Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Competition…is there a place for it on my team?

Oh yes…competition. I love the topic and I love to see people squirm when we talk about it in the context of ministry. So squirm away friends, we’re going to dance inside the fire a little bit here.

My current worship team has been nearly 2 deep on every instrument/vox for the past 2 years. Same as with our sound and media teams. Since we have moved to this system, it has been interesting to watch the dynamics that have played out among our very artsy (sometimes emotional) worship team constituents. As with any team, you have some very strong players and some that are still developing…both are necessary and each plays a significant role on our team. Naturally, some of these “differences” will begin to be noticeable…mainly from the perspective that I will use my strongest players to the tip top of their capabilities. I won’t back down from that…it’s the only way our ministry is going to grow. Not to mention, when you lead a volunteer based music program, you start realizing that quality musicians attract other quality musicians. A great musician will play for free if they find it to be an enjoyable and excellent atmosphere. I am also convinced that no one is going to be on my team forever, so I have to keep a system in place that feeds itself…constantly raising up new people.

Now then…since there are times when some musicians serve functions on our team that others don’t, that usually leads to a little competition. No one likes to call it that, but it’s blaringly obvious to me. What I am noticing is that our team is better for the competition. The strong players get stronger and the weaker ones rise up as well. Obviously, each team member has to constantly keep their motives in check, but I really believe everyone on the team comes to Sunday morning with a heart to see people encounter God. They know that that is the end goal…however, when it comes to bettering themselves as musicians, there is a mixed bag of motives that is inevitable.

I don’t think there is any scriptural reference on competition…though I know there’s plenty on coveting. My hope is that our team members will avoid coveting, but hopefully be spurred on by the dedication shown by other team members. Coveting someone’s gifting will only lead to dark places, but recognizing that they have spent time crafting their gift can encourage us to craft our gifting. There is work involved in that…even incredibly gifted people have to work to better themselves.

In the end, hopefully each person is becoming more skillful at their role…that will in turn take the level of the organization up a notch…and hopefully leading to great places of worship on a regular basis!

I think I could go on for a part 2 of this discussion, but we’ll stop there for now…


  1. ...and the can of worms is opened! Good stuff. Can I "compete" without coveting? Is it possible to remove the element of a "prize" from competition? What is that prize in the context of worship? Can we "compete" for the betterment of the team? Maybe there's a sweet spot in spurring one another on that stops just short of competing. Where encouragement runs really hot, but doesn't covet another's progress.

  2. Anonymous9:33 PM

    Competition huh?
    i see what you are saying about it being good in some instances because it has caused the weaker to step up. But i think it rears its ugly head when pride is the issue. The bad competition is the "i'm better, it should be me" mindset. and sometimes the "I really thought I was better, so whats the deal?" mindset. Thats what we all have to keep a check on, and remember what the heck we are doing in the first place...worshipping the living God...not ourselves.

  3. Oh man, this is good. I wish more worship leaders had the guts to talk about this because it's there. We live in a culture where talent is constantly compared to other talent, judged, and then given the big prize. I had a really hard time after four years of high school contests -- getting rid of that competitive edge. I wanted to be the best, period. I still definitely struggle with that inner attitude to this day.

    But I think it all starts with those thoughts. Like when I hear a great vocalist, I need to think, "Wow, God has really gifted that person and He gets the credit. That person is a brother or sister and we can lift up Christ's name together."

  4. I am actually a little hurt because Tim has never asked me to be a part of the worship team...and that's all I really have to say about that!