Worship Matters: Faithful Encouragement Opens Doors
- Wednesday, March 05, 2003
Part 5 in the "Pastors and Worship Leaders" Series
Last time we saw that a pastor must be the lead worshiper for his church, choose his worship leader carefully, and take responsibility to train him. This time we'll look at the complementary areas of encouragement and evaluation.
If you're a pastor, your worship leader is God's gift to you. Encouragement will enable him to function at his best. Hebrews 3:13 tells us that exhorting or encouraging others will keep them from being "hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." If you don't want a worship leader struggling with comparison, bitterness, discouragement, or envy, try encouraging him. You'll be amazed at the results.
You might be saying, "You don't know my worship leader." That's true. But I do know that the Apostle Paul, when writing to the Corinthian church a primarily corrective letter (since the church was deeply mired in some very serious sins), nevertheless started out by telling them, "I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus" (1Co 1:4). If Paul could encourage the Corinthians, you can encourage your worship leader.
Look for areas where you see God at work. Maybe it's in your worship leader's growing understanding and application of God's Word. Perhaps you noticed a creative musical idea. Every time my senior pastor, C.J. Mahaney, encourages me for stretching out musically, it increases my desire to find new ways to express God's glory. If your worship leader tends to be tied to his plan every week, pour on the accolades when he does something spontaneous. On the other hand, if he unexpectedly stays within the allotted time one Sunday, let him know how appreciative you are. By the way, a generous budget for CDs, tapes, and equipment is a great encouragement to a worship leader!
Encouragement has the greatest impact when it's a way of life. Look for every opportunity to point out what your worship leader is doing right. This isn't pragmatism; this is the way God has treated us (Rom 15:7; Eph 5:1-2). Express your encouragement privately as well as publicly. Tell the church how grateful you are for your worship leader's preparation, diligence, and example. Mention gifting, but don't major on it. You want people to respect your worship leader because of his godly character, not simply because he has musical ability or can sing well.
Faithful encouragement will open the door for constructive evaluation. To serve a worship leader effectively, a pastor MUST be able to give him observations and input. This begins in the planning of the songs. The senior pastor should take responsibility for helping the worship leader choose songs that will most benefit the congregation. Whether a pastor simply comes up with a list of songs, or reviews one put together by his worship leader, depends on the maturity and trust of the relationship.
After a meeting, it's wisdom to talk as soon as possible about the things that could have gone better. Even if a certain situation might never arise again, communication about what went wrong can help establish trust and teach discernment.
Specific observations are the most helpful. Simply telling your worship leader, "It didn't feel like the Holy Spirit," is vague enough to be completely useless. Also, pointing out patterns will serve a worship leader far better than criticizing every single mistake you noticed. Remember how you'd want others to treat you. That thought alone should help a pastor balance his evaluation with large doses of encouragement.
Do you want to cultivate a greater regard for local pastors? Visit the Sovereign Grace website to see a short video of Bob's pastor, C.J. Mahaney, speak on the value of local pastors. Click here to view it.
An outstanding book on the art of "speaking redemptively" is Paul David Tripp's War of Words. You can order it from the Sovereign Grace Store at www.sovereigngracestore.com
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