One of the topics of discussion I see constantly when it comes to worship leaders is their relationship with their senior pastor.
My pastor doesn’t understand me!
My pastor makes changes in his message on Saturday!
My pastor said no to my ideas!
If you’ve been a worship leader for more than two weeks, these (or similar) statements have made their way from your brain to your mouth where they may or may not have been prevented from escaping. You may not have said it but you definitely thought it.
I’m not here to defend senior pastors and whether or not they understand you or take you seriously or give you the creative freedom you want. What I am here to do is to help you get to the place where you have a trusting, biblical, mutually encouraging relationship with your pastor and I’ve got news for you.. it’s not all his fault.
Now there are certainly occasions where senior pastors and worship leaders will just plain disagree (usually around skinny jeans) and there are people on both sides of this relationship equation who can just not be helped. I’ve heard stories of rude, condescending senior pastors who seemed to enjoy making life difficult for the worship leader at their church. I’ve also heard worship leaders mocking and tearing down their senior pastors behind their back. Not an ideal scenario for anyone involved.
I can’t diagnose all of your symptoms and I can’t fix all of your issues but I will give you the one best piece of advice I can to help you improve your relationship with your senior pastor. If you do this consistently (that means every Sunday, for several months, maybe years) you will find that the trust and communication in your relationship with your senior pastor will increase.
One simple thing.
Ready for it?
Listen to the sermon.
No, really. That’s it.
Listen to the sermon.
What do I mean by that? It’s very simple. When your pastor preaches, listen. Listen to the sermon.
I’m not putting this out there as a “you must” or “you really should” or “you’re a bad worship leader if you don’t” but if you are in a role and a position where your relationship with your senior pastor is more than a little strained, this is part of the solution. Listen to the sermon.
So what does that look like? It looks like you sitting in a seat/pew in the auditorium/sanctuary while he preaches. It looks like you with your Bible open, engaged in the passage he’s preaching from. It looks like you with a notebook and a pen in your hand helping your brain to process the things that God is speaking to you.
Listen to the sermon!
I know there are qualifications and “yeah buts” and ways out of this but I’m telling you. If you want to show your pastor that you care about him, trust him, believe that God has called him to lead your church there is one very easy way to do it: listen to the sermon.
So what does this look like for me? Well thankfully I have a pretty great relationship with my pastor. I would not put it in the strained category. We’ve worked together since 2005 and we have maintained a high level of trust with one another during that time.
But I do this every week. I listen to the sermon. Every service? Well.. in my case, we do two services on Sunday morning. At our first service I sit with my wife, open my Bible, open my notebook and listen to the sermon. Second service I sit in the front row, open my Bible, open my notebook and listen to the sermon. Could I be doing other things? Sure I could. Could my time be more productive in other ways? Probably.
But let me turn the question around – Would you expect your senior pastor to be present for the music in every service? Of course you would!
Why? He’s demonstrating the purpose and power of corporate worship, he’s setting an example for the congregation, he’s showing that he values the work that you do. And not only do you want him to be present, you want him to be engaged, really present in what is happening as you’re leading your church on worship!
So why can’t you do the same? Demonstrate the purpose and power of the preaching of God’s word, set an example for your congregation that listening to God’s word preached is worship and show your pastor that you value the work that he does.
I understand that many of you have difficult relationships with your senior pastor and that you are looking for ways for those relationships to heal and flourish. Too often the push of the conversation is toward the senior pastor adjusting and massaging and consoling the worship leader when actually relationship is very much a two-way street.
We can, must and need to do whatever we can on our end to allow for trust and encouragement to exist within our relationship with our senior pastor.
Listen to the sermon.