Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

Worship Leader Confidential

I will never forget the terrifying feeling of my first performance conducting the amalgamation of my band with a full orchestra of hired guns as a worship leader back in the early 90?s. We were playing the music of the Michael W. Smith Christmas album with hand-written scores I had obtained by personally calling arranger Ron Huff.

?There are hand-written corrections,? he said. ?Some of the ?corrections? aren?t even right. These scores are by no means publisher ready.?

My fateful reply, ?Send them on!?

I was determined, and in way over my head.

I also remember the first major fight with my sweet bride of less than a year was related to my preparation for these concerts. The details aren?t important. But, I needed the exclusive use of our living room to practice my conducting, because that was where the stereo was. How could she not understand?

There was cursing. I didn?t know she knew those words. I sent her to ?her? room. Yes, I actually shouted in exasperation, ?Guh? guh? Go to your room!?

She didn?t go, by the way. Good for her.

As a young leader, I was carrying the burden of great expectations. Our church was going to raise the bar artistically and reach our community! This is what I, the young, talented hotshot, had been hired to do.

I was being pushed way beyond my comfort zone, and I was consumed with insecurity and fear of embarrassment, loss of respect, and perhaps even my job. Was I really cut out for this?

It wouldn?t be the last time. Insecurities ? I?ve got them.

Twenty years later, I still do ? though they change, and I have grown with them. I?ve also learned through years of great relationships with other leaders and peers, that we all have them.

Some of our insecurities are unique to us ? a peculiar reflection of our own weaknesses, real or perceived ? and some are more common, the things that tend to ?go with the territory? of our trade.

As I was thinking about these things, I decided to shout out to a diverse list of our peers via email ? some folks with names you?ve never heard of, and others that you would know ? you are singing some of their songs. I promised anonymity, so you?ll never know. Wink.

I appreciated the very honest responses I received, and I can confirm this: It doesn?t matter how big your church or ministry, if you have a record deal or not, or how ?successful? or well known you are. You face insecurity as a worship leader.[quote]You face insecurity as a worship leader.[/quote]

Here are three big ones:


Believe it or not, this is the most common insecurity I?ve heard expressed by worship leaders. Some feel insecure about how young they are ? that other leaders and team members are questioning their readiness for the responsibility of leadership. It?s hard to be one of the youngest staff members. It?s challenging to inherit a band of seasoned musicians who may view you as inexperienced.

Many express concerns about their older age. Can you keep up? When is the pastor (who may already be younger than you) going to decide it?s time to bring in a younger face? There are still churches making the contemporary or postmodern turn in style. Can you make the transition?

I have vivid memories of the former, and I am right in the middle of the latter. This is real stuff.


Am I respected: by my church, pastor (and other staff), or my team? This is a common insecurity, and my female worship leader friends express a specific twist on this concern related to their gender in what they describe as a ?male dominated profession?.

I have a friend seeking a post-graduate degree in theology because of his concern about being respected in this area. He is talented enough to dive into his career as a full-time worship leader right now, but he decided to delay his career in favor of putting this insecurity to rest.

How many of us have faced the sense that ?we?re just the music guy (or gal)?, and that we don?t have much of a voice in deeper or more strategic matters of ministry?

Respect is something we earn, but sometimes we feel like the deck is stacked against us. Many worship leaders wrestle with this concern.

Does This Really Matter?

This is one of the deepest and most heartfelt concerns I?ve heard and experienced. Is all this work and stress worth it? I need to know that what I?m doing matters for the kingdom. You can wrap up a lot of insecurities inside this one, because answering this question brings so much perspective.

Your top insecurities don?t line up with these? I?m not surprised. It would take a full-length book to delve into all of the concerns we face as worship leaders.

But, here?s what we all have in common, and I believe this with all my heart:

What we do matters. It is worth it. And your insecurities may represent your greatest opportunities for growth.[quote]What we do matters. It is worth it.[/quote]

Even if I were to write a book detailing all the insecurities we might face, and answered each of them with Biblical wisdom and sage advice, it wouldn?t make them go away.

Honestly, I can?t give you specific answers on how to deal with your insecurities. But, I can tell you not to ignore them.

[quote]Our insecurities can be debilitating, or they can be catalysts to profound growth.[/quote]We need to understand why we feel insecure and lean in. Don?t run away. Our insecurities can be debilitating, or they can be catalysts to profound growth.

As for my Christmas Concert circa 1993, I survived. No, I more than survived. I faced that terror head on and lived to tell about it. And I was never the same. Twenty years later, I?m not conducting orchestras or directing huge Christmas programs, but I am still following Christ?s calling on my life to be a lead worshiper and musician for His Kingdom, and that terrifying experience is part of my story. I wouldn?t trade it.

On a side note, there?s much wisdom in the counsel of friends and mentors. I?d love to dialogue with you and pray with you. Send me an email:

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