Worship and Interpersonal Relationships
by Mark Sooy, Hopkins, Michigan
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor. (Romans 12:10)
After the worship service, one of the praise team members was discouraged. "Those comments that the sound tech made before the service were very discouraging. I really had a hard time worshiping this morning." I could tell she was disappointed and frustrated.
By her own admission, she took everything people said very personally -- even if the comments were not directed toward her. The comments the sound tech made were actually meant to help, but inadvertently caused the opposite reaction.
It reminded me of the reality of interpersonal relationships and that our ministry together is full of potential. There is potential for great things, as well as potential for problems. We must navigate through the mist of relationships, often wondering why people do what they do, or say what they say. In my case, I needed to help this team member work through what she was feeling and to think clearly about what happened.
My first thought was to help her to understand the context of the comments and acknowledge that they weren't directed at her specifically. Out in the midst of the congregation, the sound tech hears what we cannot hear on the platform. He is doing his best to prepare for a positive experience for the whole congregation. Muddy words, drums that are too loud, or instruments that are being lost in the mix are serious concerns for him. He is trying to listen holistically and get the best sound for the whole group.
In conjunction with that, we need to consider the idea of our serving the congregation. As a musician or leader, we have a role to play and are concerned about doing that to the best of our ability. We want to serve well. Yet so do the people involved in sound and multimedia. They serve, often unnoticed and with little thanks, until something goes wrong. By dealing with issues during rehearsal, these men and women are also "rehearsing" to serve with their best efforts. Let's believe the best about them and their desire to serve well.
Another thought I shared was that we must enter into the life of the sound tech to understand why his comments may have not been worded well, or were said harshly. We both know this person and his own life struggles. As we talked through the tensions in his life, the frustration from the morning began to soften. When we considered the other person, compassion was built and God's Spirit moved us toward a loving response. We knew that there were greater pressures in his life than simply an adjustment in the mix, and by recognizing this we were able to put his mood and his comments into context.
Finally, I pointed out that her perception of having "a hard time worshiping," may have been simply a misplaced focus. You see, sometimes people look for some elusive feeling of "worship" that will confirm that they have, indeed, worshiped. However, when we rely on our feelings to validate our life and our experience, we often will be disappointed. Worship is an obedient response to the work of God in our lives, and is manifested by serving others (see Romans 12:1-21). We serve our faith community by playing instruments, singing, and planning worship. If God has gifted us for those things, and we are obedient in doing them, sometimes the "feeling" we look for may come lagging along later -- or maybe not at all. Regardless, we must assess our loving response of obedience in serving others as that which God expects from His servants (see Colossians 3:23).
Next time you get a sense of frustration as the result of an interpersonal conflict, use one or all of these ideas to think more clearly about the situation. "Be devoted to each other," as our Scripture verse states, and think the best thoughts about your fellow-servants.
1. When you have any sort of conflict with someone, how can trying to see the situation from their perspective help?
2. What other practical ways have you learned to deal with conflicts in interpersonal relationships?
3. Take time this week to encourage your tech team and anyone else who may be unseen and unnoticed until a problem occurs.