Who can fathom the mind of a Pastor? Why, other pastors, of course! So in preparation for this blog post I polled several long-tenured pastors who now work in our South Carolina Baptist Convention offices where they resource other pastors. I have combined their input with my own insights from 27 years as a worship pastor in four churches. And “voila”, here – in no particular order – are 10 things our Pastors want to say to us as worship leaders, but probably won’t.
1. You are “called by God”. Act accordingly.
Our church doesn’t just need a good music director. We need someone who is called by God to the gospel ministry, whether in a part time or full time capacity. Be a minister. Pray and read scripture daily like a minister. Prepare and plan like a minister. Relate to others as a minister. Be an active, giving part of the ministry team. Live a life of holiness, integrity, and obedience to God’s Word reflecting your calling to Gospel ministry.
2. There is no “I” in T-E-A-M.
We’ve got to work together to bring honor and glory to the Lord. We do have distinct areas of responsibility, but ultimately we are a team. All our personal and team goals must support Jesus’ commission to make disciples for Him. Let’s affirm our strengths and work on our weaknesses together in openness and honesty. Mutual respect is crucial.
3. No surprises, please.
Please make every attempt to keep me informed by copying me on important documents and correspondence. Share quick updates in person as needed. Yes, we need to celebrate victories but we must also communicate immediately when problems and conflicts arise. No matter how much I like you, we will still have to earn each other’s trust.
4. Clean up after yourself.
Please don’t leave messes for me to clean up. We all know that people are messy – they will get angry and hurt and will probably not handle their feelings Biblically. I need to depend on you to handle conflict according to Matthew 18:15-17. Talk personally with anyone who is offended, but be sure to approach them in God’s timing and with God’s words and work toward a Biblical solution.
5. Give me the bottom line.
I’m overwhelmed by details in my life. So, when you tell me about a situation, if you can give me the five minute version rather than the twenty minute version (or even better, the two minute version), I would be very appreciative. If you continually give me the long version of every story, I may begin to avoid you when I feel pushed.
6. Don’t create “win-lose” situations.
Any staff member is wrong to ever think he or she will win by making the pastor lose. If your pastor loses, you will lose. If you make sure your pastor wins, you will win, too. So if you feel angry at me or hurt by me, let’s follow Matthew 18 ourselves by talking it over face to face. Remember, every relationship that you have – good or bad – has ripple effects and will put me in helpful or unhelpful situations, too.
7. Instead of magnifying yourself, multiply others.
Don’t settle for being the center of attention for an hour or two. Make it your purpose to raise up many leaders of worship. Bringing in sinners, raising up saints, sending out servants… that’s your job, too, not just mine. First, help our church members understand worship, not as an end in itself or an isolated event, but as a means to grow disciples. Then, start relational discipleship groups and grow disciples of your worship team.
8. No new music every week, puh-leeze.
To me, music is an artistic language of emotion and heart. Our people do like some new music but we can’t connect our hearts with God if we don’t know most of the songs. Introduce a chorus or hymn of the month and give us time to learn it, but please don’t continually introduce new songs and leave us guessing.
9. He who is flexible will not get bent out of shape.
There will be times when things interrupt your plans for worship or your event calendar. It’s not an authority issue and doesn’t reflect on the respect I have for you. It’s just that things come up and necessitate change sometimes. Don’t overreact… go with the flow. If your feelings get hurt, see #6 above.
10. Help me maintain unity.
I greatly value unity. Your ability to keep people unified while successfully fulfilling our mission and goals is a valuable trait. If we don’t have unity of purpose as a staff and as a church, everything else is off-center. Please don’t be divisive in order to shore up your own position of influence.
11. Be a friend and let me be a normal person.
(Yes, I know this is #11, and I said I would give you 10 things… but hey, I’m the Pastor, and I run long sometimes ;). As your supervisor, I’m hesitant to allow us to get too close as friends. And yet, I really need friends who will let me be normal. So whenever possible, let down your guard with me and I’ll try to do the same. Maybe our families can even get together sometimes because we both need it. And make sure that we find the time at least once a week to pray together for each other and our church.
I pray that these insights will help you make some New Year Resolutions about how to relate better to your Pastor!
Mark C. Powers
Mark C. Powers is the author of “Going Full Circle: Worship That Moves Us to Discipleship and Missions”, Resource Publications, Wipf & Stock, Eugene Oregon, 2013. Join his blog at www.GoingFullCircleBlog.wordpress.com. After 27 years as a worship pastor in four churches, Mark became the Worship & Music Director for the South Carolina Baptist Convention in 2008. He and his wife, Kay, live in Columbia SC. You can also follow Mark on Twitter: @SCBCMark