With your worship team, no matter what your role, there’s an element that’s absolutely needed for success. It isn’t coffee, but I’d rather have that than go without. It isn’t great equipment, although that’s really helpful. It isn’t even skill or talent. So what is it? It’s trust.
Trust is the currency that allows a team to grow and thrive and lead worship together. Nobody’s “arrived” at their full potential, in musical or technical skill, in leadership, or in communication. All of us are going to fail at some point, whether it’s missing it musically, responding with angry eyes or a sharp tone to something that went wrong, or not communicating changes to everyone who needed to know before they needed to know it. Trust is the glue that keeps us together when these things happen to us and through us. When we trust each other, we can say with confidence that we know their intention was not to [insert flub here], and that even in their weakness, they would never intend to make that mistake.
Trust is rarely built on accident, and it’s a two-way street. It’s built by making little deposits, little tokens that over time build up to create a pattern in people’s minds that you’re trustworthy. It can be done with really simple things, but they’re all things that show that you care. For the sound tech, it means getting out of the sound booth and going on stage to make sure everyone has everything they need, all with a helpful, happy attitude. For the leader, it’s getting to know the story of the new team member, finding out about their life, their musical tastes, and connecting with them on things they’re interested in. It could be a small, specific affirmation about a band member’s performance, like, “Hey, great job nailing that rhythm in the bridge of that song - it felt so good!” Any little thing that can show that you’re paying attention and that you care builds trust.
On the giving side, trust can also be a choice. We can choose to trust that someone would never intend to communicate poorly, ignore a request, or neglect affirming a great job. That’s a choice that’s easier to settle in our hearts before the “thing” happens.
The distance between the stage and the sound booth creates a relational rift that has to be overcome intentionally.
If we're going to thrive at building a great team, we're going to have to address the gap between the sound booth and the stage. It's there. Logistically, it shouldn't go away. But relationally, we have to cross that bridge and cross it often to build trust. Staying unseen and unheard from diminishes trust, so if you're running sound, spend some time on stage, up close with your team. Look them in the eye and ask how they're doing when they arrive and help them set up. Ask them up close (but not too close... don't be creepy) how their monitor mix is, and if they need anything different. You'll be surprised how much easier it is to deal with problems when you've taken the steps to be present on stage.
While most trust is built slowly and over time, there’s one more trust multiplier that comes in this equation. When you see someone exemplifying your team’s vision and values, that they’ve owned them and taken them to heart, and put time and effort into it, it shows the integrity that deepens the well that trust can fill. One of my values is hard work and preparation. If I see someone who has clearly worked hard to prepare for a worship set, learned the song, learned the parts, knows how it fits in with all the other parts, I see that same value I esteem highly working in them, and it helps me trust them on a whole new level.
Trust is created slowly and over time, but just like a water balloon, it can pop and make a huge mess very quickly. Just like small raindrops can wash away a grassless hillside, the things that diminish trust are typically small things that can be rationalized as insignificant. It’s just a raindrop, right? Being late on a regular basis begins to silently communicate, “nobody really cares if we start on time, so why should I?” This poison slowly but easily spreads the “who cares?” idea to other areas until you have a serious morale and motivation problem. Show you care enough to make enough margin in your life so you can plan on being there early and prepared.
What areas are you contributing to building trust on your team? What norms or behaviors are eroding trust, and what can you do this week to start moving to build it?