Leading with Awareness of Jesus’ Presence: Kory Miller

Hey, hey!

I am so grateful for the people God has placed around me and that I have had the enormous privilege of meeting. I have resolved in my mind to learn something from every person I encounter – and many of these individuals I wish I could carry around with me so I could employ their wisdom all the time!

One such individual is a pal of mine, Kory Miller. Kory is one of very few that I would say is a worship leader of worship leaders. Not only is his talent second to none, but his heart is genuinely considerate of the people he’s serving and he seriously has the spiritual gift of encouragement! He has been featured as a prominent worship leader on a few different albums, including “Nothing is Impossible” and “The Great I Am.”

I know you’ll be inspired by his thoughts. Thank you, Kory, for contributing!


Leading With Awareness of Jesus’ Presence

Asking me to write about leading worship is a dangerous request. I could very literally write for days and days and still not complete my thoughts on what an amazing honor it is to worship Jesus. So I will try to keep my rabbit trails to a minimum.

I have always known I wanted to be a worship leader. From a young age, I would go to church and excitedly watch the way these worshipers would lead a congregation. I would examine how they would flow from one moment to the next, all the while knowing in my heart that one day, my life would be all about this. I wanted to worship Jesus and lead others in that worship. Soon after, I started leading worship for my youth group, and I found that while most everyone else was satisfied with the 4 song set and a sermon, I wanted more. I could not be satisfied even if the service turned into a night of musical worship. All I wanted was to love my Father. I wanted to sing for Him. I wanted to play for Him. I wanted to pour my heart out and give to Him. This thirst, I believe, was God’s greatest gift to me. And that same thirst is what I believe worship leaders are driven by.

OK, I just might be crazy. And if so, then I would have the following crimes against me: I am crazy, and I LOVE that I’m crazy. I’m loud and have little to no shame. I speak in accents randomly, and tip with extravagance just to watch the server’s face. I am crazy. And I love it. Some people are satisfied with 20 minutes of worship a week. That would make me insane. Some people are satisfied with ABC sermons as their only intake of the Word that week (ABC Sermons = revelations from God that have Already Been Chewed and processed by the pastor or speaker). That would make me insane.  I have a need for God’s Word and His presence. Without it, I become this insane, perfectionist, dissatisfied worship leader. I NEED constant connection with God.  

Think with me about the American norm of a church member. This might not be your circumstance, but sadly, many worship leaders are forced to spend a lot of energy and time trying to convince churchgoers to simply believe that God is who He says He is. But if we as believers really believe everything He says to us, then we understand that He is always with us, “even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). What would happen if, as a whole, Christians showed up to church not needing the first 15 minutes of music to persuade them to bridge the gap that formed since their previous worship experience? What would happen if through the week, everyone that claimed Christ maintained their connection with the Father? As a worship leader, how would that affect your worship leading? From the beginning of selecting the songs, to the last chord of that service, we would worship throughout. Everything would be done with the heart of the Father.

Another rewind: I attended a Bible College in Missouri and LOVED all 4 years. I was so honored to be able to lead a chapel worship team during those 4 years. I remember events where I would lead a night of worship, just to go back to my dorm and worship some more. Most people would say that this is a great thing. Aren’t we supposed to fall madly in love with God? But I found a flaw in my thirst. While being “thirsty” is definitely a good thing, the fact that I would need to enter into His presence was so frustrating. Let me explain! If I need to “enter in,” I’m obviously living in a way which causes me to “exit out” at some point. But where in the Word does it tell us to exit out of God’s presence? “Do your daily tasks, then come and join me again so we can be spiritual” wouldn’t quite sit right with the rest of the Word. So I would come into church or chapel and say to God, “Ok, Your Word tells me to enter in with thanksgiving in my heart. Here I am, Lord. I’m here to worship you.” While these lines are reverent and heartfelt, I was dissatisfied. Deep down, I could feel that there was a lifestyle that yielded more of my attention, affection, and awareness to Jesus. He doesn’t desire us to box Him out of certain aspects of our lives. As worship leaders, it is our honor and duty to understand that connection with Jesus.

So I gave this a try. My heart was set. I would worship Him in everything. Stuck in traffic? Be aware of Him and worship. Waiting in line at a restaurant? Be aware of Him and worship. Filling up at a gas station? Be aware of Him and worship. You get the point. I tried this lifestyle out. It changed EVERYTHING. Suddenly, I was aware of how He felt about people. How He felt about me. My self worth was no longer a question. My unhealthy craving and need for perfection was dissolved. I finally understood that my perfect King died for me. My reaction to things good and bad started to become more like Him and less like me (and as we’ve already discovered, I’m crazy. Sooooo, that’s a win!). I began to live like a worshipper.

Last week, I was at a gas station and I was jammin’ out to Kari Jobe’s new Majestic album (if you don’t own it yet, do yourself a favor and download it NOW!!). “Revelation Song” was blaring in my car, and I couldn’t stop singing it! There I was pumping gas and just loving on Jesus, when I noticed the car adjacent to mine. There was a woman just staring at me. I was instantly a little bit embarrassed, but then just waved and laughed, saying, “This song is too good! I have to sing it with her!” She laughed and asked who it was. She started looking away and then made a statement, “Wow. You can really feel that music.” My response: “Oh, that’s just Jesus. He’s amazing huh?” She seemed apprehensive, and right there, we got to talk about Jesus. The questions she had been wanting to ask, the issues preventing her from knowing Him came to the surface because of worship.

What does this have to do with LEADING worship though? At one point in my life, I would have thought it was important but irrelevant to the logistics of leading a team/congregation. God has shown me that this actually has everything to do with leading. Romans 12:1 says to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, WHICH IS YOUR SPIRITUAL ACT OF WORSHIP.” When you are leading a congregation into worship, don’t buy into the lie that it is your voice or instrument that is leading. It is your heart. Your worship of Jesus is the surrendering of your life. It’s no longer, “I have to do this, this, this, this, and this. Then I have church where I lead people into His presence.” It now becomes, “Jesus, You’re so amazing. Your presence is here with me in this, You’ve spoken to me while doing this, You showed me your heart for them while I did this. I love You. Our connection is still the same, only now, I’m leading other people here. You’re just so good.” The Bible says that even while you sleep, your heart is instructing you on the revelations of God (Psalm 16:7). As a worship leader, you must be aware of Him. You can only lead so far in an uncomfortable climate. If you aren’t finding your home in God’s presence, then when you lead other people there, you yourself are going to feel a bit out place.

WORSHIP LEADERS: Be aware of Jesus in everything. There’s this amazing Hebrew word kavanah. Kavanah literally means “intention” or “direction.” The Jewish people would use this word to explain how they lived with the Lord. Their everything was intended for Yahweh. Their everyday chores, jobs, and even their hardships were all focused upon the God of Israel. They lived with an awareness of the One who created them. Live your lives using this word. In everything you do, think kavanah. That way when you step onto a stage, the only thing that you will be doing differently from the rest of your day is organizing the congregation’s love focus.

Let us become more aware of Your presence. 

Let us experience the glory of Your goodness. 

– Bryan & Katie Torwalt, from the song Holy Spirit

John 10:27
“My sheep know My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.”



Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s