“How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?”
It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.
Nehemiah sought support from his king to pursue the vision of rebuilding Jerusalem. A worship minister must receive the support of his senior pastor to pursue the missional vision. First, find ways to mention your vision in casual conversation, written memos, staff meetings, and face-to-face appointments. Charles Billingsley, worship leader with Jerry Falwell and David Jeremiah, refers to what he calls “the law of the seventh mentioning.” He believes we can plan on having to mention an idea at least seven times before it will appear on the radar of our pastor.
Attitude is crucial in the process of asking for endorsement and support from your pastor. This requires much prayer. Don’t rush into this meeting. Don’t let your excitement make you hurry. Set aside a week or two to pray. Ask God to shape your vision to match the vision of your pastor and vice versa. Your vision must be fused into your pastor’s vision for the church. Like a gardener who grafts a branch onto the main vine, you want your vision to enhance the pastor’s greater vision for the church.
When you have a sense of peace and confidence in the Lord, schedule a meeting with your pastor. Trust God to do his work between you. Begin by asking your pastor to share his overarching vision with you. We trust that the heart of every Christian executive is to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission. But he can express that in many different ways depending on his giftedness, personality, calling, and situation. He may say his vision is organizational unity, or financial security, or numerical growth. Continue to trust God’s Spirit no matter what your pastor expresses as a vision.
Your next question is crucial, asked in all sincerity: “How can I help you achieve this vision?” This discussion must be a sharing of hearts and not a sales presentation. Once you have heard their heart on this matter, then share the vision God has placed in your heart. If you are open and adaptable, God will shape your vision through the discussion with your pastor. You may leave the meeting with a different perspective on your vision and how to bring it to reality. But if you have soaked the meeting in prayer, you can trust that God had a hand in forging your vision through this meeting.
If the initial answer is “No,” don’t despair or give up. Ask permission to re-design and re-define your vision, then ask permission to come back and talk some more. If your pastor accepts your vision and pledges his support, schedule a follow-up appointment to present your written vision statement, smart goals, and action plans.
A prominent worship leader* who has successfully served his church for more than 20 years told me, “In pastoral relationships, there are no win-lose situations.” I asked him what he meant. “Any staff member is wrong to ever think he or she will win by making the pastor lose. If your pastor loses, you will lose. If you make sure the pastor wins, you will win, too,” he explained.
Here are three actions to make sure your pastor wins as you pursue your vision:
- Pastors need to trust you. They want to know who, what, when, where and why before trusting you. Using smart goals and action plans will help you earn trust.
- Pastors value unity. Your ability to keep people unified while successfully fulfilling the mission is a valuable trait. Your pastor and your church will value you for it.
- Pastors don’t like surprises. Make every attempt to keep your pastor informed by copying important documents and correspondence to him. Schedule regular updates in person. Share and celebrate victories and always communicate immediately if problems arise.
Worship Leaders – Is change bearing down on you? Don’t let it make you run and hide! Lead your worship ministry through it and you will be leading your church… and maybe even your Pastor as well. — Mark Powers
* Steve Phillips, Worship Pastor, First Baptist Columbia SC