Being a Worship Leader - 3

By John A. White
Contributing Writer
April 17, 2024

Read more from John A. White
Part 3 - The Maturing Chirstian Leader

Introduction to Part 3

In the last sections, we discussed how leadership is confirmed and emerges in various character traits. We emphasized the giftedness of the leader will often reflect more than one gift which we called a gift cluster. And finally, we used an instrument designed to highlight those gifts we currently use (This was the Excel Gift Assessment Survey file). In this section, we will discuss the high personal, family and social expectations for leaders. But first let’s make a couple of observations regarding worship and the worship leaders influence over the congregation.

The Maturing Christian Leader

On the one hand, as we discussed, God’s call is sovereign. But on the other hand, the one who is called needs to be spiritually mature and discerning to fulfill God’s call and to keep from disqualifying themselves. 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1 discuss the characteristics (or the signs of spiritual maturity and grace) for church leadership. Although these passages speak specifically about overseers and deacons, we can apply the same requirements to those who lead God’s people into His very presence through worship. When you consider the fact that preachers and teachers teach Christians how to live on earth and worship leaders teach Christians how to live in eternity, you begin to understand the importance of spiritual integrity of worship leaders.

Because of their influential roles, worship leaders must maintain excellent lives, which is integral to their personal worship expression. Many people underestimate the influence worship leaders have on the spiritually of the congregation. Consider the following influences the worship leader has on their church:

1. The songs and style that a worship leader chooses significantly guides and forms the congregation's expression of worship.

2. The freedom that worship leader allows will likely dictate the free expression of worship and ministry of the community

3. The extent to which the worship leader calls on the power of God will be the extent that the congregation avails itself, or commits to, God’s power opportunities for the Body to minister to itself arise.

4. The intimacy of the worship will likely stimulate the intimacy of the congregation’s relationship with God and each other.

In other words, the congregation's worship, including the worship of the individuals within the congregation, will take on the personality and spirituality of the worship leader and their style. Therefore, it is paramount that worship leaders carefully maintain their moral and ethical responsibilities within their position in the church, community, and to God. Similarly, worship team members should exemplify these same standards.

For reasons I cannot explain, it seems a common practice to ignore these basic leadership requirements on worship leaders and their teams. For some reason, struggling people and those weak in the faith and some who are failing in righteous living are encouraged to “join the choir” or get involve in the sound or multimedia presentation ministries. Why do we do this? This only adds to their problems because Satan always attacks those that visibly serve the Lord the hardest. In doing this we become like the Pharisees condemned in Mat. 23:4 who placed heavy burdens on people shoulders. Why should we add the burden of ministry to a struggling brother or sister? As people responsible for building up the Body of Christ, we should encourage the struggling saint to get the help they need so they can become strong and spiritually mature enough to faithfully serve. So then, as team leaders, we must always be sensitive to the spiritual health of ourselves and our team members.

Another issue should be considered. When we usurp God’s word we open ourselves to His judgment; judgment for disobeying God as well as other consequential actions that are not aligned with God’s will or plan. Disobedience always reduces our ministry’s effectiveness and can disqualify us. Therefore, we must pick team members that are developing a Christian maturity that is honorable in the sight of God and their family and community. Likewise, as team leaders, we must remain aware of and take opportunities to mature our team’s spirituality.

Biblical Requirements for Leaders

In this section we will discuss a leader’s biblical qualifications based primarily from 1st Timothy and Titus. Specifically we will be investigating the personal, family and church qualification and obligations for the spiritual leader.

Personal Qualifications

Effective spiritual leadership is byproduct of the essential spiritual maturity of the leader. Leadership is not doing more, doing things better, being busy or getting results. These were the common thrusts of many older leadership theories. As seen in the examples of Gary and Zach, leadership is a manifestation of personal quality of the leader and in particular, spiritual leadership is a manifestation of a leader’s deepest spirituality. Effective spiritual leadership stems from a vital and vibrant relationship with the living God and a deep understanding of self.

