People skills

This past week I was honored to host the New Life Worship Team from New Life Church in Colorado Springs at our 4th Annual Worship 4:24 Conference at Cedarville University. There were MANY things that the team did very well, but perhaps the things that impressed me the most were their humbleness, authentic love for Jesus, and genuine care for people. All of these things we try to embrace as individuals, but as a professor, it is often hard to try to teach. It was great to have this modeled well in front of our students.

We have a motto at our school for our touring groups: “Impress from a distance, impact up close”. That is exactly what New Life did. I would say that they went beyond that, and both impressed and impacted from a distance. Their heart for God and compassion for people was aided by quiet and gentle humility, resulting in a great weekend of worship and building interpersonal relationships.

The “impact up close” of New Life Worship was also very good. I was struck with the whole team, but their leader, Brad Parsley, set the tone for humility and being personable. Some observations on leadership and people skills from what I observed this weekend.

1. Great leaders are humble.
The team this weekend showed great humility. Their intent was clearly was about exalting Christ–not anyone person, church or ministry. Some commented this was the most humble group of musicians that had ever seen. Luke 9:46-48 says

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all–he is the greatest.”

2. Great leaders make everyone feel special.
The team’s interaction with our students was amazing to watch. They engaged our students on every level. Within 10 minutes of their arrival for sound check, the leader knew every student worker’s name (which I didn’t having even worked with them in the past). Knowing someone’s names validates them as a person, and getting good remembering people’s names is an art unto itself. I was amazed to watch the team call people’s names in the hall between classes of people they had met only the day before. Dale Carnegie notes in “How to Win Friends and Influence People” that “a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Phil. 2:3 reminds us to value others more than ourselves:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.


3. Great leaders take time to listen.

Great leaders also make people feel special by giving up time for people by being good listeners. To listen well takes time and attention. Good listeners ask probing questions and show concern by asking good followup questions. Urging people to talk about themselves and interacting sincerely is a great way to show that you legitimately care about them. Good listeners aren’t in a hurry. We often had to move Brad to the next activity as he was engrossed in a conversation with someone. This is also a part of making people feel special and valuing them above yourself–all marks of being Christlike and ministering to others.

9 comments to People skills

  • Isaac Murrell

    As I am reading this, my heart sinks because I couldn’t attend this year’s conference. From reading this, it sounds like I missed out big time and could have been blessed and learned much from them. Looking at the three points, I can’t help but agree with all of them. Talking about ‘great leaders make people feel special,’ I can’t help but think of other people in my life who has showed this to me. Also, it makes me think older guys who would talk and listen to me when I was a younger child. It made me feel special, important, and accepted. It also made me want to be like them and do the same to other kids as I grew up. It really does influence others and edifies them in a huge way. This gets me fired up with excitement because of the positive impact, inspiration, and Christ-like example that can be given to the next generation which will bear fruit. I love this, and I’m bummed that I had to miss it! In all, when thinking about great leadership, the word “selflessness” stands out.

  • Eric M. Stigall

    This was a great experience. The heart of New Life and their willingness to go above and beyond to help people understand worship was incredible! Nico their pianist was amazing to get to spend some time with. Not only did he take the time to show me interesting things on the piano but also took the time to talk and share in some problem solving of ministry and how we can encourage other pianist in their musicality and service to the Lord. Great time overall! Learned a lot.

  • Jordan Redfield

    I think the team from New Life were a great example of putting into action all the things we acknowledge verbally in the classroom about what worship really is; service. Every aspect of their ministry was reflective of the ministry of Christ as summarized in Philippians 2. They met people where they were and served them in humility. They understood that worship ministry is so much more than leading music. They led worship through music in a profound and impacting way, but they didn’t allow themselves or their music to become a distraction from showing the love of Christ to the body of Christ, both while on the stage and off of it.

  • Joe Bennett

    I was blessed by New Life this past weekend as well. I find it incredibly encouraging that after the time you spent with the team you would commend them for “humbleness, authentic love for Jesus, and genuine care for people.” What better to be known for? Those characteristics are from the Spirit and are caught from those who exemplify them (1 Corinthians 11:1). More than being remembered for excellence in music, sound, theory, or theology (all of which I love), it is good to see a group that we can remember for their love for Christ and how that love flowed from them towards the people around them, both on and off the stage.

  • Robert Rhodes

    I was so amazed how talented New Life was, but like you said, I was even more amazed at their humility, approachability, and how personable they were. The last time I met a band like that was when I was able to meet Casting Crowns at a conference I was at. It just goes to show that when you step back and let go of any pride, the ways God can use you in your ministry are endless!

  • Jason Carnegis

    I totally agree with you about how New Life was an impact on us as worship majors. Just the fact that Brad shook my hand asked me my name as well as many others after we finished rehearsing for the night of worship made me feel special and important. As a group it was obvious that they all enjoyed worshiping with one another and that they all valued each other as musicians and people. There wasn’t any “divas” in the band, they all knew their responsibilities and didn’t act like they were rockstars. This was especially evident as they led worship on Friday night. They weren’t trying to put on a show, they were leading the audience to the throne of God. I think it makes worship easier when the congregation/audience knows the worship leader, and if we are humble like Christ was ultimately, and as the members of New Life were, the congregation can worship freely knowing that the people onstage value them and want authentic worship. It was such a blessing to have New Life here, God is doing an awesome thing with their church in Colorado Springs!

  • Zoe Jamison

    I completely agree with the fact that having New LIfe here was such a blessing. I would also agree that they are probably the most humble worship band that I have ever encountered. Not everyone saw this, but the coolest moment for me was during the worship time Friday night and there was just a time of music playing, Racheal put her microphone down, walked off the stage and knelt down on the floor to pray with a women that she had talked to earlier and had just met that day. That takes a lot of guts. I asked her about it later and she said that she was really nervous about doing it, but she felt that she needed to and that God wanted her to pray with that women. This not only took courage to actually leave the stage, but she had full confidence in her band as they were just going through a chord progression to wait until she got back on stage. I enjoyed the conference as a whole, but it was so encouraging and refreshing to witness worship leaders who genuinely put people before their music, which is what it is all about.

  • Grant McCurdy

    I couldn’t agree more with this response to New Life’s visit to campus. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend the main evening of worship, but I made a point of interacting with them before and after their chapel performance. As Dr. O wrote, Brad was a phenomenal leader and an incredibly humble man off the stage. He expressed care for everyone he interacted with. What I appreciated just much was the that he didn’t push himself on the audience onstage. Countless times he held the microphone so far away that you could barely hear him, and despite an amazing voice he was never the forefront of the mix. This whole group really embodied the concept of worshiping with the audience- not giving any semblance of a performance. Seeing this done was extremely valuable for me as a student.

  • Jacob Tudor

    After the conference, I can definitely say I was completely wow-ed! with the genuine heart and humbleness displayed all through the New Life group! Despite how fantastic of musicians they are, they do not give any credit to themselves. It always makes me think of Bach, because he got it! Soli deo gloria, the glory to God alone! They didn’t they make anything about the worship concert about themselves- with solos, leading, etc. We all sang everything together. As simple as that was, it really showed me a lot. It’s nice to have soloists, and to see the gifts God has given, and there’s nothing wrong with that at one level! But there is so much power in the corporate body all singing together in one voice. Not necessarily having one person stand out front as the star leader. Sure, Brad would sing the melody at times, or Rachel would, etc. But we would all sing WITH them! Crazy!