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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Ears to Hear- Effective Worship Leadership

Terry York, in his The Voice of the Congregation, shares a story of how he, as a new associate pastor of a large church, desired to get to know the congregation for which he would now be ministering and decided to begin by taking the oldest charter member of the 50 year-old church out to lunch. The senior adult was thrilled to share the stories of how the church began and her involvement in it. Other lunches soon followed with other members. Not only did he learn valuable history and lessons from what had occurred in the past, he soon earned the respect of the entire congregation. He began known as one who not only listens, but wanted to.

Though York was not the worship leader at the church, he exhibits the truth that wise, godly leadership listens to those for whom he serves in as a leader. The weakest model for leadership is that leader who dictates edicts without hearing and really getting to know those for whom he has been privileged to lead.  Without getting to know those with whom his decisions will affect, the worship leader will be issuing edicts, but not truly leading. Before those with whom we work can share in the vision we might have, we have a responsibility to earn their trust though listening. 

Decisions based on the relationship and knowledge developed in the process of getting to know the individuals with whom we serve will not only be more likely to be accepted, but tempered by what is known. The smaller the circle of relationships from which we gather the information to base our decisions, the greater the opportunity for alienation and mistrust. Weak leadership assumes knowledge of the individual and the situation, wise leadership takes the time to listen.

I can remember working with the young man that did the sound at a particular church. He was really good at what he did, and frankly, if he was on the board, I didn’t need to worry about anything. I literally could just give him an idea of what I wanted sound-wise, or what was going to be needed for this or that and it was always there. When he left for college, he had trained another student, who did a fine job, but not quite as expertly as the first. When this second student left, I was left to train the next person myself, and though I had taken courses in recording engineering, there was much to learn about the specifics of this system, quirks, etc. I could have learned a lot from the first young man, but was “too busy,” and since I had taken courses about these things, I really didn’t think I needed to ask him much. My own pride, really ignorance of the situation, resulted in my having to learn many things the hard way,  resulting in frustration for me and those with whom I worked.  I am convinced that I could have saved myself much grief is I had only gotten to know the situation better from the person that had been so adept. My assumptions we inadequate and woefully uninformed.

The model we have for wise leadership that knows those with whom he leads is Christ, Himself. One of the major truths in Psalm 139 is how intimately God knows us and how much He desires to know us. We do not have the divine ability to know as God knows, but we do have the ability to take time and ask. Before we hand down decisions, we need to:
     [1] Know those with whom we serve. We may be surprised to get to know all they really do as compared to what we thought they did.
    [2] Get input from those for whom the decision affects. Since these people carry out the day to day details of the work, [sound, lighting, video, music, drama, etc.] they can inform the situation in ways that we cannot.
    [3] Once we have made a decision that has been informed by those we work with, we need to follow up with these individuals to see how the decision is panning out.

I pray that as we grow in our leadership skills, we grow in the desire and knowledge of those for whom God has called us to serve. 

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