When we first gets into ministry, everything looks awesome. There’s a feeling of “we’re going to change this world together, we’re going to make a difference, we’re going to impact people for the Lord, we’re going to use the skills and opportunities to do something that really matters.” At the beginning you’re looking at everyone as part of a team and there’s very much a sense of “we” in what you’re doing. As time goes on however, you move out of that place of being the new person who is seeing these opportunities as being amazing challenges to being just part of your job. There’s a transition that happens from “this is part of my mission and my calling,” to “this is where I’m employed.” That journey is natural and happens for everyone.
There’s a settling that occurs and the difficulty we run into as creative people and worship leaders and people who stand on a stage is not only do we settle into that role but the congregation also settles into that role that we’ve taken. When that happens, the congregation stops seeing you as that new, bright, shiny thing that’s going to make this great change and make everything better, they start to see you as the person that they can interact with and vent towards and share frustrations with, sometimes even manipulate. So in that transition, that passion and excitement we start with is exchanged for something. It’s exchanged for the monotony of getting the job done and it’s often exchanged for the obligation that is set forth in our job description. When that happens, we move into a place of disappointment or resentment, even bitterness that exists around people and the environments that we are in. This can be extremely challenging. People no longer come to you to encourage you about how well the service went, instead they come up to tell you that you did the song the wrong way. They tell you that the music was too loud or that you didn’t do the song the way that they remembered it. They tell you they are leaving the church because of the music, or because you’re not preaching the way they like to hear it, or because you’re asking for money all the time.
The honeymoon stage has been exchanged for the mundane.
As worship leaders and senior pastors, it’s important for us to remember that in our role of being visible from the stage, we wear a target and often it’s a big one. And even though we got into this because we want to serve the Lord and want to see big changes happen and see lives transformed for Him, the very people that we’re trying to help become the very people standing in the way of those goals. That can be extremely discouraging to know that we’ve poured our hearts into people and have that response be there. So the real question becomes how do we stay encouraged? How do we stay encouraged when the environment that we’re serving in has become toxic and futile in our mind.
Get right with God
Many of us have found ourselves in that situation so the first thing that has to happen is we have to make sure that we’re right with God. I know that sounds like the Sunday School thing to say but it’s true and we have to make sure that we’re in the word, in community with other church leaders that can speak into us and point out our blind spots where we need to grow. Those things are extremely important!
Get right with our team
The second thing is we have to make sure of is that we are in a right relationship with our team. As leaders, especially as creative leaders where emotion becomes part of how we do our job, our emotions have a tendency to effect the people we work with. So if we’re having a bad day, our attitude might rub off on them, and when we’re having a great day, our positive attitude will likely impact them as well. So it’s important to keep in mind that being in a good healthy community with our own team and being positive and keeping a vision in front of us as well as the people around us for something great is really important.
Build a team of advocates
The third thing is to build a team of advocates. Anything that happens on the stage is open to interpretation and offers ourselves as a target because it’s all personal opinions. Not only can they voice opinions to you, they can voice them to the person sitting next to them in the service and the people in their small group and to other people on staff and on the team. It’s important that we as leaders have the right relationships with the people in our church because this is not an us versus them relationship, it’s a we relationship.
This is our opportunity to be together within God’s church. So when a worship leader or pastor is positioned in a way that they are in conflict with people in the church instead of in community with them, the conflict will almost always win. The people in the congregation will not take into account your feelings or hard work. When things aren’t happening the way they want, they will let people know that.
The more people understand you and your heart and the process and what happens behind the scenes, the more people that help with set-up and tear down, the more people that see the ups and downs of your ministry process and will jump onto your side to protect what God is doing in your ministry, that will be your key. This is not a way to get people to take sides with you or with others, rather it’s a way to bridge the chasm that exists between the church body and the stage.