How to Deal With Difficult People in Your Worship Team (9 Things to Consider)

13 July 2015

Where there are people, there are difficult people, right? It doesn’t matter which church or worship team you choose, we all have people with unique personalities and idiosyncrasies. This is all well and good but what do you actually do with these people?

How do you deal with them?

Over the years it seems I’ve become a magnet for difficult people on our team. You know the ones. You have them in your church too. They’re the people that most of your team ignore, try to avoid, or talk about behind their back.

Sometimes these people are difficult and do it on purpose, other times they have no idea they’re doing it. Sometimes they’re nasty, other times they’re willful and won’t fall into line.

There’s been times when I’ve had the responsibility to approach difficult people in our team and those times have ranked amongst the toughest experiences of my life. Having said that, they have also ranked as some of the most joyous, as the situations have turned around. I’m sure you can relate.

Dealing with difficult people isn’t easy, but then no one ever said leadership was easy. It takes tenacity, courage and a good dose of surrendering all situations to God.

Difficult people in a worship team have a way of infecting everyone. It doesn’t matter whether it’s general negativity or a lazy attitude, the difficult person’s way of approaching the team and life will have an impact.

The easy thing would be to ignore the situation, but this is the worst thing to do because the long-term effects could be devastating.

It may take a while, but the impact will eventually be felt. The rest of the team are looking to you as the leader to take the initiative, be bold and do something.

But what do you do?

As I reflect on the various ways I’ve approached this area of ministry, I realize there are countless answers to this question. At times I’ve done it well, at other times I’ve learned what not to do.

Below, I’ve listed 9 thoughts. They’re really just things to consider, but hopefully they will help you as you endeavor to faithfully lead and steward the lives of those in your worship team.

Here’s 9 considerations when dealing with difficult people;

1. Actually love them

This is easier said than done. Needless to say, it is our mandate. Just because a team member has a different point of view, or a unique way of seeing the world, it doesn’t mean we, as their leader/pastor should write them off. Instead, we need to go out of our way to love them, unconditionally.

SEE ALSO: 4 Ways to Care for Your Worship Team

2. Make sure it’s not you

Before jumping to conclusions about that difficult person that is causing you so much grief, stop and consider whether they are really the problem. At times I’ve thought people are being hard to work with, and then I’ve realised it was the way I had been approaching the situation.

Ask yourself, could it be me? Have I communicated clearly? Have I done all I can to set the person up to win? Have I said or done something that has offended the person?

At the end of the day, it could be a little thing that you can change about yourself, which could make all the difference.

3. Ask them to step up

Depending on the situation you may need to meet with the person and challenge them to step up. By this I mean, you may need to ask them to literally change the way they’re approaching the team, your leadership, or whatever the issue is. Some people will respond well to having an open and honest conversation.

If approached humbly, yet with a sense of vision and boldness, you may be surprised. The person may be ready to change, or take on a higher level of responsibility.

SEE ALSO: 8 Ways to Bring the Gold Out in People

4. Ask them to step down (for a time)

Sadly, sometimes it’s necessary to ask a difficult person to consider taking some time off the platform. This would be a last resort and not something you would want to take lightly. Never use the platform as a reward, or a punishment. The platform is for service and honour of God!

It’s incredible how an attitude can dramatically change when an opportunity to serve is removed. And, when an attitude doesn’t change after having the difficult conversation with someone, you know you’ve made the right decision. Whatever you do, make sure you follow up with them, don’t just take them off platform and forget about them!

5. Cast vision to the entire team

When you find you have diffficulty with one person it may be something that other people in the team are also struggling with, but are just less vocal about. In that case, it could be a good idea to intentionally cast some vision around the way you see that particular issue. Communicate the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’. Create a picture of how great the future will be as together you walk towards that common goal.

We would do this at Team Night or in our pre-service prayer meetings. You could call a special vision meeting, or simply chat with the team over lunch one day.

6. Take them on the journey

Sometimes difficult people are that way simply because we as leaders have not taken them on the journey. It’s so easy to think of a great idea and try to implement it without anyone else even knowing about it. Instead, a better way to approach the team and especially the difficult person is to ensure that you are taking the appropriate time and putting in the right effort to communicate the vision. All the while encouraging them to continue on the journey with you.

SEE ALSO: 25 Confessions of a Worship Team

7. Work out what the problem behind the problem is

Often the problem you are experiencing with a difficult person is not the real problem. For example, someone may be constantly late to rehearsals. When you ask them about it, they’re defensive and rude. The reason being, unbeknownst to you they recently lost their job which means they have to take public transport to rehearsals instead of driving. They’re embarrassed about the situation they find themselves in and don’t want to tell you.

Our team members have lives outside of whatever it is they do with us and the team. Just like yourself, often they have a lot going behind the scenes. Therefore, we always need to be mindful of this and respond accordingly. Ask questions and do a lot of listening, perhaps you’ll discover the real issue and then will be able to offer the right kind of assistance to help the person move forward.

8. Pray for them

This sounds obvious but often when we’re in the thick of an issue with a person and we don’t know the way forward it’s not as obvious as it sounds. Praying about the situation and asking God for a way forward for OURSELVES is easy. Praying for the person that’s causing issues isn’t so easy.

Choose to be the bigger person — choose to bring that person, their life, situation and future to the Lord. Seek His best for them and after that make your own requests known for your side of the situation.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5 NIV)

By approaching the situation this way, at the very least your attitude will be challenged. At best, you will find a new measure of grace for them. From that place, a resolution may not always come but at least you’ll have the grace to continue loving and working with the difficult person.

9. Remember that you hold their reputation in your hands

When someone is causing trouble, saying nasty things, or doing stupid things, and they’re meant to be an upright member of the worship team, it’s easy to talk about them without even thinking. It starts with one story with a trusted friend and can end up with gossiping to anyone who’s had a similar experience with the difficult person.

As the leader of the team though, you hold the reputation of your team in your hands. It is your responsibility to steward this. Even though you may be in the right, it is not okay to be telling the story to anyone that will listen. Again, be the bigger person and keep your mouth shut.

Of course there are times when it is necessary to discuss situations with key leadership to seek council and gain consensus on how to move forward etc. But on the whole it is best to choose personal discipline of saying nothing when it comes to the people of your team and the situations they find themselves in.

Aside from these 9 thoughts, don’t forget that we’re all on a journey. None of us are perfect and we’re probably a little difficult to someone too. Give those who are difficult the benefit of the doubt and a lot of grace. This is not to say you shouldn’t have standards or lead, it just means approach all of this in a truly prayerful, thoughtful, and biblical way.

Also, the truth is, their reaction is not up to you. Your responsibility is to humbly lead your team. For the good of the entire team, and your church in general, it doesn’t pay to ignore problem people.

Of course, all of this should be done in relationship with your leadership and the structures and procedures you have in place. Don’t go it alone when it comes to dealing with issues. Always approach things in unity with your leaders and pastoral team.

All the best with dealing with the difficult people in your worship team. Take heart and persevere. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you!!

As always, if you have questions about this topic please add them to the comment section below. I may not have all the answers but I’m sure that together we can help each other move towards Godly solutions.

Over to you…

Rich