Five Strategies for Worship Leaders to Deal With Negative Feedback

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Recently, a discouraged worship leader confided in me that she was experiencing opposition in her church. She was uncertain how to handle it. This article reflects some ideas you can apply to deal with opposition by gaining clarity and ordering your next steps.

Leading worship is harder than it looks, isn’t it? The worship leader’s journey is a roller coaster ride of emotional highs and lows. Though it can be an incredibly rewarding area in which to serve, the multitude of challenges can be overwhelming.

Sometimes you’ll receive feedback or input from others that you experience as opposition and spiritual attack. Most commonly this is presented as a criticism or complaints about something.

How do you process that in a positive and constructive way? What should you do next?

Though it may hurt your feelings, don’t take criticism personally. (I know that’s easier said than done for most of us sensitive/creative/worshiper personality types.)    

Use opposition as an opportunity to grow and improve. With that in mind, here is a five step plan on how to process negative feedback.

1. Describe.

Describe in writing all the problem(s) as clearly and precisely as you can. Writing it down is essential because it aids clarity and discernment. Often times you’ll get solutions just by thinking through an issue on paper.

Also, as an encouragement and idea generator, write down what’s positive and working well. It just may inspire more good ideas!

2. Discern.

Discernment grasps what is not obvious, it “reads between the lines.” Discernment sees through superficial appearance so you can evaluate or judge accurately.

So what do you discern is really going on? What’s below the surface? And what is the Holy Spirit saying to you about it?

Spiritual warfare comes with the territory according to Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Some common examples of opposition rooted in spiritual principalities are:

1) A “religious” spirit manifest as “we’ve never done that before / that’s the way we’ve always done it”, and many other iterations.

2) An apathetic spirit manifest as a “I couldn’t care less” attitude.

3) A rebellious spirit manifest as a “you aren’t the boss of me” attitude.

4) A critical spirit that specializes in fault-finding and continually being unhappy about something.

5) That’s not all! There are literally “legions” of other principalities that worship leaders come up against!

Prayer – and a team of intercessors – is of course, the most powerful and effective counter-measure. But not every complaint is rooted in spiritual opposition.

Sometimes people just have their own issues, and/or you have issues.

We all struggle with the sin dynamics that are common to all of us – the world, the flesh and the devil. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:15-17 ).

Dealing with “people” issues is complex. Realize it may not be possible to make everybody happy.

However, take 100% responsibility for what you can do. Own your “stuff.”

There are things you could and should practically address.

3. Get Practical.

Work on improving the practical skills needed to respond to the areas of complaint. Some common examples of issues you can correct through skill development include:

1. If you close your eyes too much during worship and lose engagement, work on connecting with people and taking them with you “into the throne room.”

2. If you have trouble playing and singing fast songs, practice a few and train your muscle memory to play them more automatically.

3. If the issue is timbre of voice – work on your vocal tone and/or get voice coaching if you’re too shrill or pitchy.

4. Make Adjustments.

Some issues may be rooted in your service planning. Adjust accordingly. Here are some typical problems that can be addressed through better service planning:

1. Song choice. If people complain there are “too many slow songs”, then pick some fast ones!

2. Make sure the songs are in singable keys for the congregation.

3. Try to have a good balance of familiar songs with some fresh choices that fit your context.

5. Persevere.

Show some grit. Hang in there with a positive, optimistic attitude. You’re there to serve, right? Speak the truth in love. Fight the good fight. Also, communicate the adjustments you are making to your leadership so they know you’re working on improvement.

I hope these ideas encourage you to overcome the opposition you are experiencing. First, write down the issues. Second, discern between what is spiritual and what is practical. Third, do what you can to practically address them. And finally, pray with the fortitude of a humble overcomer. You can do all things through Jesus Christ !

Prayer:

Father I pray you would release the spirit of wisdom and revelation to those who are struggling with opposition. I pray you would give them great discernment between what is spiritual and what can be done practically. I pray you would encourage them deep in their inner spirit. I pray that the Spirit of the Lord would arise and shine through them in the ministry where they serve. May You be glorified in all they say and do. In Jesus mighty name, Amen.

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