If you are a worship leader and have ever been asked about what you during the week, this post is for you. Maybe you are the one asking the questions as the pastor or congregational leader. Being a worship leader or musical ministry leader is a big job. The entire church will appreciate this public ministry whether it is in all its glory or lacking something. The typical problem is that there seems to be trouble communicating as a worship leader to your leaders. And, I already know that most pastors and leaders have concerns of their own in this regard. We all know there are tasks to be completed and observe the end result. But, do we know about the hats worn behind the scenes that make what is public shine? Do we have a language actually to talk about these hats?
In my book The Six Hats of the Worship Leader, I tackle this by giving a language for the various roles required that make up being a worship leader. Whether you are recruiting a leader for your budding youth group or in a large organization duplicating church campuses, the roles are all similar. Sometimes we focus so much on the visible parts of the role that we fail to get help when the behind the scenes tasks stack up.
The six hats, in summary, are the following: Worship Leader (upfront leading of songs), Music Director (literally music leadership), Technical Director (leading sound and technology), Service Producer (running all the stuff from off-platform), Administrator (budgets, calendars, people) and Shepherd (spiritual needs of the team members addressed). I explain in my book that you can “wear a hat, share a hat or give a hat away” as a worship leader.
You should never wear all of these six hats! For one, it might be physically impossible once your second campus opens up and there needs to be two of you singing in front of your growing church. Or, your sound gear is now so complicated to set up that you need someone better than you to share that hat with you! Here is a list of 10 consequences of holding on to too many hats as a worship leader.
- Potential leaders will go unnoticed. If you hog all the hats all the time, no one will get the message that you actually desire to include them. They will stay invisible to you and your church leadership. This then backfires over time as you then shoulder work that could otherwise be shared by willing and talented volunteer leaders.
- You cannot take a vacation and enjoy it. Yes, to survive long term as a church leader—especially if this is your job—you need to learn to take breaks. If you are the only one holding things together, it is what engineers call a “single point of failure.” That is not a good thing, by the way.
- You are judged by your weaknesses. When we do most or all of the work, the stuff that we are good at becomes overshadowed by what we are smarter to delegate to others. You may be great in front of people who love to be led in singing and prayer by you, but your band is ready to quit because you are not so good at directing music.
- Burnout arrives too quickly. Burnout at a younger-than-acceptable age is possible when you try to wear all the hats! And, if you are not as young, it is even worse for you. Lightening the load is not about being less tired as much as it is about being more effective, however.
- Expansion means panic. There will be a season when you are asked to grow your team, or expand it to fill additional services. If you are the “single point of failure” then all that stress will be felt in your gut. Those around you will walk on eggshells, wondering if you are a team player or not.
- Those around you disprove your leadership. Those around you prove your worth and effectiveness as a leader. Giving them opportunity to shine is what makes you shine when you are in a leadership role. How is your team proving your leadership?
- People are not developed. Tasks take up your time and people that need your development to succeed in the roles of leading worship take second place. How are you able to build a pipeline of leaders if you are putting your finger in all the leaks?
- Spiritual temperature drops. Stroking the fire in your own heart and having the focus of doing so with your team requires leadership. Are you a professional frontman of a band or a friend, mentor, and spiritual guide as well?
- It is no longer any fun. There is nothing frivolous about feeling joy in working in your gifts. This can sour, however, when you horde it all. If you find glory in being indispensable, you lose the joy in giving away those things you love to do. You see competition rather than multiplication. Legacy is built on what we give away to others.
- Your job will end soon. There is no way to end your career in a church than to insist on wearing all the hats and being poor at helping others succeed. This does not mean you are not great at your strengths. It means that the combination of what you do and what you do through others matters greatly in ministry. Learn this, and you will last longer.
The last couple of years has shown that this model and way of explaining the role of worship leadership has helped many. Delegation, regardless of what ministry area you lead, is critical. If you want to learn more, please pick up my book or contact me! I have enjoyed talking with worship teams, worship pastors, college students and churches all over the country.