Have We Become Distracted Leaders?

I do a lot of supply preaching so it’s always interesting observing leadership habits in congregations. Of course most people probably don’t know I’m doing this, but I am, especially as one outside the system.

One Sunday, just five minutes before worship, I sought out the worship assistant to touch bases and to be sure I knew who was doing what. A member saw me looking confused so he asked me if I needed anything. I told him that I was looking for the worship assistant. He directed me to a man who was in an agitated conversation with several others, hurriedly conducting council business prior to the service.

When he saw me he said he’d make sure he was up front prior to communion and that I should go in to the service. “See you up front,” he said.

So, I did, not exactly sure what we were doing. But I’ve been leading worship for thirty years and can go with the flow. I just pay attention.

Sitting in the front pew during the prelude I noticed the candles were not lit. Not the end of the world even though I find candles to be a concrete reminder of Jesus, the light of the world and of the presence of the Holy Spirit. I later discovered the worship assistant who was busy in the agitated pre-worship business conversation was supposed to light the candles.

This got me thinking about the distractions we create prior to worship, especially if we are in leadership positions. Do we enter calm, humble, and intent on listening to God’s message to us through others, the sermon, and the entire service each Sunday, or do we rush in distracted by business and the other details of life? Do we enter waiting to hear what we want to hear from God or do we enter receptive and open to God’s often surprising message to us—even if it’s one we might not want to hear.

Slowing down and making space for God in our leadership is one of the most important things we can do.  In fact, it creates good soil for spiritual growth for anyone entering worship.  Not doing so may find us trying to nurture the seedling of our faith life amid the rockiness of life with roots that may turn shallow.