In part two of this two-part series, Marvin Copaus introduces common conflicts choir directors and worship leaders face and how to deal with them. If you haven’t read part one, you can find it here.
There are some folks that really don’t mean to criticize, but they don’t understand the why behind what’s being done. I once served a church with both a vibrant traditional service and contemporary service. This church also had a decent attendance on Sunday nights (also a traditional service). At one point, the contemporary service became so large that leadership almost started a third Sunday morning service. Instead, the church decided to make the traditional morning service more of a blended/contemporary service and encouraged those who really liked traditional to fill the Sunday night crowd.
There was some pushback against the change, with some folks fearing that their style of music would be forgotten. Wisely, the pastor addressed the congregation with love. He told them that he understood that concern. He then presented to them the numbers of young people and young families coming to Christ, directly as a result of the contemporary service. He explained that the primary purpose of the Church is to reach the lost with the Gospel of Christ. He then asked them, “Is it worth changing our style on Sunday mornings in order to reach more people with the Gospel?”
It is vital that you explain the why to these folks. Not from a “We want to do things like so-and-so church” point of view, but from a “This will help us reach more people for the Kingdom” point of view. Keep it Scriptural. Help them see the eternal purpose in what the church is doing.
These folks may have something going in their own lives and may ending up projecting their own pain onto others. Since you are so visible as a leader, they may choose to lash out at you. In many cases, they criticize out of a subconscious need to make others feel pain. Many times, they feel that their personal needs are unmet by the church and feel the need to vent about it.
There are times to get others to help you with situations, and this may be one of them. Work with your pastor or one of your church’s decision counselors to spend time with these folks. Gentle questions may open the door to the deep hurt residing within. Sometimes, these folks just need someone to care about what they’re going through. (Follow good counseling protocol when dealing with someone who has deep-seated psychological issues.)
A critical spirit
This usually comes from a spiritual issue. There are people who are just so broken that they are not happy with anything or anyone. They may decide that they don’t like you, and they may decide they don’t like your family. These folks may have some long-standing bitterness toward something or someone. They may have had difficult things in their past that they don’t want to deal with. They may not even truly be believers.
It may be difficult to avoid these folks, because they may find ways to criticize in many sorts of ways and places. Your pastor has most likely dealt with them for years as well. Unfortunately, these folks are not afraid to lash out at you and don’t really care what you (or others) think about it.
It is vital that you (and your family) understand that our battle is not against flesh and blood. The enemy wants to discourage you in any way possible and loves to instill people with a critical spirit.
You may be tempted to call them out as sinful. Instead, I urge you to show a Christ-like attitude to them. Pray for strength as you do so!
A heart to help
Not everyone who criticizes you is against you. There are many folks who want to see you grow, not only as a minister, but as a follower of Christ. These folks may verbalize things that they see may need improvement. They are coming as tools of the Father to help you sharpen your skills as a leader, to edify you as part of the Body of Christ. They want to bless you!
Listen to them. Sometimes, God places these saints in your path in order to warn you against pride. They may be there to help you see a more effective way of working with the flock at your church. They may be brokenhearted for you after seeing others harshly criticize you.
Thank them and thank God for them.
In a perfect world, everyone would love us. The reality is that we are called to minister to broken, imperfect, and sometimes critical people. It helps to remember that we too are broken, imperfect, and sometimes critical and Jesus loves us all with compassion!
About the Author: Marvin Copaus is Sales Manager at Brentwood Benson. He has been with the company almost 20 years and in music ministry 40 years. Marvin and his wife Rita live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee with their two sons, along with several dogs and cats. Marvin currently serves churches in Middle Tennessee by doing international interim music ministry.