I have been the worship pastor at my church for a little over three years now with a predominantly male volunteer and staff base. Previous to being the worship pastor at Destiny, I served as an associate worship pastor, a college group worship leader, and before that…. a worship intern (stage vacuumer, coffee runner, and music organizer.) Worship ministry has been a huge part of my life for almost a decade. As I look back on my journey as a woman in worship ministry from intern to worship pastor, I have reflected on some of the struggles and lessons learned along the way:
- I don’t have anything to prove.
This was a HUGE struggle for me. When I moved away to college, I was struck for the first time how much assumption was placed into the idea that women were musically incompetent. As someone who had studied music her entire life, you can imagine my struggle when I walked into settings where my competence was questioned MERELY because of my gender; it was a grace-growing opportunity to learn how to navigate having a tough skin but maintaining a tender spirit, not lashing out in anger, but instead approaching the situation with a meek and gentle demeanor. I did not let people walk all over me, or speak down to me, but I also had to learn that I am accountable to Christ alone: I have nothing to prove. I am responsible to be a good steward of the gifts God has given me, lead in GRACE, and walk out a life of integrity, love, peace, and gentleness.
- Being a woman does not give me a ‘free pass’ to be ignorant: Theology OR Musically.
Women tend to be very emotionally-charged beings—we are very in-touch with who we are, and the world around us. We feel very deeply, and tend to base our ‘reality’ (or what we perceive to be the reality of God) on how we are feeling. Now don’t get me wrong… our feelings and emotional intimacy with the world around us is an amazing GIFT from God. However, if ‘feelings’ are not coupled with proper orthodoxy, we can easily be led astray. The Scriptures say to TEST all things (including our own emotions or even perceptions of what we believe to be the ‘voice’ of the Holy Spirit) and approve it by the Scriptures before accepting it as God’s Truth. (1 Thessalonians 5:21, 1 John 4:1). It is dangerous territory to NOT know the Word, and yet attempt to lead people into the Presence of God. If we do not KNOW God, or the Christian perspective of the world, how are we expected to lead people in the charge of pursuing right relationship with Him? Study the Word, and KNOW the God you serve.
As a female, you should know just as much (if not more) music theory than your male counterparts. Set yourself up for success: If you are in a place of leadership where people are going to be asking you questions such as, “What are the chords for this song, what are the dynamics, how do you want me to place my voice, etc,” you should know the answer. Every worship leader should have at the VERY LEAST a BASE knowledge of the number system, music theory, and how to play an instrument (example: 4 chords on the guitar, basic piano skills.) Don’t limit yourself just because you are a female. If someone asks you what key you would like a song in, or what your vocal range is… you should be able to answer those questions.
Sidebar: YouTube is an EXCELLENT resource for learning basic music skills. We live in an age where you can literally learn anything on the internet! If you want to be the head of music ministry, a worship leader, or worship pastor… you need to invest yourself in your craft.
- Do not isolate yourself from other women, and do not forget to INVEST in the Kingdom.
Being that most worship teams are predominantly male, it is so easy as a female worship leader (or worship pastor) to begin to just ‘spend time with the guys’ and forget to invest in the other females around you. This can happen for many reasons, the most common being jealousy. If you are the ONLY female on your team, you can begin to feel extremely territorial: You feel like you are so incredibly needed… one of a kind, even! This can lead to you shutting out opportunities for other women to become involved in worship ministry. Oftentimes, you will nit-pick other females’ abilities simply because you are insecure about your place in ministry. Continue to remind yourself of this not-so-fun fact: YOU ARE NOT INDISPENSABLE (nor SHOULD you be.) YOU are replaceable. It is unhealthy to create an environment that rises and falls solely around your presence.
As leaders, we need to be investing in other leaders… as FEMALES, we need to be investing, mentoring, and walking with OTHER females. We also need to remember to ALWAYS have people in our lives who have the permission to speak into us, hold us accountable, and challenge us. It would be my greatest downfall as a leader to have a ministry which was dependent solely on my own abilities: I should continuously be multiplying and developing those around me.
- It is less about ‘Being a Woman in Ministry’ and MORE about ‘Being a Christ-Follower’
We can spend so much time getting hung up on ‘what it means’ to be a woman in ministry that we forget our ultimate calling in life: To love God, love others, serve Him faithfully, and live a life WORHTY of the calling marked out for us. Spend time in the Word. Listen to the Holy Spirit. Surround yourself with people who hold you accountable. Be a good steward. KNOW who God created you to be…. and then be that person on PURPOSE.