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6 Leadership Lessons Learned From Live Recording

I recently had a very special week. It was the week of the recording of Allison Park Worship’s second full-length worship album, All for Jesus, releasing this December.

Now that I’m on the other side of the live recording, I wanted to share some reflections. This isn’t to brag about what we accomplished. I simply want to share some leadership thoughts that will challenge and encourage you in your big projects.

Here we go …

Six Leadership Lessons for Those Leading Big Projects

If you’re leading a big project, here are some tips you can apply to your creative process:

Lesson #1: Big Visions Can Be Messy

You know, there are a lot of things we improved upon from our last record to this one. But we also are trying to do a lot more, which creates new challenges. And here’s the leadership lesson: Huge projects and big vision can be messy.

No matter how solid your plan is, no matter how advanced and clear your communication, things will go wrong. Attitudes will flair. Expectations won’t be met. This is the landscape of attempting anything big. The end result is awesome, but the process for getting there is paved with struggle.

Everything went super smoothly on the live night—songs were tight, the lights worked, the videos were cued on time and, most importantly, the people of God were encouraged in the presence of God. But those who saw the end product didn’t see the hours of agonizing rehearsal, the difficult conversations, the wrestling match of songwriting.

Herein lies the power of leadership and having a great team—you see projects to completion no matter what the obstacle. You pray and cast vision and speak life and breathe encouragement.

Lesson #2: It’s Easier to Do Nothing

Another lesson I’m learning is that it’s always easier to do nothing. When you don’t launch projects and create art that is risky (meaning it might fail and people might not accept it), it’s a bit easier. But you also don’t reach your potential.

Brilliance favors the one who creates often. I’d rather release big projects and lead big teams than sit back and play it safe. Playing it safe is cowardly and is overlooking opportunities to make disciples.

Leaders, we are the ones to absorb responsibility, make change, call people higher, do hard things that make the world (and the one to come) a better place.

Lesson #3: The Strength of Your Leadership Is Your Energy

You know the greatest strength you bring to your team? It’s your energy, your outlook, your inner health. You don’t have to have all the answers, know what to do next or be the best at everything.

That’s why you have a team. But you need to be able to inspire people. You need to make people feel safe. You need to create an atmosphere for your people to soar in their strengths. Nobody likes a micromanaging, small-minded, cranky, do-it-themselves leader.

Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz in their book The Power of Full Engagement make this claim:

“Leaders are the stewards of organizational energy—in companies, organizations and even families. They inspire or demoralize others first by how effectively they manage their own energy and next by how well they mobilize, focus, invest and renew the collective energy of those they lead.”

How true is this? Leadership is about keeping your team focused, inspired and engaged no matter how difficult the task.

Lesson #4: You and Your Team Are Not the Hero

I first heard this concept from Donald Miller in talking about companies. He says that in order to have a great business, you have to realize who is the hero in your story. It’s not your brand. It’s not your company. It’s your customers.

Worship team—the same applies to you. You are not the hero in the story. It’s not your songs, your sound, your production, your reputation.

It’s the church. It’s how well you write what God’s people need and want to sing. It’s how inviting you are to the worshiping church. It’s how well you engage the room in connecting with Jesus. Period.

Stop being the rockstar in your local church and labor to make everyone else the hero.

Lesson #5: Melody & Production Isn’t Enough

We’ve all heard this. Great production doesn’t make a great song. Matter of fact, great production can take a bad song and confuse people. It’s not helpful. I implore you, songwriters for the church, wrestle with your lyrics. Capture the essence of what the Bible says. Don’t try to be clever or cool. Be true. Be gutsy. Be bold.

Fall in love with Jesus by falling in love with what the Bible says, not just what you feel about Him.

Lesson #6: Don’t Make It About Yourself

If your vision is something that you can accomplish on your own, it’s not big enough. You need a team. But you don’t just need others to accomplish goals—you need to release others into their calling.

Recruit people where you are weak. Our executive producer is a beast when it comes to managing details and getting things done. Without him, this project wouldn’t have happened. Our big events coordinator organized a massive free meal for everyone in the concourse. Everyone on our staff pitched in to make this event a WOW experience.

If it’s all on you, you’ll crumble and it won’t be as good as if everyone is contributing (I know from experience).

If people aren’t coming up higher, rising to the occasion, then your vision is too small. A great leader’s work isn’t always obvious because that leader is busy pushing others to the forefront.

I must say, I’m excited for you to hear these new songs, coming this December. Stay tuned.