I'd like to hear about your experiences and get your thoughts when dealing with someone who thinks they can sing.
I will be meeting with someone from our worship team tonight who has repeatedly expressed a desire to lead worship, but she can't sing. It has all been blowing up recently because I added a new person to the team who has an AMAZING voice and now she feels overlooked.
Anyhow, I'm going to start by thanking her for her faithfulness and dedication to the team. Then i'll get into, "the reason you have not been given an opportunity to lead"... and tell her that her vocals are not strong enough for a lead singer position.
I'm praying that being open and honest will help, but this person does not know how to take constructive criticism. Either way, I'm tired of politely beating around the bush hoping she would get a hint. It won't be an easy discussion, but I need to be direct.
I've been told that my voice is not strong enough for a lead vocal, so I've actually been on the receiving end of this kind of conversation. The only thing I can offer from "the other person's" point of view is that if this person's voice is not strong enough, what do you have in place for this person to improve?
Back when my husband and I were directors of high school worship teams, we had to confront a few singers whose voices were not quite there. Their hearts for the Lord was awesome, and we honored that! At the same time, we HAD to find a way to help them improve. Otherwise, they would feel rejected, expendable, and useless to ministry. One vocal was too busy with other commitments that her case worked out for the good. Also, her dad was standing there during our conversation. So, there was some accountability there as well. Another vocal was encouraged through vocal training, and WOW - her improvement SOARED! Another vocal had a decent voice, but she was a "run" singer. She could do all kinds of runs with her voice, but could not sing a song with control. So, we asked her if she would consider some vocal training. We had suggestions and tried to keep the cost DOWN. Not sure what transpired afterwards since we left the church shortly after.
I've been there on both sides of the coin, and it is NEVER easy. I would simply suggest to have something in place for this person to improve. If the Lord is motivating her to use her voice for worship, she should NEVER be turned down, even if it means she can learn from some talented people on the team before she sings publicly. Just my 2 cents.
Hope all that makes sense. Blessings to you!!!!!
Melanie Siewert, Christ's Servant
I have what I call "the audition before the audition". Anybody who shows an interest in being on stage leading worship with our band and wants to have a formal audition must first talk with me and agree that they will not be offended or feel any personal anger towards me or anyone in the band if my decision is not what they had hoped for. If they can't promise me that, they don't get an audition. If they do promise me, then I can always return to this conversation and remind them what they agreed to if they ever show any anger or bitterness toward me.
This one little thing has kept me from ever having to deal with the issues that come along with telling somebody "no". It still hurts to have to say "no", and I fully understand if people feel a little hurt or rejected, but that is the nature of the beast.
I would suggest, if you've never given this person a formal audition, that you talk about these things in your meeting, and then schedule an audition. Even if you already know what your decision will be, you will have given this person the chance to prove their abilities and given yourself a chance to, in an acceptable way, say "no". I would encourage you to have another person or two present for the audition, BTW. And, have "plan B" in place...help this person find the ministry that he/she IS capable of.
I will never understand why being loving but direct takes a back seat to the drama of 'taking a hint'. Maybe it's because I grew up and spent the first 10 years of my working life in environments where people were....well, I'll just say there was absolutely no doubt or room for interpretation how you stood with someone. It gave me pretty thick skin. So it frustrates me to see the 'deliverers' being too subversive and dropping hints instead of just getting on with it. Likewise, it frustrates me when 'receivers' crumble over every little criticism. Put your 'grown up' pants on and receive it.I'm tired of politely beating around the bush hoping she would get a hint. It won't be an easy discussion, but I need to be direct.
Be careful with this, too. Just because someone can't sing *now* doesn't always mean they should immediately be written off and diverted to another ministry. Billy Graham was told early in his career he didn't have what it takes to be a preacher. The Disciples were told they didn't have what it takes to be rabbis. We forget about the examples of people in the Bible that God developed into great leaders who did't fit the preconceived notions and stereotypes. As another case in point, I have done research into pastoral stats and found one piece of data-BTW. And, have "plan B" in place...help this person find the ministry that he/she IS capable of.
