The One Key Trait A Worship Leader Needs For Lifelong Success: 

Do YOU Have It?

In the dynamic world of worship leading, where creativity meets devotion, one trait stands out as the linchpin to your success. If you do not cultivate this trait, you will not last long as a worship leader. Your influence will flicker like a dim candle struggling to stay lit in the face of a gentle breeze.

This trait boils down to a mindset we must adopt as worship leaders. To illustrate, let me tell you a story.

The Tale of Two Worship Leaders…

Two worship leaders encounter a song that exceeds their vocal ability. The first murmurs, “I can't hit those notes," while the other announces in a determined tone, "I'll practice, learn, and nail it!"

These same two worship leaders have an off week and drop the ball on delivering what their team needs to successfully pull off a distraction-free worship environment on Sunday morning. The chord charts are hopelessly wrong, they are not personally prepared, and the flow of the song set is not cohesive. The first worship leader defensively justifies, “If we had better musicians, they would not need the charts!” Continuing their rant, the first worship leader adds, “If I didn’t have to worry about other people pulling their weight, I would’ve been more prepared.” And finally, for the cherry on top, the first worship leader shifts blame better than Adam & Eve in the garden by announcing, “The pastor you gave me Lord; if only he would prepare further out on his sermons, then I could be more intentional on my song set planning.” 

Sounds gross, right? Yep. In redemptive fashion, the second worship leader admits, “I failed to check the charts, I am not very personally prepared, and I did not think through the flow of the songs. This will not happen again. How can I do better next week?” That simple question invites feedback, and reveals that the second worship leader gets it.

They have the one vital trait required for longterm success, despite the question being asked in the midst of an epic failure.

The first worship leader is stuck in this pattern of thinking, "I am who I am, and that is that,” while the second worship leader chooses a better path. The second worship leader thinks, "I need to receive critical feedback, own my shortcomings, accept responsibility for my actions, and take action on what I need to change to ensure a different outcome!

Thinking of a situation in your own worship-leading journey right now? Feeling defensive? Take a breath. It’s ok, I've been there.

What if I told you there is a key to breaking free?

It's the cultivation of a growth mindset. This practically looks like adopting the belief that transformation is possible through embracing feedback, learning from mistakes, and applying your heart and mind to getting a better outcome the next go around. Yes, this takes resilience, but if we practice the biblical virtue of humility, never stop learning, and then take actionable steps toward growth, there is no way that we can possibly remain stuck in a rut of our present shortcomings.

Unlike a fixed mindset that shackles progress, a growth mindset propels worship leaders into realms of continuous improvement and profound influence. To understand further, consider the definition of these opposing mindsets. 

Understanding the Mindset Divide

Fixed Mindset:

A fixed mindset views talents and abilities as inherent and unchangeable. Worship leaders with a fixed mindset might stick to what they know, fearing challenges and potentially avoiding new approaches for fear of failure.

Growth Mindset:

On the other hand, a growth mindset sees abilities as developable through dedication and hard work. Worship leaders embracing a growth mindset eagerly tackle challenges, learn from criticism, and persist in setbacks.

Before we dismiss this as worldly philosophy or mumbo jumbo, let’s examine how this closely aligns with the biblical virtue of humility. 

The Lifelong Journey

For worship leaders, the journey to becoming a lifelong learner is paramount. Constantly evolving in musical skill, spiritual understanding, and effective leadership is essential. This mirrors the biblical virtue of humility, where one recognizes that growth is a lifelong process.

I firmly believe that you cannot grow and learn without cultivating humility. Humility is at the heart of the Christian journey. Embracing a growth mindset aligns with this virtue. It acknowledges that there is always room to grow and improve. The Bible is rich with examples of individuals who humbly embraced their journey of learning and transformation. One such example is the apostle Paul.

Contemplate this Scripture in which Paul confesses: 

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.” - Philippians 3:13-15 ESV

Paul is talking about the goal of knowing Jesus Christ intimately. Even through suffering and trial, we can cultivate an eternal perspective of the heavenly prize that awaits those who have trusted in Jesus. Something significant to point out is that Paul makes this confession on the heels of talking about an exemplary example of humility, Jesus. We can’t lose sight of the fact that Philippians 2 is essentially a hymn of praise calling attention to the humility of Jesus. Don’t miss the connection. A growth mindset is tied to cultivating the virtue of humility. If we think we have arrived, we will not say with Paul, “I do not consider that I have made it my own, but I press on toward the goal.” 

How can we embrace a growth mindset in humility? Here are 3 tangible ways to do this:

1. Welcome Challenge:

Worship leaders with a growth mindset actively seek challenges, knowing that overcoming them leads to personal and professional development. This mirrors the biblical narrative, riddled with accounts of people who faced real struggles and did not give up. They made it through by walking humbly with their God.

2. Learn from Criticism:

Constructive criticism becomes a change agent for a worship leader with a growth mindset. Understanding that feedback is an opportunity for refinement aligns with the biblical teaching of receiving correction with grace.

3. Cultivate a Teachable Spirit:

Being a lifelong learner means fostering a teachable spirit. This attribute is closely connected to the biblical call to remain open to wisdom and guidance. The willingness to be molded and refined is a testament to humility.

In Conclusion

As we aspire to influence our congregations, embrace a growth mindset. It is the catalyst for impactful leadership. So, let’s welcome challenge, learn from criticism, and cultivate a teachable spirit. This path aligns closely with the biblical virtue of humility. When we walk in a posture of humility, we invite grace, as James reminds us, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6).

As we pursue excellence in worship leadership, may we never fall into the trap of having a fixed mindset. Journey down the path of humility, invite constructive feedback, and will grow as a leader. And worship leaders who grow as leaders are sure to see increasing levels of influence in the lives of those they lead, love, and serve.

Do you agree or disagree? Let's engage together on this in the comments below.

Don't forget to grab the free guide I have prepared for you. It will teach you 6 practices you can implement right away to help you lead with a greater degree of confidence this week.

If you are interested in learning more about the history of contemporary worship, and in particular the story of the Anaheim Vineyard, I would highly recommend reading this book, Worshiping with the Anaheim Vineyard: The Emergence of Contemporary Worship.