Exodus 17:8-13 reads:
The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
As a worship leader, the relationship with your Senior Pastor is the most important professional relationship you have. You should guard it with all your heart. You should protect it with all your strength.
Your senior pastor is the spiritual leader of your church
The pastor is in a position of authority for a reason. Maybe he or she started or planted the church, or maybe they were hired by a board or your church body. In any case, the senior pastor is the spiritual leader of the church, and the one through whom God guides and directs the church. This is the vision you as a worship leader need to align to.
How can you nurture your relationship
So how can we build this relationship in a healthy way. Here are a few thoughts…
- Communicate to your pastor that you are for them – not against them. In many churches (and I’ve been a part of some), there is a rift between the senior pastor and worship leader. In my experience, it almost always comes down to music preferences (generational, stylistic, etc). The reality is your pastor and/or leadership team has a vision for your church, and the style of worship should fit that vision. Your job as a worship leader is to facilitate that – not fight against it. So set up a meeting – even better – take them to lunch (AND PAY FOR IT YOURSELF), and tell your pastor that you are on their side – you are for them.
- Ask your pastor how you can best serve him/her. Begin a conversation with your pastor or leadership team about how you as the worship leader can best serve the vision of the church. Come up with a game plan and get as detailed as possible. What would your pastor like the worship experience to be like on Sunday mornings? What kind of volunteer team(s) would your church like to build when it comes to worship and production? How can church leadership best support you in that role? How can you support leadership in that role? What do you want your rehearsals to look like? Ask your pastor how far in advance they’d like the music planned – and if they say 2 weeks, tell them you’d prefer 1 month and see what they say :). Get input from your pastor on the nitty gritty stuff, and get on the same page. Your pastor will probably ask for your input as well – it’s at this point (and not before), that you have an opportunity to talk about your vision and preferences.
- Tell your pastor that you’ve got their back, and ask them to have yours. If you’ve been in ministry long enough, you know exactly what I mean here. People love to complain. And they are looking for someone to complain to. Inevitably you’ll have people complain to you about your pastor – and your pastor will probably have people complain to them about you. You need to fiercely defend your pastor (even if you agree with the complaint). This is so important. Here’s my favorite response… “I’m sorry you feel this way – but honestly I think it would be best if you spoke to the pastor about that – he’s right here – let’s set up a meeting”. That almost always ends it.
- If you do have an issue with your pastor, resolve in in person, privately. Never, ever vocalize an issue with your pastor publicly or with members of your congregation before first talking with them in person about it. If you don’t feel like you can, pray for courage. I guarantee you, speaking about your pastor behind their back is a recipe for disaster, and it will never end well.
But what if we just can’t see eye to eye?
If you have genuinely tried to reconcile differences with your pastor, or you just can’t get on board with the vision of the church where you lead worship, the reality is you probably aren’t in the place God has for you. This is a very difficult position to be in, but I honestly don’t believe God calls us to places where we cannot align with the vision.
If it’s over things like style of music, then you need to swallow your pride and serve your church, but if there are larger theological issues, you should, again, have conversations with leadership about it, and if you can’t come to alignment, it may be time to step down.
So what about the Amalekites
Opening this post in the middle of a battle from the book of Exodus seems strange, but here’s why it matters…
Your pastor is fighting a battle. And he’s tired. He’s been holding his arms up for a long, long time. He needs you to hold them up for him from time to time. And if you’re pulling down on them, you need to cut it out – now.
Be like Aaron and Hur – fight the fight together. Because if you don’t, the enemy will destroy you.