* 50% of all who enter the pastoral profession leave the ministry after 5 years- the number of seminary and bible school grads that leave the ministry is 80%.
In this case the 'trained' pastors are leaving the ministry at higher rates than lay pastors. It just reinforces the fact we as people are too quick to write off someone else who doesn't fit our preconceptions of someone who has what it takes.
I understand that not all are that way, but give them a chance. Someone gave me a chance. Someone gave you a chance. Be loving but honest. Let them know what they need, and why they need it. Give them an opportunity to meet the expectation. Then it's in their hands to do something with it.
Thank you for sharing about your experiences, I just read all your post and they are full of great advice.
I had the meeting and it went really well. I told her that her voice was not strong enough to lead and I gave her several examples. She even offered to sing right then and there so that I could point out exactly what I was talking about. I suggested to her to take singing lessons so that she could learn to control her voice.
I had one of my lead singers sit in with me through this conversation and this was very helpful.
I recently had a horrible audition experience. It was so bad that I stopped in the middle of the audition and told the person that there was just no way this was going to work out. Usually most people I deal with are more self aware and she was just completely out of touch. I normally record the audition so that the person can have something to work with after the audition. For some reason this didn't happen and wow, what a mistake that was. It all ended up in a big stink and a lot of phone calls. In the end I have learned that recording an audition or singing session can go a long way!!!
I love the "audition before the audition" part!
I have the advantage that I'm a very blunt person.. I don't mind telling people how it is (but I'm also a heavily trained musician, and know exactly what I'm talking about I talk theory and can tell them exactly what's wrong.. That seems to help), if someone can't carry a note,, I tell them.. In this case,, I would simply say, my friend. I love that you are passionate about singing, but, I'm gong to do you a favor and tell you this straight up., and I'm going to do it in the most loving way I can., and the loving way is to be honest,, you can't sing,, .. Honesty is love. That's how I've done it,, and you know what. People have always left those meetings thanking me,, and yelling at their parents!!
It's like american idol. You have those people who honestly think they can sing,, the reason they think they can sing is because their families have always told them they have a beautiful voice even when they suck.. Ten they get made fun of in front of the world... I figure by being honest I'm just saving them from being the next William hung...
The truth hurts sometimes.. But it's the truth. God gave me the gift of not having a filter,, sometimes it works for me, sometimes it works against me.. Hoping your meeting went well.. The reality is, someone on a mic, leading worship who can't sing, is going to be a distraction in worship, and god is clear in the scriptures. We are not to be a distraction.
People's feelings will be hurt sometimes. But it's a part of being a leader.. You can't be loved by everyone.
I will also say though, that having a relationship with someone makes a difference.. I wouldn't ever talk this way to someone who had only been coming to the church for a short time. But I also wouldn't let someone audition who had only been coming to the church for a couple months
Last edited by chrisburke; 12-31-2012 at 04:43 PM.
I dont want to hijack this thread, but I have a similar situation along the same topic. We have a person who sings specials that has no concept of pitch or key. Neither I or the pastor have been able to come up with a way to politely tell them he can no longer sing specials and why. We've gotten to the point where we tell them no for several months but allow him to sing once in a while. This person is very fragile and I fear harming them with the news they cant sing. Help?
As I said.. I think we just have to tell ppl.. When we beat around the bush, or drop hints, many ppl don't get it, because they truly think they are awesome.. Especially when you've allowed it for so long.. And knowing the church, everyone probably told him what a good job he did after the service.. Stop beating around the bush, apologize to him that you left it so long, because you really shouldn't have, but tell him unless he improves, he can't sing anymore.. And as has been said, make recommendations on how to improve.. Tape a song.. So he can hear it, and show him where he's goes wrong (for example, if the song starts in G but he ends in D, show him how and why that's very very wrong) recommend a singing instructor.. It's not your job to teach him how to sing..