5 Leadership Lessons from 5 Worship Leading Stints

Over the last 20 years, I’ve been given the opportunity to lead worship for five different stints on three church staffs. Might sound confusing, so let me explain. For one stint I was actually hired to be the worship leader; I was there for four years. Three of the other four stints came while I was on staff serving a different role, but there was a vacancy for a period of time when I put on the worship leader hat also. That leaves one more, which I really didn’t want to do but God told me to say yes. Not the first time. News flash: He’s always right.

I recently finished stint number five. In reflective mode, I’ve taken a look at these stints to remember what I learned, how I grew, and what God showed me. To bottom line it, here are the five leadership lessons these stints taught me.

Lesson #1-Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

It’s possible you have a talent that everyone validates but God has other purposes for you outside that talent. It’s possible putting all your energy on the obvious talent stunts the hidden talent that only God can nurture when you say yes to him and no to the obvious. It’s possible that the best avenue for you to understand this is to give the obvious a shot and find that there is more.

Lesson #2-If you’re the best person for the job, step up.

It’s possible the very reason you are where you are is God put you there to fill a hole that only you can fill. It’s possible that God put you there to help you see what he’s capable of helping you achieve when you make it less about you. It’s possible that unless you step up, everyone will miss God’s best.

Lesson #3-Because you can, sometimes you should.

It’s possible the best way to healing is to do something you have no desire to do. It’s possible that following the accomplishment of a very hard thing your next thing should be an easy thing. It’s possible the only way another person can get unstuck is for you to offer your hand.

Lesson #4-Leading transition is like crossing a bridge-you’re just helping people cross from one side of the river to the other side.

It’s possible not everyone wants to cross over. It’s possible you’re the last one to cross. It’s possible that the only way to finish the job is to keep your eyes on the other side.

Lesson #5-Some leadership seasons are more for you, but you won’t know why until they’re finished.

It’s possible that the only time you can be refilled is when you are willing to be completely emptied. It’s possible that why doesn’t matter. It’s possible that at the end of the season you can walk away fuller than when you entered.

(Photo credit: Randy Tosch)

Perhaps 

“Now you, son of man, get your bags ready for exile and go into exile in their sight during the day. You will go into exile from your place to another place while they watch; perhaps they will understand, though they are a rebellious house.” Ezekiel 12:3

Perhaps is a descriptive word. It usually paints a negative picture, like there isn’t much of a chance. So when Ezekiel is given this task with this clarification, he has an interesting choice ahead of him. The choice is, what is his mindset going to be as he follows through.

From my experience, I’m not sure most, if not all, of God’s directives involving ministering to others shouldn’t be entered into with this mentality. Why? There are no guarantees. Just because you come in the name of the Lord doesn’t guarantee you or your message will be received at all, let alone as a message from the Lord. And how they respond, if your message is delivered as directed, has nothing to do with you.

Perhaps will keep you.

Perhaps will protect you.

Perhaps will direct you.

Perhaps will humble you.

Perhaps will focus you.

Perhaps leaves it all up to your director.

*Hate Alert

My friends from other countries have often talked about our American use of the word love. It confuses them. Why? They say we overuse the word. I have to say I agree. Do you really love your taco as much as your mother?

So I’m calling us out on the use of the opposite word from love. Hate. I have to say that we overuse that word. Maybe not as much. But definitely too much. There is a summer ad running for iPad Pro that illustrates this.

https://youtu.be/fKk4BUfrYp8

Let’s go on hate alert, shall we? Let’s help each other out by alerting one another when we use the word too much. And why should we do this? Because we need to stop affirming it-it being hatred.

  • We affirm hatred when we listen to it. Being on hate alert will keep us from listening to anyone spew hatred.
  • We affirm hatred when we ignore it. Being on hate alert means we will call each other out on it rather than just ignore any spewing.
  • We affirm hatred when we agree with it. Being on hate alert means we refuse to agree with the attitude of hatred. We can disagree without spewing hatred.

Be Alert!

Fruity Fridays: Don’t Give Up

(A series about the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5)

post by Eric Vorhies

After Adam and Eve ate the fruit, becoming aware of good and evil, God made a promise to bless the world through her seed. That blessing was Jesus. Now, let’s think about the events that took place between those two points in time. The newly freed Jews desired to be enslaved in Egypt rather than to depend on their miraculous God. From prophets to judges to kings, God’s chosen leader often rejected guidance and wisdom from their Creator. The world became so detestable at one point that God wiped it clean except for Noah and his family. And so on and so on.

If I was God, I would have been out by book two. So, in terms of what it means to be faithful, God is our model.

Faithfulness is an unswerving adherence to a person, thing, promise, etc. This is the characteristic that allows parents to have hope that their estranged child will come home. It gives permission to a devastated spouse to forgive the unfaithfulness (of any kind) of their partner. Faithfulness is at the heart of the story of the adult child who prays for 17 years that their mother would accept Christ as their Savior. Supernatural faithfulness isn’t a characteristic of the resilience of humanity. Rather, it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit that is imparted on us by God.