In the fundamental process of spiritual and personal maturity, the leader develops a sense of their purpose. This unique purpose separates the leader from his or her peers in what Edwin Friedman would calls “self differentiation.” According to Friedman “Differentiation means the capacity [of a leader] to define his or her own life’s goals and values apart from the surrounding pressure toward togetherness; to say ‘I’ when others are demanding ‘we’” . Friedman asserts, “...they [the leaders], when they do so, become the owner of their destinies”. Leaders frequently experience a feeling of personal distance and isolation from the group they lead. Therefore, it is also critically important that leaders maintain friendships where God can recreate, refresh and possibility redirect and reprove them. These friendships are usually found outside their sphere of influence, which in some case can cause turmoil within the group they lead.

The biblical and spiritual requirements for a leader’s character, their relationship with his or her family and their relationship with his or her community are seen in Tables 2 through 4 respectively and are taken primarily from 1st Timothy and Titus. 1 Tim 3: 2-12 says:

“Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap. Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons. In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything. A deacon must be the husband of but one wife and must manage his children and his household well.” (NIV, 1 Tim 3:1-10)”

and in Titus we find:

“An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless--not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.” (NIV, Tit 1:6-9).

Table 3, below, shows how these passages form a basis for the personal qualifications of a leader.

Table 3 – Scriptural Personal Qualifications

Family Qualifications

Paul wisely adds that leaders should be also evaluated on the basis of their relationships with their families. Specifically, Paul asks, “how can someone lead a church if they can’t lead their own families (1 Tim 3:5)?” Our families are in the best position to discern our character because we are with them day in and day out; they see us at our best and our worst. Table 4 below shows the qualities of a good leader’s family and home.

Table 4 – The Scripture Family Qualifications

Church and Social Qualifications

Finally, Paul includes social requirements. Again this seems purely pragmatic. A leader’s good reputation will reflect positively on the church he or she attends and will also give them and the church ministry access to the community. Paul’s social concern is the image of the church to the world. Table 5 shows the social qualifications of a leader.
Table 5 – Social and Church Qualifications

The problem is that wholly qualified leadership is difficult to come by yet the church continues to grow in need of leaders from nursery workers to church boards members to pastors. Therefore, no individual or team will be perfect and the leader must employ several techniques that allow growth past the leader’s immaturities. This punctuates the importance of the emerging leader to be a person having deep spiritual faith which continues to lead and guide them into all truth and love and the need for spiritual and ministry accountability.

Think About It

Allow me to make a comment before you consider the following two questions. There is a very great tendency to be overly critical of yourself and to simply give up because there seems to be too much to get straightened out. Many have told me at this point that they think that leadership was a mistake for them. Mostly I disagree. We are not perfect and not one of us can meet all the requirements. Remember God qualifies the called. God is interested in our obedience and not our perfection. It is our own struggle to conform our lives to God’s word and plans that reveals His power to make us overwhelming conquerors of our own shortcomings. It encourages others to see a leader that views Godliness as a goal to strive for rather than one which is already attained (Phil 3:1-16). These questions below, therefore, are to simulate progress toward Godliness.

1) Spend some time in prayer and meditation using Ps 139 as the seed for inspiration. Allow God to search you through and through and reveal anything that would disqualify you for the ministry. Write any issues down and start in the repentance process including becoming accountable to someone. Limit your accountability discussions to two or three issues that are most scandalous to your leadership authority.

2) After reviewing Tables 3 through 5, have you learned anyway that you might be short-circuiting your own leadership? If so, what do you need to do, to change your life to conform to a leader’s Godly life patterns.

3) How is God leading you within your ministry context in a way that separates you from the rest of the group? In other words, how are you being “differentiated” from your group in a way that allows you to lead your group?

Being a Worship Leader - Part 1

Being a Worship Leader - Part 2

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