How To Deal With Criticism As A Worship Leader

by Kristen Gilles

in Worship Leading

I’ve been serving the church as a worship leader since I joined my first worship team as a 12 year old keyboardist under the oversight of my parents, the worship pastors at the time.  I benefited from their direct leadership for the first 10 years of my service, and am thankful to have had the privilege of being shepherded by them at home and at church.  What they taught me in word and deed about serving the Lord with gladness and submission has helped me to grow as a believer and worship leader.

My parents taught me to care most about the honor of the Lord and to treasure His Word above all else.  They showed me how to be teachable and open to criticism and correction from those in authority over them, and from those they were serving in the congregation.  There was rarely a worship service they led that was not followed with some criticism, complaint, or suggestion from someone in the congregation.  I saw them wrestle with these things, as they sought the Lord to discern and do what was right.  They allowed the Lord to humble them as they submitted to His correction and direction. As a result, their ministry to the Lord and His church became fruitful.  They gained wisdom and respect as they grew up under the discipline of the Lord.

As a whippersnapper worship leader, I also needed lots of teaching, correcting, and admonishing.  I didn’t like it. I wanted to be mature and right already, without any correcting or changing.  I observed mature believers all around me (including my parents) and could easily mimic them.

What I really needed though (and on more than one occasion) was the loving rebuke of a righteous person.  I didn’t realize at the time that the constructive criticism I was receiving from my parents and other leaders was a kindness to me.

“Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is soothing medicine. Don’t let me refuse it.” Psalm 141:5

I didn’t like to be wrong about anything, so I didn’t like to be criticized about anything.  I was overly sensitive to all criticism (in every realm of my life) and struggled to hear and receive rebukes as kind, constructive and helpful.

  • I needed to learn that worshiping God was not all about me. 
  • I needed to know that hearing myself in my monitor or playing a piano solo was not the most important thing. 
  • I needed my instrumental and vocal techniques to be critiqued.  (I thought more highly of my skills than I should have!) 
  • I needed my flaming pride to be exposed and extinguished through constructive criticism. 

God’s Word showed me that the wisdom and maturity and respect I wanted came after humbly accepting correction and listening to advice.  My stubborn refusal to accept criticism was only leading to my destruction, disgrace and poverty.

Worship leaders, we are wise to submit to the discipline of the Lord, to listen to His advice and accept His instruction.  He chastens those He loves.  God, in His great mercy and grace, searches His people’s hearts and points out anything that is offensive to Him.  He is faithful to correct and lead His children along the path of everlasting life.  He is able to save us from ourselves and keep our hearts aflame with passion for His honor and fame.

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future.” Proverbs 19:20

“Only a fool despises a parent’s discipline; whoever learns from correction is wise.” Proverbs 15:5

“If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored.”  Proverbs 13:18

“Whoever stubbornly refuses to accept criticism will suddenly be destroyed beyond recovery.” Proverbs 29:1

“If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. If you reject discipline, you only harm yourself; but if you listen to correction, you grow in understanding. Fear of the Lord teaches wisdom; humility precedes honor.” – Proverbs 15:31-33

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