There are a lot of things worship leaders can be anxious about before and/or during a service.
Your guitar string might break at just the wrong moment. The new song you’re teaching might totally bomb. You might make some mistakes. People might be zoned out and disengaged. The worship team might not sound any better than they did at rehearsal on Thursday night. Your sound guy might forget to turn on the amps again.
We all have different things we get anxious about before we lead worship. Either on Saturday night or Sunday morning when we wake up we begin looking to the worship service with dread and fear.
And we can get anxious during the service too. Maybe things just feel “off”. Maybe it’s your first time leading worship and you can tell you’re not as smooth as the other guys. Maybe someone said something critical to you. Maybe your sister is visiting from out of town and you’re wondering what she thinks.
My guess is that every Saturday night – across the world – there are thousands of worship leaders who are really really anxious about how the next morning will go. They don’t sleep very well and when they get to church the following day they’re a ball of nerves.
You might think: anxiety is normal. It’s impossible to not feel anxious before standing up in front of people, leading a band, and leading a congregation. What about on big days like Christmas Eve or Easter?
Here’s the problem: Philippians 4:4-7:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Jesus himself said:
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ (Matthew 6:31)
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (6:34)
Is it really possible to not be anxious? Yes. Is it easy? No.
There’s a difference between feeling the weight of the responsibility with which we’ve been trusted (a good thing) and looking at Sunday mornings forgetting that Jesus is a factor (a bad thing).
If we’ve “by prayer and supplication” made our requests, our anxiety, and our needs “known to God”, then we should expect his peace and be content to not worry about the next morning until it comes. This shouldn’t sound cliché. It should sound reassuringly easy.
But if we’ve forgotten that Jesus is a factor – THE factor – and that he not only hears our prayers and intercedes on our behalf – but commanded us to not be anxious – and is Lord over all – then we shouldn’t be surprised when we experience crippling anxiety.
Pings of anxiety will always be present – some times more than others – but shouldn’t linger or fester. They’re an opportunity for humility, not hand-wringing. They’re a reminder of our need for God, an opportunity to bring our requests to him with thanksgiving that because of Jesus Christ there’s no condemnation, no reason to fear, no reason to worry about little things or big things, and every reason to relax.
This really does pass “all understanding”, and it’s something worship leaders should continually seek after: the ability to be filled with Jesus-centered and Spirit-empowered peace.