In 1 Timothy 3, Paul writes to young Timothy and provides qualifications for elders and deacons. Though we don’t find a similar list of qualifications for worship leaders in the Bible, we can exercise wisdom and discernment to think about important characteristics of a good worship leader.
We briefly wrote about this in our comprehensive worship ministry page, but here is a deeper look at top qualities to look for in a someone who leads worship. We’ve asked godly leaders and looked at Scripture to create seven characteristics that should mark a mature and godly characteristics of a good worship leader.
1 – Gift of Musical Talent
An effective worship leader should have some kind of musical talent.
We want to obviously lead with a pure heart, but skill is very important when it comes to leading the people in worship. We see the importance of skill and music when King David is appointing his singers and musicians in 1 Chronicles Chapter 25.
Having musical abilities allows the people we lead to focus more on the act of worship rather than the mistakes we are making. That is why developing our skills and being prepared as a musician and vocalist is so important.
When we present a musical moment that is poorly done the attention is completely on us, distracting the people we are leading. We can also mitigate distractions by learning how to lead worship through practical logistical structures. When we lead with our very best our confidence in focus glorifies God.
2 – Humility
We must lead with humility.
No matter how many gifts and talents we own, we must always remember that we are nothing without God. Our goal is not to wow the crowd with our gifts, but to facilitate moments where people encounter Jesus. It’s not by our power or might, but by His spirit that lives within us that God is glorified and lives are transformed.
3 – Fear of God
Having the fear of God is so crucial as a worship leader. Fearing God is not equal to having the spirit of fear, something that we experience when we are worried or afraid of something. Fear of the Lord is an awe-inspired reference that causes us to respond with honor and obedience.
When we walk in the fear of the Lord, we are moved to please God and not man in our role as leaders. It becomes our desire to live lives and lead in such a way that brings him honor.
4 – Biblical Knowledge and Faith
We carry a responsibility as worship leaders to have biblical knowledge. What we say and sing during our worship moments will influence the people around us. Sometimes we simply need to declare the very word of God in our worship which is what I did for my church. Out of that came a song from Acts chapter 2.
For far too long, the church has placed theological beliefs on the words of young worship leaders who do not know their word. Our churches are trusting that we as leaders are speaking with knowledge and understanding. We have to make it a priority to see that what we say and sing aligns with the word of God.
5 – Love for God
Love for God is foundational for a worship leader.
Many people would say that another word for the term worship is love, adoration, or passion. Worship leaders need to have an understanding of what it means to love God because it plays out into how we worship.
It is essentially impossible for us to worship God without love for Him. Love for God needs to be the driving force that leads us into a place of worship.
6 – Love for Church
Our love for the local churches worship leaders always seems to never be a main topic. We tend to put more emphasis on the music and the influence we carry, neglecting the importance of how we feel about pastoring and loving people.
This is a dangerous place to be in as a worship leader. If we are only there to fulfill our musical desires, we will feel a major void. Even as worship leaders we were designed for community. We have to lead with a love for our church. How we feel about people will dictate our decisions as a leader.
We have to have love for our church in order to have a healthy and successful ministry where we are leading.
7 – Teachable
No matter how much experience and knowledge we have as worship leaders, we have never arrived.
Both humility and teachability are characteristics of a good worship leader since those who lead or teach are more likely tempted with prideful motives. Being teachable will sometimes require us to admit when we are wrong, to listen to others, and to accept that we still have room for growth as a leader. Proverbs 13:18 says poverty and disgrace comes to him who ignores instruction, but whoever heeds for proof is honored.
This was not meant to be a comprehensive list of characteristics of a good worship leader. However, we hope this short list help you consider how to further grow to be an effective leader for your context of worship.