Worship Leader Nightmares

Last night I had one of those dreams – one of those worship leaders nightmares – when the service is starting and the congregation is assembled but I am absolutely unprepared. In this particular dream it was one of our biggest services of the year, Lessons and Carols, and when it came time to sing a song, everything fell apart.

The congregation stared and waited. I was leading from the keyboard and it was too low for me to reach. I tried to play it but I couldn’t. The band was confused. The congregation was murmuring. I asked someone to help me raise the keyboard. They tried to help me and knocked all my music over. The congregation was now totally disengaged. I got set up again and started to try the song, but one of those webpage-like advertisements covered up the chord chart. Yes, that’s right. A digital pop-up ad was all of the sudden on my chord chart. So I stopped and waited. Then tried again. Then mercifully one of our baby girls crying woke me up.

Do you ever get these dreams? If you’re a worship leader I bet you do. They always a bit different but they share the basic horrifying premise: you’re on stage, the congregation is looking at you, and you are failing. You’re not ready, you’re not doing a good job, and every one knows it.

I try not to read too much into dreams. When I dream about a bunny rabbit talking to me in French while we both travel the Mexican coastline in a minivan, I don’t usually try to unpack the prophetic meaning or see what God is trying to tell me. Weird dreams just happen.

But dreams can tell us something about where we’re anxious and where we’re insecure. If you’re a student, you’ll probably have dreams about showing up for your final exam without ever having attended the class. If you’re a doctor, you’ll probably dream about misdiagnosing a patient or making a terrible mistake. Worship leaders don’t have lives at stake or the danger of failing a class, but we do have to “perform” to a certain degree each time we lead. We have to execute certain up-front responsibilities like talking, singing, leading a band, making transitions, etc. And the prospect of showing up without any clothes on or with all of our songs suddenly required to be sung in Chinese rightfully terrifies us.

Here is where I’m going with this: First, if you’re a worship leader, you’re not the only one who gets these kinds of dreams. So be comforted. And maybe leave a comment affirming that this is true for our mutual benefit. Second, every time you have one of these dreams (once a week anyone?), make a default assumption that it’s God’s way of revealing anxiety and stress in you that you need to deal with. Sure, it might be a random dream. But it also might just be God’s way of graciously exposing your fear of man.

God knows your dreams, believe it or not. Some are just your brain processing nonsense. Others might be a bit more telling. My dream last night tells me this: I’m afraid of making a fool of myself. I struggle with this fear on a semi-regular basis. I need God’s peace. I need to repent of my desire to be perfect. I need to trust even more in Jesus. And maybe, after all that, take a ride along the Mexican coast in a minivan. But not with the bunny rabbit. I don’t speak French.

11 thoughts on “Worship Leader Nightmares”

  1. Some of most stressful dreams I have are worship leading dreams. They usually involve being 5 minutes late to start the service and some sort of crazy problem: the sound system has been completely taken apart, all of us trying to play different songs and the team can’t hear me as I try to lead them, etc. My favorite one is the ‘they decide to remodel the stage into a 4 story monstrosity while I’m trying to start the worship set’ scenario.

  2. Yep, I’ve had two worship-gone-wrong dreams that I can remember:

    1) I was late in getting my music together and as I rushed around worship started without me. I think someone just took my place.

    2) A member of the congregation started a song spontaneously, which I had never heard before. Everyone else seemed to know it though and we had words on the projector. As I read the words I realised it was actually a cultic ritual song, but then I was suddenly at the back of the hall and couldn’t stop people singing it. Weird.

  3. Bizarre. I just had one of these dreams a few days ago. And you’re right, the common thread is that I’m making a fool of myself and am mortified by my failure. Thanks for the thoughtful reflection.

    And by the way, regarding that French bunny dream – you might want to get that checked out.

  4. I don’t dream it… but the next best thing. I often wake up thinking I’m late for Sunday morning church. Seriously… 2 or 3 times a week I’ll JUMP out of bed with my heart beating as I try to find my cell phone to ensure it’s indeed Sunday. It’s horrible – especially when this happens on my day off. 😦 Although my experience isn’t an actual dream – I think its the same situation you’re describing because at the core of me is how embarrassed I would be if I were late for Sunday church… how much like a fool I would look like. Thanks for being transparent I always thought it was just me being crazy.

    I think its funny that Fred McKinnon shares your dream of the French bunny driving a minivan in Mexico. Unbelievable. 😉

    On a side note… Jaimee I really like that you add pictures to your blog. Very enjoyable and pulls everything together. I dig that.

      1. Well, no French Bunny in my dreams … but I’ve had the “unprepared” dream. Then again, I still have the dream where I wake up and realize that for the bulk of the quarter, I’ve forgotten to go to some specific college class, or I forget my class schedule, and can’t find the buliding on campus that can give me my class schedule … or … I forget which locker is mine, and the combination … school dreams … still … decades later!

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