the baby and the bathwater


input – leadership
February 9, 2008, 3:46 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

We are all on a journey. And the most important thing for all of us is that journey is headed towards God and the things of God.

Having been leading worship for 25 years or so, and see many others give up on, or fall away from ministry, I truly know that it is by the grace of God that I am still standing. And also I know that in many ways, my own personal journey towards God and the things of His heart will never end: I have so far yet to go.

When I started out, though, I don’t think I ever really appreciated how much of my ministry would be about leadership. I sort of assumed that I could stroll up Sunday by Sunday, plug my guitar in, and head off in worship. As long as I continued to play well, write good songs, sing sort of in tune, and roughly hold a band together musically, then all would be well! But it seems that over time, I am having to make bigger and bigger decisions, bring together and envision more and more people, manage large and larger budgets, communicate with a wider and more diverse bunch of leaders, and maintain focus amidst an ever increasing spectrum of views and opinions.

So much for just playing a few chords then.

And as anyone knows, leadership involves making hard decisions, and from time to time, upsetting people. And this brings about a huge dilemma. Because as a worship leader I naturally want to be everyone’s friend. I want to try and make sure that I don’t do anything that would make one of my congregation think ‘this guy really hacked me off so there’s no way he’s gonna lead me in worship today!’ It’s sort of expected that a pastor will upset people some of the time through the decision they make. But not a worship leader. That just isn’t done!

To me, it feels like I have to tread a very fine line. It can be totally challenging. And as I bumble on from mistake to mistake, I do sometimes wonder that, if someone had told me all of this earlier I may have had a smoother ride.

And then of course, once you recognise that you are a leader, you also then realise that God sets the bar very high in terms of acceptable lifestyle and acceptable behaviour. (1 Tim 3). In one sense the bar is high for anyone. But for the leader, who is very visible and subject to ever increasing scrutiny, failure to meet such standards have greater implications and consequences. Mistakes are amplified. Unfortunately you can’t avoid that. So the bar is high for good reason: God want to protect the honour of His name and the integrity of His church. Leaders need to be well thought of, not pushy, not money hungry, not conceited, not in it for what they can get out of it. Oh how important for worship leaders!

In these 25 years of leading worship, I have seen many worship leaders, some of them friends, fall away from ministry. It is tragic. In one sense, their stories are repeated day by day in the lives of many many people who love and serve God but which go virtually unnoticed beyond their own circles. Yet for the leader, their position and profile unfortunately means that the impact of their failure is often far far greater reaching than the failure itself would seem to merit. Mistakes are amplified.

But these instructions in 1 Timothy are more than instructions to protect us from downfall, they are exhortation to inspire us to do greater things for the kingdom. If we are well thought of, we will hopefully not only have measures in place that protects our integrity, we will also hopefully have equity with people that increases our capacity to take risks. If we are not pushy, we will hopefully not only have a gentle character that will uphold the dignity of others, but also hopefully increase our ability to make wise decisions. If we are not money hungry, we will hopefully not only lessen our tendency to use finances inappropriately, but also increase our sense of kingdom values. If we are not conceited then not only do we hopefully reduce the chance that we will pursue our own status, but that we will be able to rejoice more in the success of others under our leadership. And if we are not in things for what we can get out of it, then hopefully we will not only reduce the chance that we will give up when that recognition doesn’t come, but also hopefully be fired up to run the race with conviction and finish well.

So my second influence is this: understanding more what it means to be in leadership

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