Every worship leader goes through a phase when they’re a time hog. It’s an inevitable part of their growth, development and maturity. It’s unavoidable and understandable. Some worship leaders go through it once and learn their lessons. Most worship leaders grow up out of it but revert back every once in a while. Occasionally, worship leaders are known to remain as perpetual time hogs, gaining a reputation among their colleagues and congregation that becomes hard to shake off.
When worship leaders first start off, they’re happy to keep it short and sweet. Doing one song, and being on stage for five minutes, is quite long enough, thank you very much. Those five minutes feel like an eternity, and you’re sure that everyone in the room is staring at you, judging you, talking to each other about you and making faces at you, thus you squeeze your eyes closed as tightly as possible.
Then they start to feel more comfortable. They start to settle into their role and begin to lead a sequence of songs. Five minutes has turned into 15 minutes, and they begin to think that the longer worship goes, the more songs in a row there are, the more people will worship God, and they can begin to ignore the clock, becoming a time hog, and still squeezing their eyes closed as tightly as possible.
I know there are some churches where worship can go as long as the worship leader wants, and the service can go as long as the preacher wants, and everyone is OK with a two-hour service being the norm.
But most churches don’t have two-hour services as the norm, and there are very real considerations (not the least of which is the Sunday school teachers and nursery workers who can start to get antsy at the 75-minute mark, if not before) that worship leaders can’t ignore when they’re on the platform.
A worship leader who isn’t sensitive to the clock, and consistently goes beyond the time allotted, will find two unfortunate results:
First, he’ll be working against himself, and he’ll find himself being allotted less and less time to lead worship as the pastor and/or service planners try to reign him in.
Second, he won’t be trusted with additional responsibilities or leadership since he can’t prove himself trustworthy in the “little” (yet major) area of time management.
A Sunday here or there when you go a little long can be excused, particularly if you’re a church that wants to be open to adjusting things as the Spirit leads. But even in the most flexible of churches, being a consistent time hog as a worship leader is not a good idea, principally because you owe it to the other members of the body of Christ to not act as if you’re more important than them.
So, don’t squeeze your eyes shut so tightly that you forgot to look at the clock. Be aware of your people, be respectful of your parameters and be sensitive the Spirit. The more balanced your leadership, the better.