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Worship leader submission to pastor

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  • Worship leader submission to pastor

    I need help regarding a situation between myself and the pastor of our church. Some background: When our pastor, let's call him Bob, first started attending our small church years ago, I was on the worship team but not leading. He had history with our church and our then pastor, and eventually took on the worship leader role. Over a course of years and events, he started mentoring me to lead and then a couple of years ago became the lead pastor. In that time, he and his wife became like parents to me.

    That being said, I had a lot of trouble taking over as worship leader for two reasons: one, because I'm a woman in leadership. And two, because some of the current team members had a hard time accepting my leadership over his. They would still go straight to him over me on a lot of issues. I also had to learn to accept the leadership that was given to me, and not be afraid to stand up for myself. Needless to say, the past couple of years have been very trying.

    In the past year though, I've finally (with God's help) stepped into the position I believe He's called me to. I'm finally earning respect from the members of my team. I've learned to be confrontational, in love, when needed. I've learned how to give direction in our music. However, Bob also started playing drums on the team because we had a need. It was a cool setup, because I was still receiving guidance from him without him being directly in the leadership position.

    Recently, Bob had been pushing me more and more to stand my ground with certain team members because of heart attitudes. They've had to be gently, and not so gently corrected. They were jealous of my leadership to a point that they would challenge me behind my back to Bob.

    Bob made it clear to them that I have his full support, and that when he's on the stage he will even humble himself to my leadership. If I feel something is off, or think a song needs to go in a different direction, he has encouraged me to speak up and not worry about whether he agrees.

    However, at our last practice, he made a suggestion about one of the songs a team member wrote, and when we played it through one time, I sensed her hesitation, and then tried something different. Bob insisted his way worked, and the team member ended up agreeing, so I left it as is.

    Had a discussion with Bob today in which he stated he feels I'm fighting with him a bit over leadership. He gave that moment at practice as an example. He said that while I'm the worship leader, worship still falls under his care as lead pastor. This is something I've never had any qualms about - he is absolutely responsible for the spiritual well being of all aspects of the church, including the worship. And I value his input in the music because of his experience. I said I didn't feel I was fighting him, but that I would pray about it. He told me that after praying, if I felt he was wrong just to let him know and he'd let it go. This was a friendly discussion.

    Now that I have prayed about it, this is what comes to mind - there is a tension between us as leaders. On the one hand, I want to respect his authority, but on the other hand, I need my team to respect mine. There are times when I feel like he is actually fighting me - he sometimes unnecessarily and probably unintentionally takes over aspects of our practice sessions, and I let him because I'm used to it, and I'm not sure it's something I should be standing up to him over. But now I have to wonder where the line is between his leadership and mine? Do I allow him, as the pastor, to control whatever aspects he deems necessary? Or do I put my foot down and treat him like my other team members (to a degree) while he's practicing with us? I do feel a bit as though things would be completely different if he were not actually playing on the team with us. I think that's causing part of the confusion. Part of me wants to suggest he just pastors and not play for a while, but I do value his guidance as well.

    Thoughts and scriptural references would be very much appreciated. TIA!

  • #2
    He is micromanaging.

    As a manager in Corporate America, I get a LOT of leadership training. I was in a similar situation where I was promoted to manage and had to 'lead' my former peers. It's not easy. It takes time to establish that level of influence and authority. I had to be consistent, assertive, and at the same time make sure they knew i had their backs no matter what.

    From this account, I see a few things happening. One, there is a level of familiarity and history there that is making it harder. The team knows he is the head dude, they know he led the team, and there is some level of discontent over you being the 'leader'. The team still sees him as the leader and not you. The familiarity of 'she's just one of us' and they don't see you as a leader. Think of the time Jesus went back to his hometown to try to preach and minister (Matthew 13). As Jesus went back to his hometown and started to preach and prophesy, they basically said, "wait- this is the carpenter's son, Mary's his mom, he's just one of us"- the didn't honor him as a prophet, and He wasn't able to perform miracles. Jesus wasn't honored as a prophet because the townspeople didn't recognize His role. The concept of familiarity is the same in this situation. "Oh, it's just Songbird, she was just one of us until Bob became lead pastor and someone had to take over the team. She might be the worship leader but Pastor Bob has the final say". In the same respect, Bob is coming in and trying to micromanage to his own tastes. Even though it's ultimately his responsibility, the way he is going about it is neutering your ability to lead the team.

    Have you discussed with him that when the team goes to you and he 'overrides' you that it completely undermines the team's respect and recognition for your role as leader? I would probably explain it as "I appreciate what you are trying to do, but you tell me to direct the song but if you don't like it, you overrule me and undermine me in front of the team. You mentored me and coached me as a leader, but I am not you. We are going to have differences. I will never be recognized as the leader as long as you second-guess and override my decisions. If you really believe you support me, then let me do my job. With all due respect, either lead, follow, or get out of the way" (maybe not that blunt)

    Hope it works out for you

    If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.


    • #3
      Bob needs to step down from being on the worship team. When I took my current job 12 years ago, the pastor was in the band. One of the requests I had during my interviews was that he step away from that ministry when I came on staff. It was the best decision we could have made.

      Practical Worship

      Please Pray For My Wife