Alex was what some would call free-spirited. He was laid back, carefree, and always willing to roll with the punches. He was rarely on time and was incredibly absentminded. If he didn’t completely forget a commitment, he’d get to it at the last minute, causing stress for those around him.

Matt was different. He was so far on the opposite end of the spectrum that he might be described as uptight. He was always early, always prepared, and very much on the ball with commitments, but at the end of the day, he was so methodical and meticulous that change was difficult for him.  

Do you relate more with Alex? Or Matt?

Although I generally try to stay away from stereotyping, I have primarily seen these two extremes in worship leaders. Specifically, I want to talk about what I’ve seen when it comes to establishing community on worship teams with these different styles.

On one end of the spectrum (Alex), you have a team whose pursuit of community is so passive and laid back that there seems to be no cohesive goal or purpose.

On the other end of the spectrum (Matt), you find a team whose attempt at community is so scheduled and inflexible that it feels forced and rigid.

Developing community is not a perfect science. I am purposely painting two exaggerated ends of a spectrum from my personal observations as a worship leader. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle. I believe that where a team falls on this spectrum depends mostly on the personality of the worship leader.

Don't try and be someone you’re not. Any personality type can lead effectively by learning to encourage diligence, excellence, and respect, while still maintaining an atmosphere of openness, fun, and mutual affection. Click To Tweet

The Laid-Back, Easy-Going, and Sometimes “Slacking” Worship Leader

This type of leader tends to be naturally more light-hearted and open. One very tangible benefit of this is the ability to easily relate to others. As with any leadership style, the attitude and behavior of the leader is reflected in the team. With this particular leadership dynamic, many people will feel free to share openly.

The drawback is when the team struggles to shift gears to focus on the task at hand.  This leadership style can lead to extended socializing, joking around, and people having “so much fun” that little is actually accomplished.

The Focused, No-Nonsense, and Sometimes “Uptight” Worship Leader

This leader seems to get everything accomplished with ease, except for setting an atmosphere of openness and connection for the team. This more reserved and uptight personality may prevent the team from relaxing, opening up, and connecting on a heart level. The leader may ask team members questions and be a great listener, but failing to freely share about his own life makes true community a challenge.

This type of leader tends to prioritize the program over the people. It can be easy to get so focused on the details of a worship set or Bible study that it becomes all about tending to the task at hand. Because they are naturally more goal-oriented, these leaders need to make a conscious effort to open up and share from their hearts.

As the worship leader, you are the culture-setter on your team. Take the initiative to establish the kind of environment that you want for the team. Click To Tweet

Where do you fall on the spectrum?

There is nothing wrong with having fun as long as you are getting things accomplished, just like there is nothing wrong with focusing on the work at hand as long as you don’t neglect engaging your team at the heart level. Again, you want to shoot to fall somewhere in the middle.

I used to think that in order to develop strong community on my team, I had to host a weekly potluck and aim to be the center of attention all the time. As one with a more introverted personality type, it felt like I would never be able to be that kind of leader. I am not a “life of the party” kind of guy. However, I have learned to open up for the sake of my team, and even plan social events and outings. My wife now calls me a “trained extrovert.” Can anyone relate?

At the end of the day, it’s not about trying to be someone you’re not. Any personality type can lead effectively by learning to encourage diligence, excellence, and respect, while still maintaining an atmosphere of openness, fun, and mutual affection. Godly community flourishes in the balance between the two extremes.

As the worship leader, make a point of being the culture-setter on your team. Take the initiative to establish the environment that you want for the team. Don’t wait for the talkative, extroverted person to establish that culture–you set the tone. You have the power to lead by example and set a standard of honor and respect where everyone feels safe and comfortable to open up and share.

Where do you fall as a leader? I would love to hear how you push yourself beyond your comfort zone for the sake of your team. Leave a comment below.

Huge thanks to my friend Jordan Vanderplate for letting me use this photo of Mt Baker National Forest, WA. Check out more of his work here.


I’m Justin Rizzo. I enable worship leaders who feel isolated, overworked, and unfocused to experience peace, confidence and create thriving worship communities.









2 comments

  1. Aubrey Breedlove

    This.

    “Don’t wait for the talkative, extroverted person to establish that culture–you set the tone. You have the power to lead by example and set a standard of honor and respect where everyone feels safe and comfortable to open up and share.”

    I am so encouraged to do that!

    Personally, being a peace-loving introvert and also someone who enjoys listening to other people talk, I struggle most with taking initiative and directing my team. I especially do not like being the center of attention in social situations. So seeing the two extremes laid out was super helpful for me, and I’ll admit I had a few “cringe” moments seeing myself in each role and detecting where I can improve as a leader. I have found that I like leaders who step in, reign in the conversations that are dragging on and get to the heart of why we have all gathered. I want to be that kind of leader and I feel like the Lord is helping me step by step become the leader I want to be for those around me.

    So helpful, Justin. Thank you.

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