The good news of the Gospel is that we who were dead in sin are now alive in Christ. We who were once in bondage have been set free. Jesus has secured for us eternal peace with God. We live in the freedom of God’s grace. But do we?
Sadly, too many Christians don’t know this freedom. They live their lives feeling guilty, not forgiven. They live their lives in a constant pursuit to make God happy with them, not in gratefulness for his unmerited favor. They pretend to be perfect. They try to make everybody happy. They’re in prison.
This is particularly dangerous for people in ministry, and worship leaders are not immune. The underlying problem is that people see us up in front and think we’re wonderful or expect us to be. We aren’t living in the freedom of God’s grace so, either we carry our guilt and pretend to be wonderful, or do all sorts of silly things in order to seem wonderful. We start pretending, and this puts us in bondage in all sorts of ways.
In 2 Timothy 1:7 we’re told that God has not given us a spirit of fear – but a spirit of power and love and self-control. Why, then, are we so afraid of so much, and afraid so often?
There are some worship leaders who constantly live in a fear of shame, conflict, the unknown, difficult people, new ideas, being exposed, losing their job, missing God’s will, ruining a service, etc. The list goes on. This prison of fear kills worship leaders. We have to break out of this one so God can use us.
Sometimes God puts us in situations that cause fear because then we can realize where we need to trust him more. If we didn’t have a Savior who had known excruciating fear but persevered all the way to the cross for our sake, we would have reason to be afraid. But Jesus took care of any reason to fear. He is our Redeemer and Mediator, our Father is sovereign and good, and the Holy Spirit is the Comforter. So relax and get out of the prison of fear.
8. Needing approval
Dr. Steve Brown, whose class I attended last week at RTS and who spoke on each of these twelve prisons, gave us a list of six “nevers” for people in ministry.
– Never grovel (kiss up)
– Never apologize when you’re right
– Say no more than twice
– Never lie
– Never pretend to be someone’s mother
– Never take responsibility for something that isn’t your responsibility
I don’t know about you, but each one of those points resonate with me and are incredibly freeing to consider. What is he getting at in each one of these “nevers”? Get rid of your need for everyone’s approval.
Living in the freedom of God’s grace doesn’t mean being a jerk, insensitive, undiscerning, un-pastoral, harsh, arrogant, sharp-tongued, or politically stupid. Not by any means.
What it does mean, though, is that once we know – really know – that because of Jesus Christ we are completely loved, accepted, ransomed, redeemed, covered, and freed, then we don’t need man’s approval in order to feel like we have worth.
I love the line from “Be Thou My Vision”: “riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise, Thou mine inheritance now and always”. What an inheritance we have in Jesus. We don’t need man’s empty praise.
No one told me, when I first started leading worship, how often I would end up come face-to-face with various problems over the years.
Some problems are small: the music stands are broken, the chairs are in disarray, the website hasn’t been updated, the piano tuner needs to get into the church but it’s locked, etc.
Some problems are big: the drummer is disrupting rehearsals with his bad attitude and sometimes vulgar language, a small coalition of longtime members are petitioning the pastor to get your music out of the service, etc.
Worship leaders will face lots of problems over the course of their ministry. They get in trouble when they think they’re the solution to each one of those problems.
Repeat after me: I am not the solution to every problem.
Feel better? You should. That’s what God’s grace will do to you.
There are three more prisons that I’ll share tomorrow, just in case none of these first nine have convicted you yet 🙂