I have a situation where one of my backup singers is always trying to override me as lead.  Her husband runs the sound and turns her mic up (per her gestures and pouting) and mine down so she can be heard above me. Their reasoning for this is because I have a strong voice and they turn her above me to be heard more. I have explained to them that the worship leader should be louder than the rest of the vocals and that he needs to follow my directions and not hers. Her response to our talk was telling me I was being petty about the mics. She has even went as far as stepping into my standing position which placed me behind her, her reasoning for that was she couldn’t see the words where she was. I told her I needed to be in that place because I am the worship leader and she needed to stand beside me. The tension was terrible during the worship service because she was mad, even our pastor felt the tension.  

She has a very strong controlling personality and it is difficult to talk to her without her getting mad or offended.  She thinks she needs to sing every word I sing and when I tell her she is to do only certain parts she gets…yep you got it mad! Then acts like she forgets and sings anyway.  This church is small and has gone through some tough times in the past and we are on our way back up, so we have been limited on talents and gifting. She is 60 years old and was kind of thrown into the team without anyone hearing her sing, because she has a difficult time with  staying on key and  going flat, another good reason for not having a loud mic. She has even taped herself and still thinks she can sing well. The main reason for her joining the team was to play the piano and she hardly does that because she wants to sing and not play. She owns most of the equipment and that gives her more control over things, or so she would like to think.

I have started classes on worship before practice to help us all have a better understanding of true worship and hoping this will help her to understand the importance of unity, fasting, prayer and humility.  I also have required the team to work with vocal teaching CD’s to help improve their voices, it hasn’t helped. I could go on with even more but just wanted to highlight some areas.

I know you are all probably thinking I am the one that needs banged on the head (LOL) for putting up with it like I have. But the truth is I am so concerned about hurting her (thinking about the past church issues) that I have not handled it right. Not that I have always allowed it but I become concerned as to how it will affect the church when I do. I also feel like she may not even know she acts like she does because it has been her personality for so long.

How do I deal with someone like this without asking them to leave the team? Is there hope for us in this situation? It makes me feel like I am the one trying to “control”. I know if something isn’t done it will only affect our worship and everyone on the team.



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What's more, it WILL affect the worship of those in your congregation! No music is better than what is going on there, Cindy. Your church leadership needs to step-up and deal with this situation NOW. Do you have leadership just above you, or is it just the senior pastor? My opinion is that this thing needs to be settled right now.
Sounds like you need to talk to this couple with your pastor. Don't go in alone.
Ditto to comments from Benjamin and Andy--you need someone else (i.e. pastor) to set things straight at this point. It sounds like you've taken good steps, but if she is continuing to challenge your leadership, someone "above" you needs to intervene and establish it for you. And if your pastor isn't willing to do that, then you should seek clarification from him about what exactly your role/responsibilities/authority is, and accept and work within that.

One other thought: I don't know exactly how you are distinguished as the worship team leader vs. team member (other than lead vocals vs. background vocals), but have you considered inviting/allowing her to be involved with some other aspects of leading the worship team?

As an anecdotal example...
My wife and I are very much a team when we lead worship, although I'm definitely the leader vocally, instrumentally, and spiritually. When we are planning a worship service, we'll sit down together and pray, asking for the Holy Spirit to direct and lead us as we plan. Then we talk briefly about a theme for the service (if applicable), and start picking out songs. When we've come up with enough songs, plus a couple of extras, we'll order them for the service, and then rehearse. There have been a few times when, for various reasons, I've done the praying and song selection myself, and then brought the list to her so that we can "finish" the planning and rehearse. When that has happened, she has expressed a struggle/frustration in that she doesn't feel like she's part of our "team," and more like "just a background singer."

Now I recognize that our situation is somewhat unique, but I think that my wife's occasional frustration may be akin to some of what you're seeing in your back up singer, especially since she has a significant investment in the team (the equipment, the sound man:)). Don't get me wrong--I don't think what she's doing is appropriate, and you shouldn't try to resolve the situation by feeding her ego/power trip. And if her vocal antics are borne out of a desire to be seen and heard, she should NOT be leading worship--our God humbles those who exalt themselves! But if her actions are borne out of a desire to be more involved as more than "just a background singer," increasing her involvement, especially in spiritual aspects, could be beneficial.

Grace and peace!
What Chris has suggested is sneaky, very sneaky... and it just might work! :)

It becomes hard for her to fight against what you are doing IF it doesn't look to her like your ministry but HERS... :) I feel it's worth some consideration.
First, make sure the pastor knows what's going on. Not to tattle, but to give him/her a heads up to address it spiritually. Further, if the singer decides to cut you off at the knees, your pastor is already in the loop. I'm not saying she will, but I've seen some pretty silly stuff happen in church – chances are, someone in the church knows her side of the tale already.

