The Dangerous Pull of Up-front Ministry and the Upward Pull of the Spirit

While I was on vacation in southern California with my wife, her parents, and our two little girls who really really fell in love with the beach, I had the privilege of spending a Saturday morning with the worship team at my Father-in-law’s church and leading worship with them the next morning at their 11:00am service.

When I was preparing for my time with them I sensed that God wanted us to share honestly about the difficulties of ministry so that (1) we could encourage and pray for one another, and (2) we could avoid the trap of trying to push through these difficulties by our own strength.

It turns out that, at least for this group, sharing honestly was not a problem. Maybe that’s a southern Californian thing, but in Northern Virginia it can be a bit difficult to really get to know people. Each member of the team shared how they had come to trust in Jesus, what brought them to this particular church, how long they had been in ministry, etc. I shared my story and particularly some of the joys and sorrows I’ve experienced in ministry so far.

In my experience, serving in up-front worship ministry presents many opportunities to become prideful, or discouraged, or frustrated, or hardened, or battered, or maybe all of these combined. Yes, there are many joys and it can be very rewarding. But for many worship leaders and worship team members, after serving for several years, we can get burned out, lose our heart for the congregation, get stuck in a rut, have a long list of things we tried that never worked, and so on. This isn’t the experience of every worship leader out there, but I think many worship leaders experience extended “low points” and wonder if it’s normal.

Yes, it’s normal but God has given us his Holy Spirit to pull us up out of the ruts and discouragement and anger and hard-heartedness to point us to Jesus and fill us with power. Jesus said to the disciples in Acts 1:8 that they would “receive power” when the Holy Spirit came upon them. He called the Holy Spirit the “helper” three times in book of John. We’ve been given power and we’ve been given a helper in the Holy Spirit and we need both!

I mentioned in my last post that I want to spend some time on this blog focusing on the Holy Spirit. After one or two guitar tutorial videos this week I’d like to start. Worship leaders who attempt to do their jobs without the help and the power of the Holy Spirit will find out very quickly that the dangerous pull of up-front ministry is too much for their flesh to handle. In the words of Paul in Ephesians 5:18, “be filled with the Spirit!” He fills us up, and he pulls us up, to point us to Jesus so we can point our congregations to him as well.

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