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The Servant Worship Leader

The Servant Worship Leader

By Barry Westman on May 21, 2012

At a recent conference I attended, one of the artists compared the worship leader to a waitress or waiter; another artist said in a royal court, the worship leader would be the court jester, there to entertain the King; I’ve also heard the role of worship leader compared to an usher or a tour guide. While each of these comparisons needs a bit of explaining to comprehend the full meaning, the intent is clear – the worship leader is a servant - there not to fulfill his own personal needs, but to help others behold and lift their praises to the King.

At first, this role of a servant worship leader may seem a bit counter-intuitive. Isn’t the worship leader there to lead, not to serve? Did God really call us into this position just to be a servant to others? What about getting to be up in front of the congregation to lead my songs? But, as you study Scripture, you realize that Jesus puts a high value on being a servant, especially for those in leadership.

Matthew 20:26 says “But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant,” and again in Matthew 23:11 He says “But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.” What does it look like to a worship leader who is a servant? It needs to be lived out in all areas of your ministry, but let’s take a look at just a few – being a servant to your pastor, the team you lead and to your congregation.

Having a servant’s heart and attitude is perhaps nowhere more important than in the relationship between the worship leader and the senior pastor. The worship leader should constantly be thinking, “What can I do in this situation to help put the senior pastor in the best light possible?” Pointing out his flaws or idiosyncrasies to others will not only make him look bad, but it will tarnish your role as a servant leader. One of the best ways to be a servant to your pastor is to know and implement the vision of worship established by the leadership in your church, being flexible to those last minute requests, and making it your goal to go above and beyond what he expects from you.

How can you be a servant to those who serve alongside you in the worship ministry? It’s important to set the example, and let others see you being a servant. Are you willing to put your time in the nursery? To show up for the work day at church? Help set up the sound and projectors? Set up chairs for rehearsal? Try to make it your goal to make it as easy as possible for others in the worship ministry to do their job. Give them all the tools they need to do their job well. Be prepared for rehearsals and don’t waste their time.

Finally, being a servant to your congregation may be the most challenging aspect to fully grasp. Being up in front week after week, it’s very easy to let the lights, the applause, the excitement, the positive feedback pull your heart away from being that of a servant. How can you best serve your congregation as a worship leader? Make sure you are spending time on your own before the Lord in worship before Sunday morning. You are most able to serve them and meet their needs if you come with a full heart. Also, know your congregation – what songs will best allow them to express their praise to the Lord. It may not be your favorite songs. Being a servant means putting their needs ahead of your own.

Whether you see yourself as a waitress, an usher or a court jester, as a worship leader you are first a servant. Greatness, in the eyes of the Lord, is not determined by your guitar playing or vocal skills, how many songs you’ve written, or how much applause you receive. In order to be great, you must first be servant to all. We have the greatest example of this in Jesus Christ, who humbled Himself, became a servant, and gave His life for all the world.

-Barry Westman

Barry is a member of the All About Worship Team and the Worship Pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Wisconsin.

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Barry Westman

Barry Westman

Barry has served in worship ministry for 20 years, currently serving as Worship Pastor at Bethel Baptist Church in Janesville, Wisconsin. He was born and raised in Minnesota, husband to Tina, and father to three beautiful children - Chad, Emily and Olivia. He usually leads worship from the keyboard and loves to play board games!

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