4 Helpful Tips For Transitioning Someone Out Of A Role



How do we transition someone out of a role?

It’s one of the most challenging tasks of any worship leader – transitioning someone out of a role. It is far easier to appoint someone than it is to disappoint someone, and these moments can either build or break your leadership growth.

Let’s first say, once again, that it pays to be careful and extended in your process of appointing people to certain roles.

I have always believed, very deeply, in short-term commitments to roles in a worship ministry. When you leave things too open-ended, people will assume they are in their role forever.

Clarify this from the beginning by communicating to all team members “We’re always mentoring, we will always be getting other people involved – and for that reason, we all have to be willing to step on or off the stage as needed for that process to continue.

1. Get Feedback
2. Approach With Humility
3. Champion Who They Are
4. Explain The Reason


Get feedback on your perspective.

Always, always look for feedback on your perspective on the person and why you think it’s time to transition them out of their current role.

Are you reading the situation correctly? Is there something about this person that might be affecting you, but not anyone else? Maybe they’ve been appointed to a role too early, or they’re not technically ready to do what you need them to do.

They may not have been trained thoroughly enough, and now they’re in a leadership role and we need to pull them back.

Their failure or lack of growth may, in part, be our own fault. That may be very difficult to own, but the reality is that sometimes our perspectives are not wholly accurate.
Ask people you trust for perspective; ask mature leaders around you who can understand the situation you’re in and will honor the person as much as you.

Present what you love about the person and what you celebrate, and then, with humility, discuss where you’re finding the disconnect.

You could have an amazing astrophysicist stuck in a plumber’s job, and all anyone sees is that they’re a bad plumber. In this scenario, someone needs to see beyond what’s immediately in front of you and say, “There’s an astrophysicist in training. Why don’t you direct them that way?”

Feedback on your perspective from others who love that person and you will give you an honest snapshot of what may be happening.

Having others’ feedback will also be helpful for you in understanding how to lovingly and carefully transition them.


Approach the person with humility.

Leadership at its best is functional, not positional.

We want to have spiritual authority as a worship leader not because our title demands everyone see it that way, but because worship leadership is clearly a vocation God has called you to and others sense that to be true.

We are called to pastor people – to love them and to do our best even after we have done our best. All along in our process, we must come before God in these challenging moments to pray for the best possible outcome. Reiterate your desire to fight for love in your community to yourself and to Jesus.

Don’t be easy to offend among your other leaders and team members, and don’t be quick to offend others just because you can or are cranky.

The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. All of these fruits are to dominate the Spirit-filled believer’s life.

The fruit of the Spirit is what you want to flow from you in all circumstances.

Let’s say that, after all this, you still believe you must transition a person out of their role.

Approach the person with humility, with transparency, with caring leadership, and with clear communication in person or on the phone (texting, long emails, talking through others – none of these, in my experience, work well in a difficult situation).

With love for who the person is, talk about what their passions are, and their dreams.

Then, speak the truth in love. And once you have been honest, allow the person the emotional space to be upset if needed. Some of their personal identity is on the line, and people handle those moments differently according to their emotional maturity.

And note again – if you keep commitments short-term, it is so much easier to transition someone out of a role as you mentor someone else into it.


Champion who they are as a person.

If you believe that the person you are transitioning has giftings and leadership in another area – it’s time to get really honest with them.

Champion who they are as a person, and treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve as a child of God by telling them what you believe to be true about their calling in Christ.

And although what they hear may be unsettling, it is to their long-term good to listen to what you are saying.

Then, trust that this transition is the best for the community. We all want people to like us, but at the end of the day, we need to be honest and truthful for the sake of the church, and the sake of the Church.

All our words should be threaded with grace and love, yes, but also with honestly and confidence as a leader.
At the end of the day, you are going to need to make a call and stick with your decision.

If that person doesn’t agree with you, if they don’t trust your clarity, ask them to pray for you, for guidance and wisdom in your role.

And, though you may never know if you were completely right or wrong in triggering these transitions, you may find that some people will actually come back and thank you when they have time and energy to invest their lives outside of the worship ministry.

Sometimes it takes years, but that’s okay. Stick with what you’ve decided, and work to fill the gaps created. Then trust Jesus with the results.

Even if you made a mistake, God will take care of you and His Church.


Explain the reason for change.

Being up front with the person ends up being the most effective way of beginning their transition. Explain the reason for the change thoroughly. You need to talk it out, and be honest.

If you beat around the bush, you’ll just end up making the transition that much harder for both of you. Tell the person why you think they’re not a fit for this role, and where you see that their strengths lie.


Try at least one idea here.

Although transitioning someone out of a role can be uncomfortable, it is sometimes necessary for your church and community’s growth in the long run.

You can do it.

The grace of God will be with you. Make sure you are praying through this entire process and getting others around you praying for your heart as well as the heart of the person in transition.



Just sign up for my email list, and receive a download of FREE worship team devotionals (and a few extras!).




Sheltering Mercy: Prayers Inspired by the Psalms

Sheltering Mercy, along with its companion volume, Endless Grace, helps us rediscover the rich treasures of the Psalms—through free-verse prayer renderings of their poems and hymns—as a guide to personal devotion and meditation.

The church has always used the Psalms as part of its prayer life, and they have inspired countless other prayers. This book contains 75 prayers drawn from Psalms 1-75, providing lyrical sketches of what authors Ryan Smith and Dan Wilt have seen, heard, and felt while sojourning in the Psalms. Each prayer is a response to the Psalms written in harmony with Scripture. These prayers help us quiet our hearts before God and welcome us into a safe place amid the storms of life.

This artful, poetic, and classic devotional book features compelling custom illustrations and foil-stamped hardcover binding, offering a fresh way to reflect on and pray the Psalms.