The Balance of Visibility and Invisibility in Worship Leading
Balance is a funny thing. The inherent assumption with balance is that there is a finite goal. That things will be in “balance” once everything is set perfectly, then we have to keep that balance.
While that’s true, balance in the real world is a dynamic issue. What I mean to say is that because things are constantly changing, shifting, and evolving, balance can be really trick.
Everyone likes to talk about the home/work balance, but anyone who’s struggled with this issue knows that it’s never a “set it & forget it” solution. Things change on a weekly, maybe even daily basis with your family. Our job is to take everything in consideration and to make decisions that help to keep that balance. Sometimes you have to learn more towards home than work, and vice versa, but the goal is always the same: balance.
When it comes to the worship leader, there’s lots of things we need to balance. The songs we sing, the way we treat our teams, how we plan our services, and I could go on. But today, I want to talk about an overarching issue that touches all Worship Leaders: finding the balance between being a visible & present leader and being an almost invisible leader who gives the Holy Spirit plenty of room to truly lead.
Before we talk practically about what this looks like, lets talk about problems vs. tensions.
At the Global Leadership Summit in 2010, Andy Stanley gave a talk that I’ll never forget about this topic (and I’ve got the notes in Evernote to prove it). He said that one of the most valuable things that leaders can do is differentiate between tensions that will always be managed and problems that need to be solved.
Problems are things like we have a hole in the roof, or someone on my team was rude to someone else, or my drummer didn’t show up. These problems demand solutions.
However, there are other things that are tensions that we need to manage. If we try to solve these tensions, it will only result in new tensions or even create a barrier to progress. To take steps forward, to grow, to see progress, we need to manage these tensions.
Managing a tensions means we understand the forces that cause the tension, understand how to make adjustments to that tension, and ultimately make decisions that help to keep that tension a healthy one. Visibility vs. Invisibility is absolutely a tension that needs to be managed than a problem to be solved.
If you are too visible and make it too much about what you’re doing, you’re betraying your calling as a Worship Leader, someone who points to Christ & his sacrifice rather than yourself. And if you are too invisible, you can lead gatherings that are disorganized, awkward, and don’t accomplish what you’ve set out to do.
Just to be clear here are some examples of visible worship leading:
- Speaking between songs.
- Singing songs & repeating as led.
- Your physical presence on stage.
And here are some examples of invisible worship leading:
- Knowing when NOT to talk between songs.
- Understanding the role of space in gatherings.
- Finding ways to allow the congregation to lead themselves.
This begs the question: How do we manage this tension between being visible and invisible as we lead worship? How do we find the right balance? Here’s three tips for how you can practically manage the tension between being a visible and invisible worship leader.
1. Have Accountability
One of the best ways to manage this tension is to have someone in it with you. Talk with another worship leader or staff member that you can trust, help them understand this tension like you do, and have them hold you accountable. Give them permission to speak up when they see you leaning too far one way or another.
This accountability gives you perspective that you normally wouldn’t have and will help you to see how you do things in a new light. They can as questions and help you better understand why you lead the way you do and find opportunities to grow in your leadership.
2. Find & Serve the Moments
When planning a gathering, do your best to have as much information about the entire time together as possible. What elements lead into other elements? How are we transitioning from this song to another? What is the message about that day? This information will help you to find moments in your gathering where you can lead, both visibly and invisibly.
Once you find these moments, do your best to seek the Lord about what He would have done during this time together. Once you have a clear vision for this moment in the gathering, do your best to serve it as best you can. Don’t just add extra stuff or superfluous things, only add what is needed and lead in the way that best supports and serves that moment.
3. Watch Game Tape
One of the most honest practices that will help you grow quickly is watching your game tape. Whether that’s a camera setup in the room somewhere or the livestream from the weekend, you should have a way to watch yourself leading. This kind of review can give you insights you would never catch from just thinking back on your morning.
This practice can be brutal, because the tape never lies. It will show you how repeating a chorus one or two many times created that awkward tension in the room, or how you needed to start a song a little earlier before it got weird. Either way, reviewing game tape will give you a window into how you actually lead in the moment and where you can do a better job of managing your visible and invisible worship leading.