As a worship leader, I am learning to constantly assume a position of leaning in and observing, in order to grow. Learning situations are presented in many shapes and forms and it is important to be perceptive when the Lord is teaching you something new. This past weekend, I had the pleasure of leading a group of believers in song during their worship service. In my opinion, it was challenging. Though the band was gifted, we had never worked together prior to that service. Secondly, we had minimal time for practice due to a power outage and thirdly, we were ministering in a new church. While the bible encourages us to be prepared to minister in and out of season (2nd Timothy 4:2), I felt like the odds were against us. Nevertheless, we soldiered on and did what could possibly be done with the available resources. Here are a few lessons I learned from this experience.
1. Connect- When leading praise and worship at a new church, it is critical to understand that the congregation is used to a certain style of music and band/worship leader. This means that the change of having someone new lead them in song may not be received enthusiastically- and it’s ok, because worship is very relational. It may help to have the visiting worship team attend a church service a few Sundays before the scheduled leading so as to assess the style, preference and overall liturgy (flow of the service). Secondly, request the worship pastor of the church you will be ministering at, to introduce the visiting worship team to the congregation at the start of the service. This simple act increases the congregation’s trust towards the team, in addition to raising credibility.
2. Lead your emotions – While leading in teams, I have found that maintaining a sense of calm in moments of anxiety goes a long way in setting the overall mood of the team. Whether we know it or not, our followers feed off of our emotions. This means that if we appear stressed, the band will pick up on this emotion and the resulting mood of the whole group will be anxiety. Therefore, emotional intelligence- being aware of your own emotions and those of your followers, knowing how your emotions affect your group and being able to manage them in order to achieve certain goals, is key. In stress filled situations, we can intentionally choose to lead from an overflow of faith as opposed to fear (1st Peter 5:7). Some situations may call for you as a leader to communicate your concerns to your team members. In these situations, allow your team to give you meaningful solutions to the presented problem. Learning to lead your emotions as opposed to your emotions leading you, ultimately results in an emotionally healthy worship team.
3. Improvise- As a musician, one is expected to improvise on their instrument. The creation of something new without the use of a script is not only the preserve of the arts. Improvisation is also key while leading a team. Being able to think on your feet is vital in times of ambiguity. Despite great preparation, we may be blind to situations that may throw us off. Learning how to go with the flow and being able to change a set course enables you to grow in creativity and problem solving. Nevertheless, an effective leader is one who communicates the needed changes to his/her team so as to remain in sync. Once in a service, a friend of mine was leading a new song whose lyrics he had not mastered well. In this church, the songs are projected on the monitor screens so as to enable the congregation to sing along. While my friend was singing, the screens went blank and as such he was not able to read the lyrics. This friend improvised by asking the congregation to ponder and pray over the words of the previous verse. While the church continued to sing and pray, the screens came back on and they were able to move on to the next verses. Learning to improvise therefore enables a leader to lead in all kinds of situations, allowing the leader to remain relevant in highly ambiguous contexts.
How about you. How do you connect, improvise and lead your team in new situations?