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12 Questions We Must Ask About a Worship Leader

8. Are they already skilled at what they do, and do they have natural gifting to work with? Let’s be real. If there isn’t a musical gift in the person, or some strong “musicality” within them, we’re not going to get far in this particular role (the role of contemporary worship leader). I’m looking for a heart hungry for Jesus, some experience worship leading or making music, and a bent toward being a leader. A little creative juice running through their veins always helps.

9. Are they teachable and eager to learn? This is different than #3. Are they eager to learn, and are they pursuing growth when I’m not there to encourage them? Are they involved in other areas of the community’s life together, and do other leaders see them as teachable?

10. Are they willing to quietly care for the poor as much as they are willing to stand on a stage? I like to take worship leaders with me when doing work with the vulnerable in society. I especially like when our instruments aren’t involved. The poor teach us to care. A worship leader who cares becomes a good leader.

11. Are they loving, gentle and generous with all those around them? How do others respond to them? We don’t want a worship leader to be constantly seeking to please people, deferring to their demands. We also don’t want a worship leader who is rough on people. We’re looking for the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).

12. Do they have a substantial interior life with God that is reflected in their outward lifestyle? Do I see evidence of ongoing transformation in their lives? Do they have “gravitas” as a person? Gravitas speaks of a growing “weightiness” of life going on under the surface. If their vision of faith is “light” and built on buzz, they are not ready to sink into the depths where worship leadership is meant to take them.

The answers to these questions will determine our approach to mentoring any worship leader, and their potential to express greatness in the spiritual leadership of worship.

What Are We Really Looking For?

In summary, we must identify what we are looking for in a worship leader. If we have no target, we’re sure to hit it.

In a worship leader, we are looking primarily for a serious disciple of Jesus who is strong (or rapidly growing) in character, and additionally has blossoming musical skills that can adeptly create a space of worship for a specific community. We don’t need a rock star; we need an effective leader of a local, worshipping community.

What are we not looking for? We are not primarily looking for someone who is highly gifted as a musician (though some skill and gifting is necessary). If they are starting “weak” in their walk with Christ, or they are hiding ego and a hunger for platform behind the veil of worship leading, we need to think twice about investing time in them until something deeper shifts.

In other words, who a person is in the secret place of their heart must be infinitely more important to us than how they play their instrument, sing or function in front of a crowd. You can train the hands; it is much harder to train the heart.

Start With the Heart

Both character and skill matter, but if worship leadership doesn’t start in the heart, we should stay away from the “gifting” with a 10-foot pole. Or disciple it—and do it fast if they are currently playing in front of a crowd.

It is true that we should value the power of beautiful and well-played worship music—but only if it flows from the hearts of people who are content to give Jesus, and others, the place of prominence.  

This article originally appeared here.

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Dan Wilt, M.Min. is an artist, author, musician, educator, songwriter, communicator, and spiritual life writer. With 20+ years in the Vineyard family of churches, he serves in various ways to further a “New Creation” centered vision of the Christian life through media.