Set the Temperature

Living in the northeast United States, I tend to rant when it’s cold in the winter. It’s so cold, in fact, that when I walked out to the car this morning, there was a frozen turtle dove lying next to the curb. Poor little guy. He wasn’t just sleeping.

Two days ago, the high temperature was 18º F which was much warmer than the morning’s 6º F that felt like -12º F when factoring in the wind.

Cold, real cold.

And that morning, the house felt colder than usual. At first, I figured it was because of how cold it was outside. But I checked the thermostat, just in case.

Glad I did. One of our children, who will remain nameless (because they have not confessed yet), had turned the heat off. Ugh!

It reminded me of a conversation I had recently with a worship leader. Her pastor had just preached on the classic “be a thermostat, not a thermometer.” The basic idea is “don’t just report the temperature, set the temperature.”

She was having relational difficulty with some of her team members, and was becoming aware that it was her job not just to say “Ugh. It’s cold in here!” but to actually make it warmer.

See, you need both to be a leader. You must read what’s happening on your team. And then you need to influence what’s happening on your team.

It’s easy to be “long on diagnosis, short on cure” to quote the Don Chaffer song...

  • Complaining about how you can’t get your team to show up on time and prepared.
  • Complaining about how the congregation doesn't engage.
  • Complaining about how bad the mix in the house is.
  • Complaining about how your pastor demands that you play songs you don’t like.
  • Complaining about how bad the live stream sounds.
  • Complaining about how loud the drummer is.
  • Complaining about how your team doesn’t get along, is just there to play, or bails on rehearsals.
  • Complaining about how you don’t have enough musicians.

You know, regular stuff.

Hey, you have to notice it, right?! You do. It’s part of your job as a leader to assess the situation. But don’t get stuck just reading the thermometer and ranting on how cold it is. Set the temperature.

  • Lead your team to show up on time and prepared.
  • Lead the congregation well.
  • Equip the tech team to create great mixes.
  • Lead your pastor to have better tastes.
  • Work to improve the live stream.
  • Teach the drummer to play to the room.
  • Lead your team to get along.
  • Help them see that we’re all serving for something greater than ourselves.
  • Energize them with vision for what can happen at rehearsals.
  • Create an irresistible team culture that attracts great musicians.

Be determined to set the temperature. It’s your job as a leader.


Ps. Oh I almost forgot to explain my tongue-in-cheek comment about pastors needing better tastes. I’m surprised how often I hear of the scenario where worship leaders feel pressured or directly asked to do songs that they either don’t like or don’t think are appropriate for a worship gathering. We could talk about submitting to authority (which is appropriate) or clarifying vision (which is crucial) or honoring each other (a must!), but why aren’t you just doing a better job of choosing music? Why would a (typically) non-musician feel the need to give you musical input? When you knock it out of the park more often with your song choices, you may receive fewer suggestions. Maybe, right?

Pps. Also, there’s irony in the analogy. Every thermostat HAS a thermometer in it. So what does that mean? ;)