Here’s the take away — You don’t have to give up or give in. Everyone has some hope or desire that has been worn down and beat up by disappointments as time drags along. And, let’s be honest, it’s hard. It’s exhausting. It even seems pointless to continue pressing on. But the endurance that faithfulness demands of us isn’t our own. We have access to a Father that understands. And it is His strength that carries us. We don’t have to give up because God is our source.

Or maybe you are on the other side of the equation. Maybe you are the one who keeps failing. The one who keeps rejecting God when the pressure of the world seems to be upon you. You also don’t need to give up or give in. God’s faithfulness is greater than our unfaithfulness. And though we may stumble and fall, if we keep trying again and again, as many times as it takes, we will be able to tap into that power that God is offering us and become faithful.

So, don’t be like me…don’t say, ‘I’m out,’ before the end of book two…because the story that God is writing is much bigger than we can imagine…and masterpieces take time to complete.

Leaving the Circus Well

Maybe you’ve heard this saying, “Not my circus. Not my monkeys.” If not, you probably get the meaning. Basically, I know what and where my circus is, and that, right there, isn’t part of it.

The circus reference could apply to many areas of life: business, family, neighborhood, church, relationships. Some of these we choose to join, and some we don’t get that choice. But we all get the same choice about how long we stay in the circus.

What is interesting to watch is how people react after they’ve chosen to leave a certain circus of life. Some leave quite well; others seem to not really understand what they actually chose when they decided to leave the circus. Reality takes time to set in, and unfortunately, for some, it never does. These thoughts are for those who haven’t left well, who are struggling with their new circus.

When you choose to leave a circus…

  • …accept that the next circus is going to have monkeys also.
  • …you no longer get the popcorn and cotton candy from that circus.
  • …the acts of your new circus aren’t interested in how things ran in your last circus.
  • …over time, the acts of the old circus won’t call to see how you’re doing…and they don’t owe you that unless you actually mutually committed to it.
  • …you have to own your choice. Odds are, you made it, so own it.
  • …respect your old ringmaster’s commitment to the acts still with him. You’re not his monkey any more.
  • …embrace your new ringmaster and the other acts, monkeys and all.

Choose wisely. When it’s time to leave, leave. And leave well.

Fruity Fridays: External Bridge to Internal Goodness

(A series about the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5)

post by Eric Vorhies

You ever hear the phrase, “Fake it till you make it”? I became aware of the power of this in high school. Everyone in class had to do a speech of some sort multiple times throughout the year. I was a high schooler. I didn’t know what I was doing. Like most, I was nervous to talk in front of people. I was consumed with what they must be thinking while I was speaking. I was consumed with fear.

But after a couple of speeches, I realized that those people listening were probably thinking similar things as I was when they were giving speeches. For instance, “Did I finish that Spanish homework?” or “I wonder what’s for lunch today?” That’s when I decided I could just fake my confidence in public speaking until I actually figured it out.

Let’s be clear, I haven’t figured it out, but I can talk to a large group of people with way more confidence then I should. The reason why I say this is because of how I perceive Kindness and Goodness relating to each other. To me, kindness is this external interaction that bridges people together. Goodness, in my opinion, is an internal feeling that motivates kindness.

I hope you see where this is going.

I don’t always have goodness inside of me toward people or situations. I can look at a situation and think, “Well, I could have done better.” Or if i am trying to figure out what other people are thinking about me…I internalize all the excuses of why things played out the way it did or why they shouldn’t be commenting on it. It is far too easy to train ourselves to react selfishly or out of fear. That’s why we think bad things about people or assume the worst. But it’s more empowering to learn to feel goodness instead.

Let’s be honest though, feelings are complex, and we can’t just change our feelings. I mean, we don’t have total control over them…They CAN BE conditioned though. So, this is where we fake it till we make it, and we do that through acts of kindness.

  • Do you want to have goodness in your heart toward someone? Stop talking badly about them.
  • Find yourself always judging people for the way they do things? Take time to tell them something you think they are doing really well (do not follow it up with what they could do better…no compliment sandwiches)
  • Have anger toward someone for what they said? Buy them a cup of coffee and have a conversation. 

We can’t just change the way we feel about something or someone, but we can choose to lead with kindness in those instances. And it is amazing how doing so will soften our hearts. Then, over time, the external bridge of kindness will lead to internal goodness. You won’t have it all figured out, but you will be able to judge a situation more honestly and with more understanding and forgiveness than most.

We are not good, but God leads us to goodness. Share some of it today.

Whether You Want That Hat or Not

Hats. We all have them. Some of them we like and chose, and some we wish we didn’t have and didn’t choose. Of the latter, we may even go so far as to try to not let anyone know we have them or try to walk away from them.

