Worship leaders have many relationships that they need to balance and manage, with volunteers, staff members, and even your church family. However, there is one relationship that can effect the quality of all those previously mentioned: your relationship with your Pastor or boss.
Everyone’s situation is different, but I’d be willing to bet that everyone has someone they report to. Maybe you’re a Worship Pastor that reports to a Lead Pastor, or a Music Director that reports to a Creative Arts Pastor, but regardless of your staff org chart, you need to have a great relationship with your leader.
And guess what: the quality of this relationship is directly linked to your willingness and ability to build it. It’s on you, and you should feel the need to put the time and effort in to making and keeping it healthy.
Essentially, there are three things you need to cultivate in your relationship with your leader: Trust. Respect. Reliability.
There is nothing more important in any relationship, let alone your relationship with your pastor, than trust. Trust is the foundation on which everything else sits. If the foundation of your relationship with your pastor isn’t built on trust, then you will ALWAYS been on shaky ground.
Trust is built over time, little by little, as you show that you’re someone who can be trusted. To gain trust, you often need to first be willing to give it. Therefore, you need to be willing to trust your leader as well.
This may mean you do a song you don’t want to do, or that you’re not able to do that cool thing you want to try. Word of advice from a guy who’s been there: that’s ok.
The more your pastor trusts you, the more freedom you’ll be given in planning, song selection, leading from stage, you name it!
I guarantee that your pastor WANTS to trust you, that they DESIRE someone they can put their whole trust in. But, I can also guarantee you that they’ve been burned in the past, and it was probably by a worship leader. Do your best to earn their trust and to steward it well.
Respect doesn’t just mean you think they are a good person or a quality leader; Respect is also about how you speak about them to others, how you treat them with your own words, and how you receive their words.
Even if you’re having a hard time with your pastor right now, commit to ALWAYS speaking well of them with others. I’m not talking about lying and never confiding in someone you trust. I’m encouraging you to always speak well of your pastor to other staff members, church family, and ESPECIALLY to volunteers. Your words ALWAYS carry weight, so be wise with them.
When you’re in a meeting with your pastor, how do you speak to them? What kind of tone do you use with you speak to them? How you choose to speak to your pastor almost just as important as what you choose to say. Choose to speak respectfully, even if you’re pissed. (I didn’t say it would be easy.)
Think about the last time your pastor gave you some feedback, advice, or input. Did your stomach clench up and you bite your tongue? This might mean you’re not really open to receiving your pastor’s feedback.
I was HORRIBLE at this in my early ministry, but I’m grateful that I had a pastor who was patient and willing to be consistent with his feedback. Even if you don’t like what they’re saying, be open to giving them respect, and hearing them out.
I bet if you surveyed pastors about what they need most practically in a worship leader from a service programming stand point, we would find that pastors NEED someone reliable. Someone who keeps their word, delivers consistently, and is someone they can count on to get things done.
Reliability is more than simply doing your job. Reliability includes having great integrity and consistency in your character, talent, & leadership.
Your pastor needs someone who has character he can rely on. They need to be confident in the fact that you are the same person with him as well as anyone else. Being men and women of character is one of the BEST things we can do be reliable for our pastors.
Being reliable with your talent means that you’re consistently preparing in order to lead worship excellently. We’re probably talented enough to get by on listening to the songs on Saturday night and doing it on Sunday morning, but does that sound like someone you want to rely on? Me neither.
As your relationship grows, so will your responsibilities as a leader. Your pastor needs someone who he can rely on to lead in such a way that reflects Jesus and your church. While this is true on stage, this is even more important off stage. Your pastor needs you to be a reliable leader for your church, knowing that you support the mission and vision of the church and that you’re committed to help others follow Jesus, even off stage.
Trust. Respect. Reliability.
You need all 3 to build a healthy relationship with your pastor. The good news is that no matter the quality of your relationship today, you can do things to build up these things in your relationship RIGHT NOW!
Jesus desires unity and cohesion among those who carry the Gospel in his name. Take the time to do the hard work, so that you and your pastor will have the relationship later to enable you to do the GREAT work.