Can we all agree that life is one crazy adventure? I am continually rocked by God, and I am absolutely thankful for each minute of it. Time is short.. I can sense it all around.. and I can also sense God upping the ante in lieu of this – laying big dreams on His kids’ hearts, pouring out His Spirit like never before. The best ever sermons are being preached, the best ever songs of praise are being written… We are living in the last days, my friends, and what exciting days they are!
Part of the adventure for me is leading worship!
There are numerous (seriously, numerous) important aspects to leading worship that all range from the spiritual to the practical and more. There is one important and especially delicate balance I have learned over the years that I want to focus on today.
While we are leading worship, it cannot be understated that we ourselves must legitimately worship Jesus Christ. What happens on the platform ought to be an extension of our personal devotion to the Lord. We mustn’t sing empty words or play hollow music; we must honestly engage our hearts in every lyric, in every chord. One thing I mentally remind myself whilst leading worship is to slow down. I don’t mean tempo, of course… or maybe sometimes that’s what I mean!! But no, what I mean is to discipline myself to enjoy the moment, savor His perfect presence. It’s all too easy to allow our focus to be with the music, lights, sound, lyrics, technical difficulties, cues, non-verbal communication – and suddenly we’re already ending the last song. Instead, I encourage you worship leaders to slow down and really worship God for yourself… soak up His presence.. be seriously refreshed.
But like with many spiritual principles, there is a paradox.
We worship leaders walk a fine line because our responsibility is to lead worship. Our pastors are probably not asking us to get up on stage and lead ourselves in worship week after week, but rather lead the flock to living water week after week, like a pastoral and sensitive shepherd. We metaphorically grab people by the hand and take them to where Jesus is. I heard it said recently that a worship leader is an intercessor – he brings the hand of God and the hand of the people together. And this, this is our responsibility. We don’t lead songs. We lead people.
I know some worship leaders who simply close their eyes for the entire time of musical worship and shut out everyone else in the room, oblivious to the congregation’s response to the Holy Spirit, or lack of response. Are we truly bringing God the most glory if we as leaders and pastors forget about the people He’s asked us to steward over, and simply focus on ourselves and God? Soberingly, no. To me, that’s like a parent eating lunch in front of his hungry kids without making them something to eat as well.
In fact, leading the people in our churches in response to the revelation of Christ is itself an act of worship.
So. When you’re up leading worship, your concern is not all about “Am I connecting with God right now?” but instead, “Are we connecting with God right now?” This may begin, as I said earlier, with you personally slowing down to enjoy His presence (or some would suggest that it even begins with your senior pastor), but it is not enough to let it end there, my friends. Our act of worship is to lead people – not just ourselves – toward Christ.
Another way to think of it is to picture your ministry in two directions: we minister to the Lord and we minister to the congregation.
Encourage your church to engage in worship, by your demeanor, your words, and your attitude. Develop a deep concern for the spiritual well-being of your church. Do everything you can to help position people to encounter the living God. From my ‘worship leader heart’.. the end result is not about me connecting with God so much as it is about us connecting with God.
Friends, I love you and I believe in what God is doing through each of us. He is good.