Imagine calling yourself a chef. You have libraries of cookbooks…that you’ve actually read. You watch every show on Food Network and have even met some of the stars! You can even guess at the beginning of the show who’s going to get Chopped. You grocery shop and fill your pantries with supplies. You just love the smell of food cooking.
But you have never experienced the moment when the whisk in your tired arm actually begins to make the egg whites form peaks.
Worse, you’ve never fed anyone with the food you’ve dreamt about, but never made.
That’s silly, right? But our imaginary friend has completely missed the core of being a cook.
But follow me for a moment. What is the core of being a worship leader?
- Is it good musicianship?
- Is it pastoring your team?
- Is it discipling the congregation in worship?
- Is it serving your pastor?
- Is it leading great songs?
- Is it being able to “flow with the Spirit?”
- Is it being organized and running efficient, fun rehearsals?
- Is it having great congregational engagement?
- Is it creating inspiring stage designs?
- Is it having the right theology?
- Is it in being “prayed up” to lead worship?
That’s eleven nope’s from me.
Those are good. Great even.
But not core. Not even close.
What is the core?
The core grows day after day.
The core learns the language and ways of God.
The core is shaped by the words of God.
The core is quiet.
The core? Your life with God. Long roads traveled with God in close fellowship, developing intimacy, trust, and being loved.
“The secret is the secret place.” - Dan Wilt
That is the ONLY thing that will give us true authority when we lead worship.
Why do so many of us miss the core?
- Is it insecurity?
- Is it that pastors feel pressure to “have someone do the music each Sunday” (so any Christian musician will do)?
- Is it the commercialization that has converted the lifestyle of worship into a style, a mere genre?
- Is it that not enough of us are saying it?
- Is it that we forgot?
- Is it that nobody ever mentored us?
I don’t know. I suppose we each have our reasons.
Dear friends, what I want more than anything for you is that you spend this whole year in Mary-mode. That you prioritize strengthening your friendship with God simply by the amount of time and energy that you sit as His feet and listen to His voice. “Waste” copious amounts of time just singing to Jesus. Read it in Luke 10:38-42 and ask God how it applies to your habits.
When you play your instrument in that place, I want you to do it with “no intention for presentation.” (This is how my friend Dan Wilt said in this video that was the inspiration for this Fertilizer.)
I think back to hours I’d spend in college in practice rooms. I wasn’t doing my school work, I was building intimacy with God. As I learned to play piano, I learned to love God in song. As I’d prioritize the 8 minutes between classes to just sing Him one more song out of my Integrity’s Hosanna songbook, I built a highway to Zion in my heart.
I long for our worship teams to be filled with those burning hearts who are spending their lifetimes building their lives with God, growing in intimacy, and prioritizing time in His presence for no other reason than Him.
This is what makes a worship leader truly effective.
ps. In case you need just that little push to engage this, here’s Luke 10:38-42:
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”