[Worship Mythbusters is a series of posts debunking possibly damaging thinking about worship, worship leading and art/creativity/music in the church]
MYTH: Artist types cannot lead and what they do is not leadership–especially in the church.
Worship leaders seem to fit the profiling for the most part of being artistic types. This seems to be conventional wisdom in the church world, but for those of you scratching your head because you do not see the bubble of Evangelical Christian subculture please bear with me.
Obviously, in today’s society artists are leaders and what they do leads and for one very clear reason. Artists create culture. What does that mean? Artists express our stories. Artists critique our power structures. Artists build things that are bigger than themselves and if true art last longer as well. Look at Bono of U2 for example. How many filmmakers have influenced people’s daily lives the past 50 years?
Let me define who I think are “artists” today. Musicians, filmmakers, painters and performers of all type fit in this. But, there of course are audio engineers, lighting designers, graphic artists and photographers as well as others. I would even put computer programmers as artists to some degree since they create language!
While working at a very large church, I remember being stereotyped as one who because I was an artist could not lead well or especially manage well. What is interesting is that it seemed it was not the results always in question but the process. “Rich, you get to the right conclusions but seem to think backwards.” Artists think differently. We think globally, rather than everything being in a straight line.
When it comes to classic management, I think some may have a point. Management is a science. Use the psychology of pressure and manipulation and you can move people to a point. Leadership is art. Inspire a vision, picture and direction and you can succeed in moving people to a point as well. You might even inspire lives to change, not just seasonal behaviors.
If we define management as a science or the sociology of getting people to align with institutional goals, then leadership should be defined as influence that inspires not from the outside but works inside out of people. This is exactly what great art does!
This is why artists are scary to church leaders and when in the leadership cause some to shudder. The gift to move people inside out is indeed powerful. The irony is that there is an insatiable hunger to pragmatically employ the powerful gifting of artists in the church while shying away from developing and including them as viable thinkers and leaders in church leadership circles.
Here is a point for discussion. Do you agree or disagree that artists are leaders and why?