It doesn’t matter if you head up the church a/v ministry or if you are a solo-flyer, you are seen as the person "IN CHARGE." Doubt it? Screw up during a church service and you’ll hear about it. If you head up a team and a member has a bad day behind the mixer, you’ll hear about that as well. If you are "IN CHARGE" then you are seen as a leader.
Holding such a position of leadership is a wonderful blessing but one that carries a lot of weight. Being a leader means being respected. It means carrying a heavy load. It means leading people. It means God-inspired leadership. It means now all eyes are on YOU. How you behave will determine your success as a leader.
There are several areas in which you, as a leader, can fail. If you watch for these areas, you will make a better leader.
The first is right-ism.
"I’m a leader, therefore whatever I say is right!" That’s extreme and that’s not good. Most of us would never say that…but we think it. The more we think it, the less we hear and ultimately we fail at being the best leader possible. As leaders, we have to be open to the possibility that we are wrong or that other ideas exist which can be equal or better than the ones we have.
What better example than the brutal one that I experienced. The topic of debate with the worship leader was stopping a song to fix a problem. The debate became so heated that the more we argued, we both failed in that we let our emotions take over (I tend to get smug) and we both never stopped to think of alternative ideas to what we had both presented. After the debate ended with an agreement that we both disagreed with the other, I was talking with another worship team member. She brought up a practical solution to the issue we were discussing that I could not BELIEVE I hadn’t considered.
Avoid right-ism by doing just a few things. First, never make decisions based on emotion. Did you know the more we argue a point, the more we believe we are right? Take a break, go for a walk, and tell the person “hey, let’s walk down and get a drink of water then let’s try this again." In those few minutes of walking time, your emotions will ebb and you might even get some new ideas.
Second, be willing to consider other options. The sound guy or pastor might have spent their drive to church thinking about an idea to present to you. Hear their case. If it has problems, don’t dismiss it. Explain the problems. You might even be able to work through the problems and their "bad idea" might turn into a "great idea."
Third, when you do have to make a firm statement, explain your reasoning. Reasons can be technical…"we can’t do that because we don’t have a MIDI cable converter." Organizational…"it’s too much for the worship team to do before the pastor walks up." Experiential…"we’ve tried that before but it doesn’t work well because…" And finally, what I like to call corporate…"we just don’t do it that way."
The second is self-deception
Self-deception usually takes someone else to point out this problem area. In the more horrific circumstances, we are corrected publicly by someone "in the know."
Let’s say you’ve been working sound at your church for 5 years. You know how to EQ the system so the house mix sounds great. You get the occasional complaint from people that the sound is too loud or too soft in certain areas. You figure it’s just that person and insist nothing is wrong with the sound. You think you know all there is to know about running a sound system and room acoustics, despite the fact you’ve never had any formal training.
Then one Sunday morning during the worship team’s practice time, in walks your friend Bob and one of his friends, Steve, whom you have never met. You notice Steve is walking all over the sanctuary during the practice time. After the service, Bob walks up and introduces Steve as the FOH (front of house) engineer for (insert some fancy church that you know has an amazing sound). Steve says "I’ve noticed you have some hot spots and cold spots in the sanctuary. Do you have plans to fix it?" You respond with "Our church is fine and while we do get complaints from time to time, it’s ok. If they are there ‘I’ve Never Noticed Them‘ [enter foreboding music]."
Get ready for it…Steve says "Do those people sit [points to areas] there and there?" You reply "yes." Gulp. Steve then explains about standing waves and critical distance. You are non-plussed. He then explains how using some soundproofing audio panels can fix the problem. The pastor, who has been listening in, then looks right at you and walks away. Gulp.
Avoid self-deception by staying educated on sound systems and how sound works. Take a class, attend a seminar! You’ve been running sound for 10 years at your church. That’s great. You’ve got a lot of experience. But if someone with a degree in audio engineering who works FOH for a living walked in the door, do you really think you would know more than they know?
The third is complacency
You’ve been running sound for so long; you can do it in your sleep. Great.
WARNING: SOME READERS MIGHT FIND THE FOLLOWING OBJECTIONABLE. READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.
I don’t care how long you’ve been sitting in your parapet that you call a sound booth! You can do better! Great, the service went off without a single problem! But how did it sound? It sounded great? Are you sure? Did you even touch the EQ settings? More than once? Have you ever asked people how it sounded? Different people? And what about your band of brothers that you call the sound team? When was the last time you held a training session? Well? When was the last time you checked all the cables? Do you have any broken stuff that needs fixed?
This rant has been brought to you by the American Dairy Association. Just kidding. Hey, I fall into being complacent myself. It’s easy to do. What starts out as having one XLR cable that needs fixed turns into 2 XLR cables, a mic stand, and a broken lapel mic in the back of your car. It’s just so easy to let things coast, enjoy time at a plateau, ride easy for a while.
Bottom line, stay on top of everything, from personal improvement to team leadership. Be a leader.
The final is moral failure
There are so many areas of moral failure in which a person can fall, it would be impossible to list them all.
A friend of mine was followed around for a few years as part of a film documentary. When the final film was shown to him and about 30 others at a huge event, my friend found himself cringing and twitching at some of what he was seeing. He was seeing himself say things, particularly one joke, that he found embarrassing. So he started asking himself a question "would I want what I’m about to do or say to be broadcast over the internet or on the television?"
Now go be the best leader you can be!