Worship Leaders: 5 Ways to Receive Compliments


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Recently, I had the privilege of being part of a group of guys that led worship for a large group of men for our annual men’s retreat. The entire weekend was a blast and I’m already anticipating next year’s! We had a great time in our sessions and contrary to what most would expect about a group of men like this, the “room” (you can see it is actually a large tent) was inundated with bass, baritone, and tenor voices rising in praise and worship. It was great.

I feel like the times and spaces we set aside to create environments for worship through music were successful, mainly because I received more compliments throughout the weekend then I ever have.

“Worship was great!”

“That music was wonderful.”

“Every song you sing is like an anthem. I can tell it comes from your heart!”

“I love that song!”

“You guys are awesome!”

“You have a beautiful voice.”

“You have an anointed spirit of worship.”

…and so on. These are some of the compliments I heard throughout the weekend. One could easily slip into human nature and think too highly of one’s self after hearing these compliments. But honestly, one of the BEST things that I learned from my parents when I was growing up was how to give honor and glory to God. I’m by no means perfect, but I’m thankful that they exemplified deferential behavior to me as a young worship leader, and so now without further ado, I pass along these five ways to receive compliments.

1) It’s Not About You, It’s About Jesus!

I hope you know and understand this about your times of worship leading. This is basic. We do what we do to serve others. Primarily, God. And at the same time, those people that are present in our gathering. Serving through music by creating that time and space musically brings honor and glory to God.

When someone offers you a compliment, let that same desire to serve shine through when you respond. It doesn’t mean that you have to be falsely humble, but you can accept it graciously and with an attitude of thankfulness to God for the opportunity. A quick “Thank You” will do as long as your heart is in the right place.

2) It’s Not About You, It’s About Jesus!

In the same way that we hope and pray (and strive) for our setlists to be a conduit through which God can shine His light through we also can allow our “after setlist time” to shine that light. Nothing sours people more than an arrogant musician.

“Hey, great time of worship this morning!”

“Yeah, I know, we really were on this morning! My riffs were smoking!” (not a good response)

Pray for humility and be gracious in your acceptance of compliments.

3) It’s Not About You, It’s About Jesus!

Do people come to “know Jesus more” and more through your times and spaces of musical worship? Prayerfully consider allowing that same environment, or maybe the residual effects of that environment, to carry over into your conversations AFTER your gatherings take place.

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit  of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. (Ephesians 1:17 NIV)

Let them see Jesus! A brief “Thank You” with a smile will suffice!

4) It’s Not About You, It’s About Jesus!

You might be detecting a pattern here!

Does praise “fit” you?

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him. (Psalm 33:1 NIV)

The New American Standard Bible says praise is “becoming to the upright.” The King James Version says “praise is comely for the upright.” All these phrases mean the same thing: beautiful. The Hebrew word is Na’veh and it literally means suitable; beautiful.

Praising God suits us! It makes us “beautiful.” When we truly give God honor and glory (especially when receiving compliments) it is a beautiful thing! When we try and receive the compliment for ourselves (instead of deflecting the focus to God) it is ugly.

5) It’s Not About You, It’s About Jesus!

This last point might be a little different than the others, but I feel like it still gives us an opportunity to let them see Jesus.

Is there a way that you can turn that compliment into conversation?

One of the things, I’ve found really helpful in making an initial connection with someone is actually building a conversation from the compliment. Instead of just saying “thank you” and moving on, we have an opportunity to linger for a moment in what could be a neat (but brief) time to connect with the person doing the complimenting.

After you humbly say thanks for the compliment, you could steer the conversation with questions such as:

  • What song was your favorite?
  • What about the setlist jumped out at you today?
  • Were there any lyrics that really made you feel alive as we sang them?
  • What is God speaking to you today?

…and so on. I believe that God is honored through that “receiving” of a compliment and the conversation that results is definitely one that is insightful to us as worship leaders, and on a more simple level, as a friend.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. (Colossians 4:6 NIV)

And remember, it’s not about you, it’s about Jesus!


Russ Hutto is the Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church where he mentors, oversees and helps lead Family and Student worship environments. He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community.