Did you know that the microphone you sing into each week amplifies more than just your voice? It also amplifies your heart. You can lead the most well-rehearsed, polished, carefully-selected set of songs in the world, but if you’re leading from a place of frustration or irritation or pushiness, then that’s going to come across loud and strong. This should give all of us worship leaders cause for concern!
But this shouldn’t be a surprise to us. In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul said that even if he could “speak in the tongues of men and angels” but didn’t “have love”, then all he would be is a “noisy gong or a clanging cymbal”. He went on to say that even if he was full of all sorts of prophetic powers, but didn’t have love, he would be “nothing”.
That’s some serious stuff. Think about that. Able to speak in tongues of men and angels? That’s pretty impressive. Full of prophetic powers and able to understand all mysteries? I would say that’s awfully impressive too. But Paul warns that all of this impressive stuff is canceled out if love isn’t present.
If a worship leader isn’t leading with a heart of love for the congregation, he runs the risk of coming across like a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. Do you enjoy listening to noisy gongs or clanging cymbals for an extended amount of time? No. And that’s the point.
How can we lead worship with a heart of love for the congregation?
Not by faking it, that’s for sure. Not by trying harder to smile more and be nicer to the cranky person who always finds time to complain to you five minutes before the service starts. And it’s certainly not by trying to muster up more love from within yourself.
The answer is, of course, that we need Jesus if we want to have a heart of love for the congregation. We know he loved the church so much that he “gave himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:2). His heart is a heart of love. And one of the amazing gifts of the Holy Spirit is that he “pours God’s love into our hearts” (Romans 5:5). We don’t have to muster anything up. We have to run to Jesus each Sunday and ask him to fill us with his Spirit.
Only then will our worship leadership be able to be characterized this way:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
Those are the characteristics that will bless your congregation and make you a more effective worship leader. Jesus will put those qualities in you, and those qualities will be amplified by your microphone, not by your own trying harder, but by the power of his Spirit.