Recently, I had the privilege of being selected honorary coach for the Cedarville University Lady Jacket’s basketball team. It was a great experience–getting to cheer on the team and watch what happens “behind the scenes”.
While it was just fun to be a part of the whole process, what was most valuable to me was to watch other’s leadership styles. I was very impressed with our coaching staff. They led in a variety of ways from encouraging to yelling to prompting. The “take aways” of leadership for me were the following:
1. Goals – On the locker room white board were written ten objectives for the game. They were scoring goals and percentages, defensive goals, scouting reports and strategies for how the game was to be played. It was clear that a great deal of thought and preparation went into these goals.
2. Individual Goals – Before the game, the coach asked every player to formulate an personal goal in their mind. Then, one by one, the players were required to verbalize their goals before the whole team. Not only did they have to have their own goal, but by sharing their goals, they were now accountable to the whole team.
3. Calls for individual leadership – The coaches pointed out that there was a lack of leadership within the team in a previous game, and that certain people needed to step up. No names were called, but it was clear that some players needed to help exercise their natural leadership ability to help the team succeed.
4. Specialized assignments to leverage individual strengths – At half time, the coaches reminded the team that there were certain players that didn’t need to bring the ball down the court. Some were better at handling the ball than others. Others needed to not take shots, but get the ball in the hands of people who were shooting well.
5. Very little focus on individual achievement – Even though each player was to have their own personal goal, the focus was on the team. The only real individual recognition by the coach was one of the players who during the game became the 21st player to score over 1,000 points in her career. It was almost parenthetical, as the focus was on the team effort.
So – what does this have to do with worship? In many ways, I have more questions than specific answers. Perhaps in wrestling with these questions, we will examine what we do and improve our own “game”.
Maybe some of these principles should apply to worship leaders. What about setting goals? What about goals for an individual service? How about ministry goals? If we do set goals, are we good about communicating them? The amount of preparation for this game gave me pause to think about how much time I spend in preparation for a service.
What about challenging the members of our teams to set their own personal goals? How do we encourage our mediocre players who need help get better? How do we help our good players to be the best that they can be? Wouldn’t doing this make our groups be more effective?
How do we develop and empower leadership within our groups? We have to be careful about empowering people who will be positive leaders, but wouldn’t this help with giving people ownership of the ministry? Wouldn’t it help people exercise their spiritual giftedness? This leads us to point 4: how do we leverage people’s individual strengths? Some of our singers might be great at harmonizing, but shouldn’t sing a solo. Some might be great at strumming an acoustic guitar, but shouldn’t play lead on the electric.
Lastly, we need to make sure that we focus on the effort of the whole team, rather than focus on individual effort. Sometimes when we have a strong player on our team, they can dominate the musical mix or even our attention, when perhaps it is the weaker players who also need our attention and need to develop so that the whole is stronger.
Wouldn’t it also be great if we could call a time out in worship? Perhaps have a team huddle? We could make adjustments in the dynamics and tempos. We could also bench people who were having an off day. ☺