Do you feel panicky when you’re not as rehearsed as you’d like to be? Do you feel anxious when you see a really full room looking back at you (or empty chairs)? Does your heart start racing before the service is about to start? If you make a mistake (say something dumb, forgot to take your capo off, mess up a song) do your agonize over it for days and replay it in your head?
If you’ve never experienced these sensations while serving as a worship leader, you’re not normal. But if scenarios above describe a regular experience for you as a worship leader, you’re missing the point. God very kindly allows us to feel all of these things – panicky, anxious, nervous, obsessive and embarrassed – so that we cease to seek our confidence in ourselves.
God is all about revealing the idols of our hearts and mercifully taking them away from us. For worship leaders, a common idol is self-sufficiency and self-centeredness. Feelings of anxiety are good for us because they serve a purpose: they remind us of our utter need for God.
The temptation is to think that if you’re panicky, you should have rehearsed more. Or if you’re anxious, then you’re not a good enough worship leader. Or if your heart is racing, you’re not ready for the big leagues. Or if you made a mistake (by the way, every worship leader in the world makes mistakes every single Sunday) that you ruined the service. None of these are true.
Maybe you should have rehearsed less, not more. Maybe you’re a great worship leader and you just need to relax. Maybe God has prepared you for this exact moment and you need to trust in him. Maybe your mistakes are helpful reminders to you (and your team and your congregation) that you’re a real person.
In all cases, and for all worship leaders, God is consistently reminding us that our confidence can’t be in rehearsals, polish, skill, or experience. All of those things are good things and you should pursue them. But none of them should be where we find our confidence. Our confidence is in God.
This might sound trite to you. It’s not. It’s the first building block of worship leading and if this one gets shaky, then everything else does too.
Allow God to humble you. Allow God to remind you that you need Him. Relax on Sunday morning and don’t stress over all the details and transitions and notes and chords and people and pressures. Fix your eyes on Jesus and you won’t sink. Look away from him and you will. He is our confidence!