I’ve been attending church since I can remember. My first memories of church leadership came from my parents. When I was in kindergarten, my mom started a Wednesday night kid’s group at the Baptist Church we attended. A couple of years later, my folks decided to switch churches and started attending the Pentecostal Church on the other side of town. Time passed and my dad worked the sound booth and my mom took on leading a large children’s church program.

It was the 70s and church music was in transition; the church was merging hymns with choruses. Guitars and drums were being added to church platforms, and I was given the chance to sing solos regularly, in front of several hundred people, beginning at the age of nine. My musical abilities continued to grow with several different worship pastors volunteering to give me vocal lessons. The more opportunities I got within the church to sing, the more passionate I became about singing songs of praise to God. Music was my heart and soul. I think back and I’m amazed at the opportunities leaders gave me. They knew if they got me involved, I’d be connected. They found my passion and plugged me in in that area.

Since high school, my husband and I have been involved in our churches in multiple ways.  He’s coached church softball and run the soundboard. I’ve been a camp counselor, sang on worship teams, and worked in the youth church. This is where we found a supportive group of friends when we were first married and were young parents. Again, the church leadership saw our strengths and passions and got us involved in areas that we’d enjoy, and we grew even more entwined through the friendships we made. They were helping us to build our social network.

By and by, we found ourselves in a new congregation where it wasn’t, “everybody knows your name.” There was a worship choir but it was used as a visual prop rather than for vocal fullness. I gave up on being very involved musically and concentrated on working with the youth team until the youth pastor moved on and at that point, we moved on too.

You can learn a lot about how to be a good leader, or what not to do as a leader, when sitting under others. When I took a worship director position, I began to understand some of the whys behind the way leaders had handled situations. I also came across situations and remembered negative handlings and knew I had to find a different approach than what I’d seen others do. I didn’t realize it at the time, but all those years of church involvement were training me as a leader. I wouldn’t have been ready to lead, if a leader hadn’t taken the time to notice ME and my interests. Those leaders saw my strengths and PLUGGED me into positions where I could grow and shine at what I loved. If I hadn’t had those opportunities to be involved, I wouldn’t have had a commitment to attending church.

To leaders:

If you want committed people, get them involved in areas of their passions. If you want to build leaders, give them opportunities to grow and shine. Leaders see the potential in others and help them grow by giving them opportunities to lead, from small to large responsibilities.  Look around and see the potential that is waiting to be more than just a seat warmer.