Labor to Find a Called Worship Leader

(Getty Images/E+-Delmaine Donson)

My friend Pastor Dan recently called me with an all-important question, "We're in need of a worship leader. Have any recommendations?" His church was looking for someone "solid, anointed, authentic and passionate."

I asked Dan to tell me what happened with the former worship leader. The last time we had touched base, he was happy with how things were going in that area and excited that there were even some new folks involved.

"Well, I have to say, I'm rather disappointed in [my former worship leader]," Dan explained. "I thought he was totally on board with our church and was here for the long haul. But he accepted a position with another church in another state, and for just a few more dollars a year!"

"Man, I'm sorry to hear that," I said. "I know you were really impressed when you hired him. So, tell me, how did you come about hiring him in the first place?"

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His answer was no surprise to me. And he is not alone. But his answer reveals a foundational issue, one we have created for ourselves, but also one we can change.

Churches everywhere find themselves in this situation at one time or another. We have a hole to fill, and we need to fill it fast! And let's face it, it's a lot to ask. We need someone who is humble, but at the same time able to lead well. We need someone who spends time in the Word, but at the same time is a master at their musical craft. We need someone who is anointed, and at the same time able to raise up others in the worship arts. We need someone who is—let's be honest—just like Jesus!

So off to the job postings we go. We meticulously list the job responsibilities, character values and experience we're looking for to fill this position. We gather resumes, then we take the top however many and narrow down what we want even more. We bring in the top candidates for high-level interviews and a test run and go through a final interview process. Having spent much time and effort in choosing the person we think is "just right," we welcome them aboard.

Sound familiar? If it does, you're in the majority of the congregations I come across. But what if there's another way? What if we've got all this backward?

What if, instead, we took our hands off of this process of choosing, and put it squarely in the Lord's hands? What if we rested from looking around and asking around, and only beseeched the Lord to send us just the right person—one whom we would dedicate ourselves to investing in to grow into his gifting and calling?

When I think of Jesus, it's clear He was "prayed up" and actively "seeking" the disciples the Father had in mind. Then He invested everything He had in them.

This is not just theory. This is my story. I was a young, inexperienced and, some would say, talented, musician who was hiding in my congregation. I had been somewhat involved in the music ministry of my previous church and had decided not to let anyone in my new church know I was a musician, let alone that I felt called to be a worship leader.

But this pastor prayed. And prayed. And prayed. He patiently waited on the Lord—and on me. The person who was leading worship at the time served faithfully, though he wasn't even called to be a worship leader. When the Lord revealed me to the pastor, he knew right away what he needed to do.

The pastor invested in me. He invested time in mentoring me in the Word. He invested money into a mentoring relationship with a seasoned worship leader who could teach me things only another worship leader would know. He invested patience while I grew. He was in it with me for the long haul.

What was the fruit of this approach? That pastor, my "father" in the Lord, has been blessed to see me grow as a worship leader and pastor in that church, raising up others to fulfill their calling. I have even had the privilege to minister across five continents to many thousands of worshippers.

This was all because a humble pastor—who knew nothing about worship leading—was convinced the Lord would build His house (Ps. 127:1a, NKJV). He prayed and prayed and prayed, believed in the Lord and believed in me. He invested in mentoring and eventually reaped what he had sown.

I encourage you, brothers and sisters, whether you have someone in the worship leader's role or are looking for someone—rest. Let the Lord build His house. He knows what He's doing and whom to call.

Let us be committed to recognizing the gifts the Lord has given to us through His people, and empowering and blessing them to use those gifts for His glory and purposes.

Tim Sauvé led worship and served on the pastoral staff at a local church for 13 years. He is now president and CEO of Worship Interactive, an international ministry that focuses on unifying the body of Christ through worship mentoring and teaching.

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