I'll admit it: I'm an amud snob. I don't think just anyone who wants to lead services should do so.
I'm not the worst snob though. My personal requirements are limited. I think a person who leads services should believe in God, have a decent command of Hebrew and be able to carry a tune. Am I asking too much?
In the shul I daven in, apparently I am.
Perhaps it's just me but when people who fail to meet the qualifications I just mentioned go up to lead services it grates on my nerves. A few years ago, for example, we had a guy saying kaddish for his mother. This is a gentleman who will happily explain to you why he doesn't believe in God, the hereafter, etc. When asked why he was making the effort to come to shul every day to lead services and say kaddish he said he was doing it in memory of his mother. Not because she was watching from the Heaven he didn't believe it but because he thinks it's what she would have wanted.
Would you want to be part of a congregational service lead by this guy?
And then this weekend it got worse. On Friday afternoon one of the teens in the congregation who belongs to a Frum-for-fun (see prior posts for explanation) family decided he wanted to lead Mincha. He decided this and was given the opportunity despite barely being able to have read Hebrew and (I overheard him saying this after) not even having looked over the Amidah he had to repeat out loud. He stumbled over pretty much every word except "Baruch attah" and a couple of times looked over at the Rav and asked "Did I say that right?"
And then on motzei Shabbos we had another congregant who is now starting to say kaddish for a parent. A nice guy from the FFF crowd he also can barely read Hebrew and stumbled over almost every word.
Give me some credit. I sat patiently through both "performances' without saying anything but by the end of it I felt like someone was dragging their nails across the chalkboard.
The leading of services should be something special. A shaliach tzibur isn't just up there because he has a chiyuv or because it's "his turn" but to serve as the spiritual uniter for the congregation's prayers. Shouldn't that mean meeting some kind of minimum standard of competence instead of giving over to anyone who wants it as a form of outreach or keeping people interested?
Or is it just me?