An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.
-Newton’s First Law of Motion
People follow people with passion. What they don’t follow is title. Title is something drummed up to tier pay raises. No, real leadership is having someone follow you because they want what you have. In outward appearance this tends to look like energy or passion. Can you still lead people effectively without energy? Yeah, but you have to make it up in other, more complex and less apparent ways. The focus of this article is for those who want to lead with both passion and energy.
You have to choose to be energetic on stage. The law that says an object in motion stays in motion assumes that the object was put into motion in the first place. Displaying passion is as deliberate and needs as much practice as memorizing the chord structure to a song. It’s okay to rehearse being energetic. In fact, it’s possibly what separates good from great!
If you’re reading this and you’re thinking “I am already energetic. It’s my personality.” That’s awesome! This article isn’t for you. This is for those introverted leaders who need to draw their inward passion outward. So what does energy look like for the worship leader? Here are a few ways to find it.
Recommendation One: Stage gestures have to be over the top. For introverted leaders: what feels big isn’t. Even in the age of HD screens our facial expressions and hand gestures need to be more dynamic than we may be making them. People respond to movement that is appropriate for the setting it is in. More than likely you need to move more on stage. You may need to have your hands swing more fluidly, perhaps less robotic or even nervous looking. Facial expressions need to match the intensity of the band. All in all: more. More than you are currently doing until someone recommends you back it off. I am betting you’ve never been asked to calm it down before.
Recommendation Two: Know your congregation’s perfect participation level in worship. You should always be a step ahead of them. I believe that most people will respond to what a leader is asking them to do, but they won’t go beyond that. What I mean is that you cannot expect the congregation to raise their hands if you won’t. Maybe better yet, you cannot expect the congregation to step out of their comfort zone if you won’t step out of yours.
There seems to be four levels of worship engagement in an American worship setting. The unresponsive church member. The normal member responding to you (and those around them). Then you as the leader who may be demonstrably a step ahead of most. Last there is the far out, quite-unique-individual who has gone further outwardly than anyone else in the room. There’s no time to analyze this person. God loves them and so do we. The key here is that you are at level three. You are intentional to be a step ahead of those your leading.
Recommendation Three: Be confident in the position that you have. Your pastor and church leadership has put you in your role, embrace it. The old adage: act like you’ve been there before works for worship leaders as much as it does for major league baseball players who have just hit their first home run. Believe in your heart that you’re doing what you were made to do and then push yourself to display that heart. Watch video of yourself. Make adjustments. Make a six month plan of how you can get better at displaying energy on stage. I say it again: watch video of yourself. We look in the mirror in the mornings to comb our hair because the reflection is exact and authentic. Using video helps you see your authentic self. You then make adjustments then reevaluate. This builds confidence.
Having energy on stage is critical to your success as a worship leader. If you struggle make a plan of attack and then implement that plan. Find someone who is doing well and study them. You can’t do the same things you’ve always done and expect different outcomes. Grow. It’s fun (eventually)…
How do you lead with energy? Does your congregation respond as you amp up? How could you use some of the recommendations above to push yourself to grow? Are there other ways you use to display your heart on stage? I would love to hear! Comment or private message…