Liberating King: An Interview with Stephen Miller (And A Giveaway Too)

1A few months ago at the Doxology and Theology conference in Louisville, I met Stephen Miller and enjoyed getting to know him a bit. Stephen is a worship leader, recording artist, and a song writer, not to mention a husband to Amanda, a father to five children, and a pastor. For many years Stephen led worship at The Journey in St. Louis. He’s now the worship pastor at Real Life Church in Austin.

This week Stephen released his latest album “Liberating King“. You can read a great review of the album on WorshipLinks here. I wanted you to get to know him a bit better, so I asked him to answer a few questions about worship leading and ministry.

JB: Tell us a bit of your story: how you came to put your trust in Jesus, and how you got into worship leading.

SM: I grew up in church. My mom had me there every time the doors were open. I went down to pray a prayer at a Vacation Bible School when I was 8, but I don’t know that I really connected intimately with my belief in Christ until I was a sophomore in high school. God just met me in my bedroom one day as I was listening to this song that talked about Jesus dying for me and I was just wrecked out. I fell on my face there in my bedroom and said, “God I’m yours. Whatever you want. Here I am.” Didn’t think that would be worship leading. I wasn’t into church music at that time. It was all what I call Hand Wavey Guy, leading a choir and orchestra and I just wasn’t into that as a high school kid. But later that year I went to a camp and saw band lead worship for the first time, and I remember thinking, “Maybe that’s what God’s calling me to do.” So my Junior year, my youth pastor asked if I would start leading our student ministry in worship each week, and God just sort of had his hand on it and it grew from there.

JB: What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made as a worship leader?

SM: Man, I wish I could count them all. I think not knowing the people I was leading is huge. I would try to impose my world view on a room of people who just weren’t on the same page. Rather than meeting them where they are, I would just get angry and frustrated and think it was all their fault. But in the end it was a leadership problem for me. God was saying, “Be patient. Stay faithful. Trust me.”

JB: What are three main things worship leaders should always strive to do, regardless of their context?

SM: I think so much of the modern worship leader’s role is a song leader. So choosing songs that present the Gospel in a God-centered, clear and concise manner, then striving to sing those songs as excellently as you can so that as far as it’s up to you, there is no distraction from the glory of God. You want people to see him and respond to his majesty. So I think the third thing is to ensure that your own prayer life and worship life is active and vibrant, and that you are growing in your own knowledge of God each day, as well as walking in the obedience of faith that leads people to worship off the platform.

JB: You wrote a book a few years ago called “Worship Leaders: We Are Not Rock Stars”. How can worship leaders battle the temptations of fame and popularity

SM: Fame and applause are intoxicating, man. They’re like well-trained assassins waiting to take you out. We all love attaboys and attagirls. It’s just part of who we are. But I think that the way to combat that is firstly to realize that your greatest identity is not in your functional role as a worship leader, but as a redeemed and adopted child of God. That you’re a worshiper before you’re a worship leader. When you practice that private life of intimacy with God, it does change you. When you fill your mind and mouth and memory with the Gospel – even when no one is looking – it grounds you and centers you. And then I think having people around you who know you and can help keep you on track and encourage you when you’re distracted or down – that’s so key. That’s the beauty of the local church family too I think.

JB: If you had to summarize the calling of a worship leader in one sentence, what would you say?

SM: Be faithful to love the people God puts in front of you by giving them a huge picture of who God is and what he has done, so that they can respond in worship.

Thanks, Stephen, for your heart to see God’s people sing to him and delight in him!

GIVEAWAY INFO:
If you’d like to get a free copy of Stephen’s new album, leave a comment below. On Friday (5/22) at noon I’ll choose three random commenters and they’ll get a code to download the album for free.

GIVEAWAY UPDATE:
The three winners have all been emailed a free download link. Thanks everyone!

15 thoughts on “Liberating King: An Interview with Stephen Miller (And A Giveaway Too)

  1. Steven R. Robertson May 20, 2015 / 11:33 am

    Thanks, Jamie. I thought Worship Leaders, We Are Not Rock Stars was excellent. Both of you gents have been quite helpful and encouraging to me!

    • Jamie Brown May 27, 2015 / 4:17 pm

      Steven, check your inbox for a free download code.

  2. Dave May 20, 2015 / 12:09 pm

    This hit home… Thankful I read this today.

    “SM: Be faithful to love the people God puts in front of you by giving them a huge picture of who God is and what he has done, so that they can respond in worship.”

  3. Dave May 20, 2015 / 12:28 pm

    I’m really thankful for reading this today… Especially this part:

    “SM: Be faithful to love the people God puts in front of you by giving them a huge picture of who God is and what he has done, so that they can respond in worship.”

  4. Jessica May 20, 2015 / 1:52 pm

    This is my comment.

    • Jamie Brown May 27, 2015 / 4:17 pm

      Jessica, check your inbox for a free download code.

  5. Jonathon Isaac May 20, 2015 / 2:10 pm

    It’s always a good reminder for me that there can’t be a disconnect between what happens in my own personal life and walk with God, and what happens in my role as a worship leader. It has been a trying month this month and this was a much needed word in my life. Thank you Jamie and Stephen.

  6. myaeger May 20, 2015 / 3:09 pm

    “Be faithful to love the people God puts in front of you by giving them a huge picture of who God is and what he has done, so that they can respond in worship.” – Stephen Miller

    This is great!

  7. andrew May 20, 2015 / 7:54 pm

    I saw a good review of Liberating King this week on Aaron Armstrongs blog.

    Appreciate what you are doing, Jamie, to highlight the true goal of worship.

    • Jamie Brown May 27, 2015 / 4:18 pm

      Andrew, check your inbox for a free download code.

  8. Michael May 20, 2015 / 9:11 pm

    Nice post. Always enjoy reading your blog.

  9. Rob May 21, 2015 / 3:57 pm

    I love his contemporization of the liturgy in his context. It helped me include some very informal stuff into my church’s service.

  10. samm May 22, 2015 / 5:24 am

    Such a great reminder, thanks Stephen & Jamie!

  11. Conrad May 26, 2015 / 3:38 pm

    As worship leaders we’re mandated to take the brethren into the “secret” place of intimacy with God that we are at in our personal lives; if not, we’re leading songs, not worship. It’s our responsibility therefore to pursue God’s presence with fervour or as Tommy Tenney puts it, to be “God Chasers”.

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