Firmly convinced that every person is made in the image of God, we looked last time at how that should shape our creative process as well as building relationships with our congregations.
Today let’s look at how Imago Dei shapes interpersonal dynamics of a music team.
3. Fellow Servants
As a music leader in a church always remember that those serving alongside you are people – they are not interchangeable parts or commodities.
They are fellow servants with hopes, dreams, joys, griefs, stresses at work, stresses at home, brokennesses…
You have the opportunity to communicate care, dignity, love, respect and value each time you serve together.
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The music teams in churches I have served with in the States have always included a time of reconnection and prayer – typically a half hour or so – before we plugged in our instruments. We’d catch up on life and then share prayer requests and pray for one another, our church, and the upcoming service.
I once had another music leader say he saw this as a “waste of time.”
This “waste of time” has included team mates sharing about addictions they needed help breaking free from, heartache over a recent miscarriage, prayer for miraculous healing of a friend (which the Lord in His sovereignty did), sharing testimonies of coming to faith and of barely clinging on to faith, intercessory cries for children to come back to the Lord, wisdom in major life decisions, and on and on. And yes, lots of laughter and joy as well.
To call it a “waste of time” indicates that those gathered are there simply to perform a task – with musical excellence the goal, treating people as mere tools.
I once candidated at a church for a worship pastor role, and as the music team set up to rehearse I did what I considered to be normal – I asked about their families, how long they’d been attending, what brought them to this specific church…. Normal, human, fellow-servant conversation.
As the weekend ended one of the musicians approached me and said, “I really hope this works out. Do you realize you are the only one (candidate) who even bothered to ask us about our lives?”
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Leaders – with Imago Dei in mind – interact during practices with a mindset of Philippians 2:1-16.
Just as you all are there to serve the congregation – you as leader are there to serve the other musicians, not to project an air of superiority, not lording your role over them.
What does that look like?
- Err on the side of grace when someone runs late. Address lateness privately if it is persistent. Sometimes an emergency or even life-threatening scenario may have just been experienced.
- Listen to their creative ideas and implement as they fit your context – you are a team not a carriage driver and his/her horses.
- Don’t use breaks to show your flashy skills.
- Those running tech are part of the team. Period. Not plebeians to serve you.
- Don’t harshly criticize when someone doesn’t play things right. Graciously bring correction. There is time and space to correct errors, but lashing out in anger or shaming another is not Christ-like leadership.
- Encourage and celebrate others when they play something well.
- Ask for specific things you’d like in the song(s) without demanding, belittling, or expecting something beyond their abilities.*
- When someone needs to be asked to step down from the team – for personal or moral reasons – find or be help. Follow up. Continue to greet and treat them as a dearly loved one.
- Thank people for serving. Thank them sincerely. Thank them creatively as a group away from the stage. Thank them often.
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Most of the above is set right when we approach other musicians in our ministry as we ought – they are our brothers & sisters, fellow servants of Christ made in His image and redeemed by His blood. They are His Bride and we should treat them as the spouse of our King and Master.