Worship Leader or Worship Pastor: What are You?

Who has impacted your life the most? Your parent(s), a friend, a mentor? How did they do it? When thinking about these questions we will most likely all have something in common… the people who have and are impacting our lives the most do so on a personal level. We all have celebrity role models, whether they are movie stars, rock stars, or celebrity pastors/ authors is irrelevant, because these people can only do so much… they can instruct from a distance on an impersonal level but that is their limitation. What about the average blue collar guy who lives life beside us and speaks wisdom into our heads and hearts everyday.

What makes him special?

The thing that sets the important people around us apart from others is the personal interactions we share with them. They live life beside us… they are in the trenches beside us everyday. We know that when the going gets tough that they are the ones who will stand strong beside us through it all. They truly care. Did you catch that?

They truly care.

 Do you care? Do we as worship “pastors” care?

I found it interesting that the word pastor is derived from Latin where it literally means “shepherd” and relates to the Latin verb “pascere” which means, “to lead to pasture, set to grazing, cause to eat.” Shepherds in Biblical times lived amongst their flock. They consistently worked with them and taught them the best way to go. The sheep responded to the voice of their shepherd and trusted that he would not lead them astray. At night a shepherd would gather their flock into a pen or cave and sleep across the entrance in order to protect their sheep from predators that lurked around in the night. Shepherds cared for their sheep, and they demonstrated that caring by being there beside them and tending to their needs.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me. -John 10:11-14

Are we being pastors? Are we being shepherds? If roles were reversed and you were in another person’s shoes would you trust YOUR “sheep” to you?

Here comes the hard question… How do you view your role in ministry?

Back in September of 2014 I had to answer that tough question myself. One day at Southern Seminary I found myself early for class and face-to-face with a wonderful professor who asked me that same question. It was tough. He said, “Tanner, you have all the right answers. You do all the right things… but, do you love your sheep?” Those simple words started a chain reaction and revolution of my thoughts towards “worship ministry.” You see, being a worship pastor isn’t just for those with exceptional musical talent. Being a worship pastor takes exactly that… being a pastor.

In my opinion a worship ministry is very limited without the presence of a pastoral figure. Hear me out! People may worship along with that ministry… individually, but without someone nurturing them, protecting them, and caring for them we truly are just giving them a song to sing. A pastor watches over his flock to see that they grow spiritually. A worship pastor wants to see his congregation and team grow as worshipers. The term “Worship Leader” seems to place the emphasis on leading a service (which we do). “Worship Pastor” takes the emphasis off of the service and places it onto the people… the sheep.

Do you lead the singing portion of the service or do you lead people?

We take our jobs seriously. We spend countless hours finding songs, reviewing songs, rehearsing songs, and leading our teams/ congregations. But… how much time do we invest in people? It’s about more than a song folks. I believe that it is time for us to focus less on the sound and more on the heart, less on our talents and abilities and more on the needs of our congregations, less on perfection and more on the motive. In the end, what we do should amount to more than 5-6 songs on a Sunday. We should be investing into the lives of those around us, shepherding them and impacting them on a personal level.

True discipleship and pastoring takes place up close on a personal level.

Sheer musical talents and abilities won’t cut it. Let’s set out to be pastors together. We want to bring more than a song. Let us pray together for the compassion and patience it takes to shepherd God’s people. Let us pray for wisdom and the ability to carry each other’s burdens. Let us pray for sensitivity, and most importantly let us pray for change.

I will leave you with wise words from Proverbs 27:23. It says, “Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds.”

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