I’ve been blessed with many great worship leaders and pastors with whom to work.
I’ve worked with enough now to form some opinions of what makes a great one.
Here are seven attributes of a great worship leader:
- Humble—They love Jesus and attempt to walk with Him daily. They are willing to let others help lead, because it’s not about them—it’s about Jesus. And, they don’t have to always be center stage.
- Strategic—They think through the planning of a service from start to finish. They are conscious of the need to remove distractions and give people the best opportunity to potentially engage in worship.
- Cooperative—I once worked with a worship leader who could not handle a change. I believe in planning. I also believe the Spirit of God can work in our planning process. But it’s very difficult to allow God’s Spirit to reign when we are the ones in control of the service. The bond between the teaching pastor and the worship pastor is so important. In fact, the ability to form chemistry with them may be my most important quality when seeking a worship leader.
- Faithful—In this one, I really mean a willingness to walk by faith—even when it’s uncomfortable. A good worship pastor can lead people to respond, but it is one position in the church where there are multiple opinions of their “performance. ” The worship pastor is subject to receiving criticism as much or more than the pastor. It can be a challenging position for anyone who thrives on popularity. A great worship leader focuses more on the call of God in their work than in the comfort of the position or the response of the people.
- Servant—They are here to serve the church, its volunteers and ultimately Christ. There’s no “Green Room” mentality. I love, for example, to see a worship leader who engages with people after the service. They realize people see them “on stage,” but they want people to simply remember them for being a regular person—humbly striving to be like Jesus.
- Encouraging—They invest in volunteers, making them feel valued. People are drawn to them because they know they are loved and appreciated.
- Innovative—The best worship leaders I know don’t get caught in a rut. They are not afraid to try new songs or new orders of service. Every week is not the same. They are consistently raising their own bar, challenging others, changing things and seeking to improve.
Notice I never mentioned talent.
And, granted, they should have the talent to fit the job requirements, but just as a pastor doesn’t have to be the next Andy Stanley to be successful, neither does the worship pastor have to be the next Chris Tomlin. (Or choose the names that work best for you in my analogy.) Talent matters, but that goes without saying, and—if I had to choose—I’d rather have slightly less talent to get slightly better character.
What are attributes you believe make a great worship leader?
Ron Edmondson is a pastor and church leader passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. Ron has over 20 years business experience, mostly as a self-employed business owner, and he’s been helping churches grow vocationally for over 10 years.