I also agree with Christopher and Junjie. She's less likely to destroy something she is co-owner of. I would be very intentional about it and extend the same to the entire team. Team co-ownership. This is what I intend to do when I get to lead a team. The whole team will be responsible for selecting songs, equal say in decisions concerning voicing, arrangements and the like. Leading of songs will alternate among the vocalists. I have served on five teams and seen the same problems over and over. In my opinion, this idea that we have to have one worship leader is the very idea that causes strife in worship teams. I've seen this very thing split a church. Ultimately of course, you have to have a 'buck-stops-here' person. That is the leader.

Of course, she may not be in a spiritual state in which she can genuinely take shared ownership over God's vision for your local body's worship. If that's the case, you'll need to approach her with the pastor. I don't expect such a situation to end well. I would prepare for things to get ugly. Most definitely be in prayer - we don't fight flesh and blood...
Dear Cindy. It seems like you've tried to talk to her. The next Scriptural step is to take another person with you and talk to them. After that your Pastor, etc... My 2 cents is that she's not "in subjection" to you as the pastor-appointed leader. Believe me I can empathize with you! [I'd give more details but someone that knows our P&W Team might read this :) ]

I'll pray for the LORD to guide you so that everyone is edified.
It's best to be open and honest, not sneaky. You definitely need to get the lead pastor involved and backing you first, but then talk with her. If you have spoken to her before, then you may have to ask her to step down. If the lead pastor thinks everything is fine the way it already is, I would pack up and leave because there will only be more turmoil in your future. I am going under the understanding that you are officially the worship leader "appointed and anointed", not just a fill in until they get a new worship leader.

To be clear, I'm definitely not advocating sneakiness in this situation (although Junjie's choice of wording did make me chuckle:)). I agree completely about pastoral involvement as the starting point, and, in particular, clarifying the responsibilities and authority of the worship leader with the pastor.

Additionally, I'm advocating the idea that the worship leader should play a pastoral role for the worship team, and look for spiritual development opportunities with the team members. Working through ugly relational situations in a Christ-honoring way is a central part of building the kingdom of heaven.

Grace and peace!
Hi - Not a good situation for anyone! I agree with most of the comments here and have two more ideas: 1) absolutely involve your pastor in this (and perhaps other leadership, like elders). You should talk to your pastor first and get his opinion and ideas. If he is willing to help (most pastors absolutely would!) then a group meeting could follow. 2) pray together with these people! If they are real believers that should absolutely make a difference. I know you've been praying about it - now together seek God's will for worship. 3) Get the husband/sound guy to train another sound person - you could then establish some ground rules around who manages the sound for whom. 4) I would have your pastor reaffirm your responsibility and authority for worship, and also do so with this couple.

I'll pray for you and your church right now! God does not want this kind of distraction and bad vibe in His church!
Tough situation - bad for morale, spoils the unity of the body, ruins the spirit of peace and cooperation. The right thing is to tell her that her time is short if she doesn't shape up, but that might be hard to do. I agree with others, this has to go to the Pastor, especially if he noticed the tension and discomfort. You're also working against your sound crew and that's not easy. They tend to have their own ideas about what works. From what you're saying, these two think it's their show and you're just an accessory. This needs to go in front of the pastor, but I think you should go to him first by yourself.

In reality, a person projects leadership or they don't. That doesn't excuse any of the behaviour, but it does say that you need someone to back you up. Even after that, they might not give in. What's the worst case? They leave and take the sound system with them? How bad can that be? If it's a small church, how much sound system do you need?
this sounds super frustrating, praying that you will be able to speak the truth in love, and that God would be glorified even in the difficult stuff like this....
Let us know how it goes after your next meeting or discussion....
My opinion, for what it is worth, this matter seems to need a little frank face to face talking through with your pastor and the other team members too.
First meet with your pastor and talk through the issues you face then ask for a meeting with all parties concerned.
I would tell them how her behaviour makes you feel and how it effects the worship, ask her also to explain just why things make her so angry.
Your actions are based around the role you need to fulfill, i.e. I'm leading so I need to stand at the front, I also have to give a vocal lead so my voice has to be prominent etc.
So give her the chance to explain why she feels she has be in front and loudest, to the pastor and the other team members.
Nothing beats face to face communication, it can be tense and a bit scary but at least you won't be facing her temper tantrums on your own.
To me, this lady comes over as behaving in a very childish fashion : if I don't get my way, I'm going to stamp my feet and shout and scream, it's MY PA with MY sound engineer, so I should be loudest yada yada yada
A serious attitude problem - a wannabe diva.

Yikes, this sounds a little harsh but this is how the situation reads to me. This is only my opinion after all so think on it or discard it as you will.

If she can't or won't amend her behaviour then she should step down.


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