Life after Darlene: Thoughts for Church Leaders

I just saw that after 25 years of ministry, Darlene Zchech and her husband will be leaving Hillsong Church. Click here to read the article. As far as legacies go, she most definitely has left an incredible mark, not only at Hillsong Church, but for the Church abroad. As an anointed song writer, she really sparked a huge flame with a single song called, "Shout to the Lord", which rocked my heart in the mid 90's and opened my eyes to this thing called "worship", along with many others, I'm sure.

One of the most important aspects of her legacy at Hillsong, to me, is her apparent realization that her ministry was much, much bigger than her. Because of this realization, there is a definite, strong life after Darlene Zchech at Hillsong. It would've been very easy for her to build that worship ministry on her strengths alone, but instead she realized that she would have been doing the church an injustice. I remember buying the big Hillsong CD called "Shout to the Lord" way back in the 90's. A lot of great songs, and Darlene was featured and prominent throughout the album. Now, you listen to a Hillsong CD and she's not prominent at all, in a good way. Because of her big picture heart, we are being inspired and blessed by so many different artists and songwriters.

Just imagine if she would have allowed pride to seep in alongside all the success.

What if she insisted on being in the forefront, as other anointed, gifted leaders waited in the wings?
First, those leaders would have moved on. I experienced that before I started working for the church. I remember sitting there, trying to maintain a pure heart while not being used. I was willing and ready. I was gifted, but that meant that someone would have to give up a little bit of the reigns. I eventually moved on, and even though I caused no drama and held no resentment, it was a frustrating time. Looking back, it could have discouraged me from serving ever again.

Second, the church would have missed out. Even though Darlene is an extremely gifted singer/songwriter/worship leader, there were people like Reuben Morgan, Miriam Webster, Joel Houston, and Brooke Fraser, just to name a few out of many. In those four names alone, we have songs like: "Hosanna", "Mighty to Save", "Made Me Glad" and "From the Inside Out". Not only would we not have these songs, but Hillsong Church would have missed out on the future vision from their younger leaders. Darlene didn't allow insecurity or some futile sense of worth in her position from keeping her to empower the future leaders of the church. She helped train, disciple and mentor them into being Spirit-filled, Spirit-led worship leaders that would take the church to future generations.

Third, Darlene would have missed out on the joy of passing the torch. Pride can really screw things up. I can just hear some of the things pride would have been saying to Darlene. Things like: "No one else can lead as well as you do." or "Watch your back...the younger crowd is gonna steal your spot and kick you out." I have seen first hand how those lies of Satan can totally destroy a person and make them think and act in the flesh, instead of the Spirit. It can rob us of the joy of mentoring someone to take our place. Simply put, if we don't pass the torch, the fire will go out.

I think we can learn a lot from Darlene's example at Hillsong, especially as church leaders. We need to evaluate ourselves and ask ourselves tough questions.

Where are we finding our worth? Is it in our title or position? Eventually, those will go away.

Who are we investing in, discipling, and mentoring? If we're experienced, we can really help young leaders and teach them.

Is our ministry built around our talent or personality? That's a tremendously shallow foundation.

Let's work on replacing ourselves more than holding on to our positions. I think if we do that, there will be life after us.

1 comment:


Just think also how great it must have been (not through the hard times, necessarily, but overall) to have a staff/support/peers to have you around for 25 years. I don't think I know of anyone else who has been able to serve either by choice or by allowance as a worship leader for 25 years. Perhaps we could accomplish much more as worship leaders as well if we weren't forced or frustrated to leave an average of every 3 years... Just food for thought. Nice points Gary!