Complaining vs Feedback

What about people who have constructive, helpful insight into how you can do you job better? Are you listening to these people? As worship leaders are we so burnt out on complaints that we’ve closed our ears to an objective word that could help us succeed?

What if I want to share my positive, constructive feedback with my worship pastor? How will she know I really care and I’m not just complaining?

Three Factors That Help Discern Between Feedback and Complaints

The Openness Factor: Are you sharing your feedback directly with the worship leader or are you complaining behind their back? This one is simple, if you believe what you have to say is relevant and helpful then share it directly with the person who needs to hear it. If you gossip behind their back then you are…well… gossiping behind their back.

“I’ve tried going to them before and they didn’t listen” and “They are so unapproachable.” are not valid excuses here. If you can’t share it directly then keep quiet about it. If it’s not important enough to share with them directly then it’s not important enough to be shared.

The Relationship Factor: Is your worship leader within your sphere of influence? In other words, have you invested in a getting to know them and loving on them. If you have, then they will be more likely to respect your critique and act on it instead of become defensive.

Sending encouragement emails, cooking dinner and giving cards are all nice things people in my church have done for me. I listen to these people more.

If you’ve made no effort to get to know your worship leader then they are probably not going to place a high value on your opinion. On the other hand if you serve on the worship team or make it a point to be helpful to the worship leader then they will probably be more willing to listen and to act on what you’ve shared.

The Solicit Factor: Has the worship leader solicited your advice? If not then it’s probably not the best time to share what you think. Don’t assume just because the worship leader isn’t doing what you want them to do that they don’t have anyone speaking into their life. Most smart guys I know have a several trusted people who they rely on to give them objective feedback.

On the other hand if the worship pastor is having a church-wide event where they are specifically asking for feedback then you should probably go to that event and share what you think. There is one tomorrow night at Chase Valley Church.

Getting Your Worship Leader to Listen

If you really want your words to be heard here are five tips to get them to listen more:

1. Don’t Gossip. If you talk behind a person’s back you lose major credibility. People don’t listen to gossips, but if you keep your thoughts to yourself and share them appropriately then your reputation will make you more influential.

2. Go directly to your worship leader. Call them, email them, write a note or set up a time to meet. Most people will at least listen to you if you say, “Can I share something with you? It could be potentially hurtful and I don’t want you to feel you need to be defensive about it. I want you to know because I care about you being successful.” Who’s going to say, “no” to that? Most people will listen.

3. Start/build a relationship. Do things that are encouraging. If you make emotional and spiritual deposits now you’ll be more likely to have the social funds to make a withdrawal later.

4. Wait for them to ask you. If you wait until you get asked then your words will have 10 times the impact. People ask when they are ready to listen. Choosing the right moment to communicate will determine how effective that communication is.

If you share unsolicited advice at a time when someone’s had a bad day or after they’ve already received 30 other complaints then odds are they won’t listen to you no matter how important your feedback is. However when someone asks it’s an indicator that their heart is in the right place – this is the optimal moment when your words will have the largest impact.

5. Trust you’ve been heard. Worship Leaders and church workers in general get tons of advice all the time. Often times the advice is conflicting. Simply because they didn’t do what you think they should doesn’t mean they didn’t listen to and completely hear what you had to say. Insisting that your advice always be acted upon is a surefire way to be not listened to the in the future. Instead, just trust that you’ve been heard. They will talk to God and do the right thing.

8 Responses to “Complaining vs Feedback”

  1. 1 janowen July 16, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Here’s a couple of more ideas:

    1) Have you ever spoken positively to your worship leader? If not then they probably don’t want the only communication you ever have with them to be negative. There are a few people in my life that I literally cringe when they call, email or come up to me. They have programmed me that all they will say to me is negative. I open their emails with trepidation and a anxious heart. Look for the good, compliment, please let them know how their ministry has made a positive impact on your life. They they might feel less defensive. If you only say negative things or always have a gripe my guess is they just want to get away from you quickly!

    2) Do not do these four things if you are sincere:
    a. go to their superior without going to them. Now you’ve created a really big deal and you have humiliated them to boot. I hate “end runs” and believe me, when that happens, no one is really open minded to what you might have to say. They are hurt and angry. (I do NOT allow this on my own team, btw. It’s a core value!)

    b. Do not email or text complaints. As Billy said, if it’s worth saying it’s worth saying in a loving and biblical manner. And emailing something negative is really asking for trouble and misunderstanding. It’s hard to feel the love in an email. I’ve actually never had anyone text me a complaint but if you are so tempted, let me tell you its a temptation you should resist. Don’t take the easy way. (this is also a new policy I am implementing after sabbatical….calls or face to face……nothing else)

    c. Do not send in a complaint anonymously. Be an adult about it. I never listen to anonymous complaints – I do one thing with them – straight to the garbage. On the other hand, if you sit down with me and I think you care about me as a person and respect the work I do, I can listen.

    d. do not assume the worst and jump to the worst conclusion. Assume that they are working hard, being diligent and STUDYING their craft. So believe the best. The grace you extend may come back at you one day.

    Observations from 22 years involved in leading worship…..or maybe just being a minister…..or a mom. I think it applies across the board. Maybe I should send this to my kids too!

  2. 2 janowen July 16, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    sorry, i wrote a whole blog entry!

  3. 3 Mark July 16, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Another home run, Billy. Great.

  4. 4 Bill Rayborn July 16, 2008 at 5:47 pm


    Bill Rayborn here.

    Just wondering if you have seen my new on-line magazine for worship leaders? It’s FREE and I hope you will look around.
    You will want to register since there are areas you can only access if you are registered but there is no charge.

    Just go to

  5. 5 David Guion July 17, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Hi Billy,

    Great post and discussion.

    My 2 cents:

    My Mom used to say, “Whenever you want to encourage someone, write it down and give the note or card to them. Whenever you want to confront someone, do so in person with humility and face to face.”

    There have been times that I have not followed her advise and, almost always, I have regretted that I didn’t heed her counsel.

    Thanks again, Billy.


    David Guion
    Encouraging the daily praise and worship of Jesus Christ because worship is a daily lifestyle… not just a weekly event!

  6. 6 Dianne July 17, 2008 at 12:26 pm


    I love your blog! “Write” On!

  7. 7 Chase July 18, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    This is really good stuff. I linked in from Mark’s Warning Knock.

    It makes sense to me from the perspective of a worship team member, but it also convicts me as someone apt to criticize other areas of ministry (teaching, preaching, etc.).

  8. 8 chelan July 20, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    thanks for all the tips. as a w-team member & hopefully leader one day, i’m takin’ in all i can.
    great blog you have!!!

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