Some “worship leaders” are more worship than leader like some “young adults” are more young than adult. And some “worship leaders” are more leader than worship like some “young adults” are more adult than young.
What do I mean? Well, I see it as a dual role.
On one hand, at your core, you must be a worshiper of God. Being wholly given to Another. Live a life of intimacy before the Father. Having the Psalm 84:5 “highways to Zion” in your heart, able to worship at the drop of a hat. Adept in using music transcendently.
On the other hand, this is not your prayer closet. You must love people enough to desire to lead them somewhere. Be growing in influence. Know how to connect the dots. Be comfortable in activating people. Speak prophetically. Compose your thoughts succinctly. Communicate passionately.
So, where are you on the spectrum of:
worship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . leader?
If you need to grow as a worshiper, here’s what you can do:
Be wholly given to Another
You certainly can’t lead people into something you’ve never experienced. So, just show up on your own and worship God. Grow that relationship. Whether it’s at home or in the church sanctuary, spend time giving yourself to God through musical prayer.
Live a life of intimacy before the Father
“If you don’t have a prayer time, you won’t have a prayer life” I heard a pastor once say. Cultivate a posture of trust by spending time in silence before God. Journal and ask Him to speak to you, to reveal Himself to you.
Have the Psalm 84:5 “highways to Zion” in your heart, able to worship at the drop of a hat
“How blessed is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion.” Pair this with the prophet Isaiah charge in 62:10: "Walk out of the gates. Get going! Get the road ready for the people. Build the highway. Get at it! Clear the debris, hoist high a flag, a signal to all peoples!" Ask God to show you the debris, standing between you and pure, unmixed devotion.
Be adept in using music transcendently.
Music must move me. Say that to yourself again. The beauty and transcendence that God wove into the DNA chain of music is amazing. Learn the art and craft of finding the “thin places” between heaven and earth available to us through music.
If you need to grow as a leader, here’s what you can do:
Love people enough to desire to lead them somewhere.
The “love chapter” sits in between 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 for a strategic reason. My passion and love for God drives my worship life. But my leadership life is driven by my love for people. In fact, read 13 and replace “a worship leader” for the word “love” and ask the Lord to shape your heart. Every time you lead, ask Him for more love for those you’re leading.
Grow in influence.
This doesn’t mean that you’re personality needs to change into a more charismatic one. It means that you’re seeking ways of having a greater personal impact when you’ve been given the opportunity to make a difference. Titles are given, influence is earned. Be humble and teachable as you earn it.
Know how to connect the dots.
Meaning gets lost. Often because it wasn’t translated or pointed out. On Sunday, I stopped the congregation after singing “Let the King of my heart be the fountain I drink from; oh He is my song.” I invited us to “drink” then and there, before continuing on, by praying and asking Jesus what it looked like for us to drink this morning. However you do it, the idea is to help people find meaning in it.
Be comfortable in activating people.
This is a worship leader’s main function. Help people see what the Father is doing and encouraging them to simply participate. It’s a big challenge. But remembering who is in the room (Moms, Dads, Teens, Grandparents, teachers, truckers, Christian Chicken Salespeople, you know - everyday people) is essential in lovingly moving people into the purposes of God. And because worship is a response to the revelation of God, our main job is to help enable the revelation, not the response.
We declare the emotion and heart of God. I don’t mean we have to give a word of knowledge or a prophetic word. Shoot, your theology might not even have room for that! But get to know the God revealed in scripture. Share what you sense in prayer. Go beyond acting a speaking that you’re just up there because you were on the schedule. Act like God has purpose in you personally for this moment.
Compose your thoughts succinctly.
The sermon comes later. When you share something, get to the point. Think it through beforehand. Give it your best 20 seconds.
I’m sorry, but please don’t apologize. :) Say what you’re saying like you mean it. (And, while we’re at it, play what you’re playing like you mean it!) And not just because it gives you a better chance of actually being heard (how often do you miss what the worship leader says because the audio guy didn’t catch it in time?), but again, you’re influencing, you’re leading!
You can do this! Whether you’re more leader than worship or more worship than leader, God has called us to grow and walk forward together.