I wish I had a 7-step guide to being a great worship leader and music director. There are no keys, steps, or tricks to effectively lead a team that includes people of all walks of life.
In light of being as transparent as I can be, I've come to understand that God does things in the background where we can't see, when we don't expect, and in ways we can't understand. He puts people together who have no other similar vision in life other than to love Jesus and dive in. He gives people the desire to give their best when you think your pep talks simply don't matter. He infuses people with strength, an honor that can't exist outside of Him, and deeply empowers them to look to the future with a hope that doesn't exist on this earth, and isn't meant to stay here.
How can we lead a team to understand the vision God has given us? We can try, but we will fail. How can we lead them to give their all in music and worship while knowing they have kids to chase around the house, groceries to buy, people to help, paperwork to be done, and phone calls to answer? We can't. It's impossible for us leaders to think we have what it takes to get people to unite under a common cause, a single purpose, a unique vision for the future, a divine calling.
Only God can do that.
And He has. I've learned two prayers: "Help me" and "Thank you." These are the two most powerful prayers we can pray as leaders.
One says it all: we can do absolutely nothing without Him. We can think we've learned and mastered leadership, but at the end of the day, it isn't anything but surrender. Wholehearted surrender and a contrite Spirit. It's about letting go and allowing the Spirit to take over. We try so hard to work and inspire and change people, and after so much striving we learn only He can do that.
Within this daily cry for help are other aspects we need to understand. One passage radiates up and down my soul as I write this: “In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:20-21). This has been a tireless thought running in my mind. Our ability to ask for help is directly related to our dependence on Him. Keeping ourselves pure in heart and mind and soul is a task worthy of our attention and vigilance. It is what leads us to realize our brokenness and our need for Him to do the things only He can do.
As a leader, there is nothing God desires more than to use you as a means to inspire, empower, build up, and transform those around you. Being a servant makes you into an obedient leader, into the kind of leader who can say, "do as I do." Unless you understand that leadership is about serving those around you, you will always struggle to move forward.
The other prayer leads me to a heart exploding in gratitude. It helps me understand the dimensions of His constant action, and realize He Himself has pulled it off - for His glory. It teaches me to see the big picture, that He is allowing me to be a part of a plan that has been in motion forever, and that will carry out into forever. I start to see that He chose me to be a catalyst of His will, love, joy, and hope, to lead those around me to love Jesus profoundly and in the purest truth of His word. It also helps me to see that He also chose those people around me, and that they are worthy of being loved, respected, built up, and propelled. A grateful heart helps you see those around you and immediately be filled with a simple joy for all that God has done, and all that He will continue to do, to finish the work He faithfully started.
This was never meant to be educational. It is meant to be a reminder. The cliche we've created hides a truth we need to embrace at every minute and never forget: God is in control. As a worship leader, be led and be grateful. Be humble, transparent, without fear of being seen as weak or broken. We are all in this together, for life and eternity. Be simple, put the Kingdom first, focus on Jesus, be devoted, and work hard. Nothing you do will be in vain. It's worth it.