Do You “Worship” When You’re Not “Leading Worship”?

judgeLast week I enjoyed some great time off with my wife, visiting family in central and south Florida, and on Saturday night we went to a service at the church where my grandmother, aunt, uncle, and cousins are members.

It’s always refreshing for me to visit other churches – not having to pick the songs, not knowing what’s coming next, learning things, getting ideas, feeling what it’s like to be a visitor, etc.

It can also be a challenge for me to visit other churches – trying to not be critical, fighting pride, not comparing ways I think I could do a better job or ways I would do a worse job, etc.

I thought the worship leader and worship team did a great job at the service we attended. They were prepared, engaged, expressive, skillful, and tasteful. I had the joy of meeting the worship leader after the service and he was a kind and humble guy.

But going into the service, I had no idea what to expect. What if the worship team was unprepared, disengaged, made up of really weak musicians, and played really loud? What if the songs were poorly chosen? What if the worship leader had a lot of ticks? What if no one in my family sang along or was comfortable with being physically expressive?

As I drove to church with these questions on my mind, God reminded me that none of the questions mattered. Only one thing mattered: he is unceasingly and unconditionally worthy of worship – whether the band is good or the band is bad. Whether the songs are great or the songs are horrible. Whether the worship leader is experienced and skilled or inexperienced and riddled with ticks. He deserves my worship. God is not interested in picky worshipers who will only do so when all their preferences are catered to. Rather, these are the “…kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit and his worshippers must worship him in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23b, 24)

My guess is that all of us who have a role in leading corporate worship in our home churches could always grow in this area. It’s not a good sign if, when you’re not the one leading worship or visiting another church, you become Simon Cowell. “I would have done that differently.” “This is a dumb song.” “Why is that guy leading worship?” “I can’t hear the bass.” Fill in your own critical statement here.

It’s also not a good sign when you’re engaged in singing and worshipping God with passion and conviction when you’re up front – but then doing the exact opposite when you’re not.

God calls that pride – and he is clear on what pride will bring about. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2) “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) “‘Scoffer’ is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride.” (Proverbs 21:24)

You and I will be fighting pride until the day we’re in heaven. Until then, it’s a good idea for us to pray for God to be making us humble, and making us worshipers who will worship him in Spirit and truth.

It was an incredibly freeing experience for me to turn off my critiquing, put aside my silly “what-if’s”, fix my eyes of the worthiness and glory of God, and sing to him from the congregation. Hopefully, by God’s grace, I’ll be a more humble and genuine worship leader because of it.

One thought on “Do You “Worship” When You’re Not “Leading Worship”?

  1. James Koerts August 27, 2009 / 9:32 am

    Jamie, thanks for this post! It is extremely easy for skilled worship leaders to become prideful, and we know (based on the Scripture you referred to) that God is not pleased with pride.

    I recognized that early in my ministry, and quickly asked Christ for forgiveness. It’s a continual struggle. I agree that the key to victory in this area is found in your profound conclusion: keeping your eyes on God.

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