3 Lessons Your Church Can Learn from Disney (Part 2)

Last week we started a 3-part series on Leadership Lessons that I think every Pastor and Worship Leader can learn from one of the world’s most unique leadership laboratories — Disney.

After being invited to take part in a special “behind-the-scenes” tour of Walt Disney World and seeing the inner-workings of Disney in a way that few people do, I couldn’t help but share with you these THREE BIG leadership lessons that I learned along the way.

We covered the first one last week – Over-manage the Details.  And today, I’ll cover Lesson #2:


One of the most surprising things I heard our tour guide (a 25-year Disney Management Team Veteran) say time and time again is, “We make mistakes. We’re not perfect. But we try.”

Not the kind of humility you would expect from a company that is so well-known for it’s success.  But there’s a lot to be said for owning up to our failures and learning from them.

At one point in the tour our guide said, “Right now in Magic Kingdom alone over 60,000 employees are working. And right now someone somewhere is messing up!”

True in the Magic Kingdom, and true in our churches.

You don’t have to be in ministry long to know that our churches and our teams are made up of imperfect people, and they are lead by imperfect people (us!). It’s inevitable… someone somewhere is going to mess up. But do you strive for excellence?

You see – there’s a difference between striving to do the right thing and failing, and not knowing (or caring) what the right thing to do is.

A guitar player who practiced hard, but didn’t get his solo just right  on Sunday is different from the guitar player who showed up to rehearsal late not knowing the music at all.

The difference is a commitment to excellence. And guess who sets the standard for excellence on your team.  That’s right… YOU!

So how do you minimize failures by maximizing excellence?  Here are 3 ways:

#1 – Model excellence for your team. Remember – you recreate what you are, not what you want. If you have “striving for excellence” issues on your team, before you look out the window to see what’s wrong with them, look in the mirror and ask, “In what areas am I not modeling excellence for my team?”

#2 – Teach your team what it means to pursue excellence. At our twice-a-year Worship Arts Team training (which I call New Season Kick-off) I always do a section of our training on excellence. I let them know I don’t expect them to be perfect, but that I do expect them to do the best they can with what God has given them. I teach on excellence from Malachi 1. I come back to this core value during our Sunday morning prayer times every 4-6 weeks. By continually teaching excellence, my team not only knows it’s expected, but they begin to expect it of themselves.

#3 – Protect your culture of excellence. When a member of your team fails as a result of not giving their best, you and I have to be willing to talk with them and challenge them to step it up.  If you don’t deal with it the first time, you’re setting yourself up to deal with it again!  When you don’t challenge someone who is habitually late to rehearsal, don’t be surprised when other members of your team start arriving late, too. Protect the culture and values of your team.

Winston Churchill said, “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

So help your team understand that you don’t expect them to be perfect. But – don’t let a lazy attitude toward excellence be the reason for failure on your team. Build a strong culture of excellence that constantly calls you and your team to always give your best.

And remember… Excellence is an act of worship.

Your partner in ministry,


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In the network, you will:

* Join me for a monthly 90-minute coaching call where I will teach you practical, “will work tomorrow” strategies for leading a thriving worship ministry

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Here is what other worship leaders have had to say about how they’ve grown in my coaching network:

“We have been implementing many changes in our Sunday Service System. The result has been less stress on Sunday mornings and throughout the week, an increase in attendance and retention of new attendees, better communication between myself and the other staff and volunteers, and an easier rehearsal time.”

– Josiah Herried, CenterPoint Christian Fellowship, Tacoma, WA

“I would not be exaggerating to say that in my case this network has been life/ministry transforming. In this past year the Worship arts Department has grown more than in the last 7 years combined. This network really helped to de-stress my life and increase my effectiveness as the Worship Pastor.”
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– Jeff Little, Ridgecrest Church of the Nazarene, Ridgecrest, CA

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Visit www.worshipleaderinsights.com/coaching for additional video testimonies from worship leaders just like you!