By Enoch Chang, MDiv ’11
It seems everywhere you look there is a new book or blog or conference on leadership. I have read, contributed, and attended many of these. And it’s not just me; many churches I have attended or know of have incorporated a major emphasis on leadership. Leadership is not something that comes naturally to me. In fact, if you asked me 10 years ago if I saw myself being a leader in the church, I would have laughed in your face and told you with a humble smile that I make a better follower than a leader. Now if anyone responded in that way they would be considered apathetic or lazy more than humble. Leadership has become pervasive in our culture and definitely within the church culture.
I’ve had a difficult year leading my worship band this past year. It seemed no matter what leadership content I was reading or listening to, nothing was changing. Often leadership advice seems very formulaic and aspiring leaders (like me) can wonder what we are doing wrong even though we are following the “steps.”
Here’s what I wished those leadership blogs and books included:
People want to know that you are who you say you are and will do what you say you will do. If your actions are consistent with your words, it shows your team that you are trustworthy and they will want to follow you. However, not everyone catches your character. There’s a reason why character is often defined as “who you are when no one is watching” because people aren’t there to see who you are when no one is watching. It’s frustratingly noble. The challenge is to continue to maintain your character even though no one sees or recognizes.
There needs to be a constant moving forward of goals reached in order to lead a team. After all, if you aren’t reaching your goals, your team will see you are not a follow-through leader and you lack the ability to do what you say you will do. Expectations are different for different people however. Some expect results quicker, others expect bigger results, and still others expect results that aren’t a part of your stated goals. It’s best to talk these expectations over with your direct supervisor so she or he understands and expects the appropriate results.
Knowing your leader cares for you is one of the most empowering things you can feel as a member of a team. Team members need words of encouragement, acts of service, quality time, gifts, and well… maybe not physical touch. (If you aren’t familiar with Gary Chapman’s book: “The 5 Love Languages,” click here.) But if you are familiar with the concept, not everyone responds to each love language the same way. I’ve expended a lot of energy doing things for certain team members they could not have cared less about. It is up to you to find out how best your team members receive care.
Feedback is necessary for growth. For worship teams, one of the most unbiased ways to receive feedback is to record your service. What’s the saying? “The camera doesn’t lie?” But even then, there are undoubtedly certain expectations from your church or organization’s culture that you need to follow. I’ve been staffed at my current church for about a year and a half and am still learning nuances of the church culture. Feedback can be tough. Know your personality and how well (or not well) you take criticism. Be ready to receive a lot of criticism without much encouragement though. I am working on my leadership skills. I cannot change how others express their influence.
All the principles mentioned so far take time. Good things take time. It takes time to learn each personality of your team and how they function and get along together. People are naturally resistant to change. Sometimes no matter how good a change may seem, there will most likely be some pushback from how things are. It takes time to build your character, to achieve results, to find out how to best care for your team, and to be ok with criticism. Patience is a virtue for great leaders.
I designate a time in the week to pray specifically for my team. I write down their prayer requests and pray for them by name. During the week I’ll pray for them as I read back their prayer requests and I’ll send them a quick text asking them how they’re doing. They might not know that I’m praying for them, but God does. It empowers me as a leader when I pray for them.
There will be conflict and sometimes people will oppose your leadership. It happens even if you are following all the “rules.” The best thing to do is for you to make sure you’re leading with integrity. You can’t control how other people view you, and you can’t change peoples’ past experiences. Those experiences have formed that individual’s personality.
You can only work on yourself. Much like you are not responsible for the salvation of another soul, you are not responsible for others’ “followership.” You can only work on your side of your influence like you can only bring the good news of Jesus to someone. It is then up to them to respond. But you can pray for your teams. You will grow as a leader when you do.
Enoch Chang is the Worship and Creative Arts Director at NewPointe Community Church. He has been on staff at the Coshocton Campus for a year and a half and has been leading worship for 16 years.
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