17 Habits of Effective Local Worship Leaders

David Santistevan
Do you observe these habits? (Facebook)

Sometimes I'll ask the guests on my podcast, "When you think of the word 'successful' who is the first person that comes to mind?"

Often, they are taken off guard and feel a little awkward. I love the question because successful means different things to different people. I become a better person when I learn about what other people value.

Most people define successful on a personal level: having this much money, possessing this much freedom, having this job, family, possession, status, etc. That is great. But when it comes to following Jesus, there are some additional markers we need to judge "successful" by.

We humans may have an opinion of what success looks like on this earth, but God's definition of success is completely different. It's a whole new world (cue Aladdin soundtrack). It's a different value system. Today I'm not here to undermine personal, career and financial goals. Those are important and often are reflective of a life that has its priorities in order.

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But what does the Bible say about success? What is God's opinion? And more specifically, what is the definition of success as a worship leader? I'm looking forward to the comments one this one, because the answers simply can't be contained in a single blog post. There is simply too much depth to this answer.

What are the habits of highly effective worship leaders? What do successful worship leaders do?

Here are 17 worship leader habits you should look into. Effective worship leaders:

1. See (and continue to see) the glory of God. You become what you behold. You grow into what you consistently lay your eyes on. A good worship leader has history in God and continues to make history with God every single day.

2. Know the depth of their sin. A truly great worship leader isn't very impressed with himself. He sees the darkness in his own heart and sees himself in light of the overwhelming glory of God. When you know who you are in and of yourself, there's not much to be impressed by.

3. Know the greatness of God's mercy. At the same time, a great worship leader knows the greatness of mercy. Deserving of wrath, the true and just sentence over our lives should be everlasting separation from God. But God ... but God who is rich in mercy ... This truth causes one to lead worship with a brokenhearted, humble joy.

4. Value "serving" over "performance." A true worship leader doesn't waste time trying to impress people. They have a heart to serve people. Their preparation, practice and programming are aimed to pastor people in their pursuit of God, not build their fanbase.

5. Are influenced by the needs of their local church. It's one thing to be influenced by the songs, creativity and artistic vision of the latest Bethel Music release. It's another to know the stories of your congregation—to know what they are going through. Sure, you can't know everyone's story. But knowing a few will change the way you lead.

6. Are on a path of continuous learning and worship development. A true leader doesn't stagnate. They are constantly learning from others, receiving feedback, keeping a pulse on what is new, and mining the depths of history to learn.

7. Never do ministry alone. Ministry isn't just the pursuit of being used by God. It's the pursuit of helping others be used by God. A great worship leader understands this. They don't just lead worship. They are always bringing others along with them to coach, train, teach and develop.

8. Have kingdom values. No, worship leadership isn't a platform to broadcast talent. It's place to execute the values of God's kingdom. Building people, preaching the gospel, praying for lost souls and serving off the stage.

9. Honor and serve their lead pastor's vision. A vision drifting on its own, apart from the blessing and vision of the lead pastor will be destructive to the local church. A worship leader isn't there to pursue his own creative fancy. He's there to serve what God is doing in a community. Get behind your pastor and do whatever it takes to make his vision come to pass.

10. Keep an open mind. Sounds, styles, methods—these are all ever changing. A great worship leader doesn't stay locked into one way of doing ministry. He's not locked into pursuing his own preferences. He does what is best for his ever growing, ever changing ministry.

11. Don't neglect the practical aspects of their craft. Great worship leaders don't just learn worship songs and prepare their heart. They prioritize the practicalities of what they do. They practice their instrument. The work on their singing. They don't just leave public speaking to chance. Excellence is in the details.

12. Take the backseat. One of the hallmarks of great worship leadership is knowing who you are and what your gift is. You empower others; therefore you're not afraid to give someone else the spotlight. You may not be the best singer, so you surround yourself with others who are. A great worship leader takes the backseat to allow others a chance to grow.

13. Delegate. One of the greatest myths of leadership is the lie that you need to be the best at everything. No, a great leader knows how to build a team and surround themselves with people who are better than them. They don't do all the work—they do what only they can do and delegate the rest.

14. Have a prayer life. The praying person is a dependent person. The self-sufficient man has no need to pray because he believes he can make everything happen with his own talent and hard work. Great worship leaders know they need God for God-sized things to happen in their ministry. So they pray like a desperate, dying man in need of a miracle.

15. Know God's Word. The Bible, for the worship leader, isn't a book they read once. It's the lifeblood of their days. It's the foundation of their confidence as a leader. They are constantly looking to see something they haven't seen before. They want to worship in Spirit and in Truth.

16. Know their place. Good worship leaders knows they're not responsible for "ushering" people into the presence of God. They are merely a spotlight, drawing attention to Who does, namely, the Holy Spirit. We bring perspective to the rugged cross, the empty tomb, the torn veil and show people that they have access into the Presence of Holiness through Jesus. Worship leaders get out of the way and keep getting out of the way. Worship Leaders spotlight the rugged cross, the empty tomb, the torn veil, and get out of the way" (Tweet this).

17. Laugh a lot. Well, I suppose laughing isn't the important part. A great worship leader takes what they do with utmost seriousness but doesn't take themselves too seriously. They are quick to apologize, laugh at themselves, and admit when they are wrong. And they laugh a lot.

OK, now it's your turn, my friends. What would you add to this list? What disciplines or habits make a worship leader effective?

David Santistevan is the worship pastor at Allison Park Church in Pittsburgh. For the original article, visit davidsantistevan.com.

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