To be clear, I’m not talking about hats you wear; I’m talking about skills and abilities you were born with or have learned; you could also look at the various positions you have in life (parent, child, worker, volunteer) in this light.

Whatever these skills or positions are, there is one truth that should keep us on the right path of what to do with them: these were directly given or allowed by God. 

  • That talent with numbers. Given by God.
  • That choice to marry. Allowed by God.
  • That ability to teach. Given by God.
  • That choice to join the military. Allowed by God.

Sometimes we get off the right path with these skills and positions. We may get off the right path because we don’t know what to do with them, decide to run from them, or choose to ignore or hide them. We may get to the place where we just wish we didn’t have them.

The reality is we should stand in them whether we want them or not. We should find God’s purpose in them, whether we want that hat or not. Over the last few decades, there’s one thing I’ve learned about hats: the best thing to do with a hat you don’t want is to share it. Let God show you the purpose of that hat. You might be surprised, maybe even decide you want it after all.

Fruity Fridays: The Only Goodness in Us

(A series about the Fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5)

post by Jeremy Nixon

Webster’s Dictionary defines goodness as the state or quality of being good; moral excellence, virtue; generosity, strength or the best part of anything. I particularly like “the best part of anything.” When talking about goodness you have to understand the opposite: evil. I think we all know what evil is, and it’s not the Descendants of Disney! However, my girls love that show, and as a “good” dad I oblige. Evil is everything derived from Satan, badness. The very thing that makes you happy (God) is good, and the thing that makes us imperfect…our flesh.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with my flesh and doing the right things at time because of my fleshly cravings. I know it’s hard to believe that I’m not a good person all the time…just ask John; he’ll tell you the truth. We all know that our struggle with sin is real (Romans 3:23). Paul writes in his letter to the Romans in 7:18-20 “for I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but the sin that dwells within me.”

Paul’s struggle with sin was real, so real that he cried out for rescue! Our lives, if we are honest, are really no different than Paul’s. I know as having been a pastor that everyone looks to leadership in the church and seems to think that they are perfect; that if we could just be like them and have it all together then we’d be happy and good. I’m here to tell you that we don’t have it all together, and we are all not GOOD on our own. We struggle with sin just like you, maybe different or maybe the same. Pastors extort goodness and we see all the good that they do and so we see them as goodness. As a member of the body of Christ, we are urged to walk by the Spirit and one of the fruits of the Spirit is goodness.

Since we belong to Christ we are to strive to be good, not for salvation but because of Christ’s love in laying down his life for us and saving us. Because of God’s great sacrifice our response is the fruits. As a Christian that doesn’t work in the church, I find it harder to display the fruits, but it’s more rewarding when we are able to. To God be the glory because we can NOT do it without him. He is the only GOOD in me. This week our fruit is goodness, and I encourage you to demonstrate goodness to others. It’s encouraging knowing that Paul and others in the Bible struggled with their sin and being good…but the Lord delivered them. Our hope is in Christ and through him goodness can be displayed through us to reach others.

I get it wrong more than I get it right…but if you love God and love others like you love Him, I can promise goodness will prevail and the Lord will be glorified.

Be You

There’s only one you. Be you.

God created one you. Be you.

God knows you because he created you. Be you.

God knows you better than you know you. Be you.

God doesn’t need you to be like someone else. Be you.

God didn’t create you to be like someone else. Be you.

God created you exactly the way you are. Be you.

God created you exactly how he wanted you. Be you.

God loves you as you are. Be you.

God knows your flaws. Be you.

God wants to share life with you. Be you.

God will never reject you. Be you.

God wants the best for you. Be you.

God wants more for you than you can comprehend. Be you.

God watches your every move. Be you.

God celebrates your wins. Be you.

God mourns your losses. Be you.

God offers you freedom. Be you.

God has mercy for your mistakes. Be you.

God has grace for your oddities. Be you.

God will take you back. Be you.

God desires to give you your heart’s desires. Be you.

God enjoys the one and only you. Be you.

Easter Preparation

Thank you for leading us in the Lord’s Supper last night. One of the most precious times I’ve ever experienced it. I think there is something wrong in our hearts if we don’t get emotional every time we take it.

This text came to me this morning from a choir member in reference to our time together before last night’s Good Friday service. 

Yesterday was a day of solitude and remembrance at my house. Mostly reading, listening to Easter songs, and resting. The day prepared me for the night.

One of the songs on my Easter playlist is “O The Blood,” by Kari Jobe. It’s what we listened to in remembrance last night. You can follow this link to remember and to prepare your heart for tomorrow. 

O The Blood [feat. Kari Jobe] by Gateway Worship on Amazon Music

https://music.amazon.com/albums/B00FB34LGU?trackAsin=B00FB34MKA&ref=dm_sh_SA94ziMGUHXXiOWqj7RbsVJrp