A Tight Grip

I was leading worship for a group of YWAMers this week, and in my first song, I noticed that my left hand had a tight grip on the neck of the guitar.

Poor thing. Didn’t mean to be choking it.

Because I noticed my hand, I could relax it. My grip reflected my heart. I wasn’t relaxed.

It’s hard to play or sing well when you’re not relaxed. Let alone lead well!

Maybe I wasn’t relaxed because…

  • the leader who was initially scheduled was out sick (was it COVID, I wondered?)
  • it’s only the third time that I’ve played with this group and the first that I was leading
  • it was just me and another acoustic guitar
  • some songs were in English; some were in Spanish
  • I was asked to lead the night before, so I had little prep time
  • I was leading the folks in the room and those watching on Zoom
  • I had a misunderstanding in communication with my wife about another scheduling issue that only came to light when I about to drive to the base. Y’all know what that’s like, right?

I had my reasons, and you have yours.

As worship leaders, we’re always carrying so much into a moment of leading. Am I ready? Do I remember the lyrics? Can I hear what I need to hear in the monitors? Am I listening to the Holy Spirit? Will my team remember the transition we rehearsed? What fret was I going to capo on? Am I even qualified to lead worship? Those people in that section of the room aren’t participating - what should I do? Is that my kid I hear yelling?


There was a beautiful season in my life when I spent hours talking with the LORD in my attic. It was empty and dusty. I cleaned off a path on the unfinished hardwoods as I paced back and forth, praying. There was no furniture and nothing to decorate the walls, except for the poster boards to capture key phrases, verses, promises, and learnings.

Sometimes when I’m in prayer or worship, I’ll go to that room in my mind’s eye. And I’ll imagine that whatever is distracting me at the moment is placed in the center of the attic. I’ll envision myself pushing or kicking it to the side, clearing it out of the room and out of my mind.

“I’m just here to meet with God. Nothing else matters. My worth is not on the table.” I’ll remind myself.

“Clear the mechanism,” like Billy Chapel in the movie For the Love of the Game. [https://youtu.be/V8x-o1V1OYI]

The first step in relaxing as you lead is NOTICING that you’re not relaxed. (And even the most laid-back leaders have relocated their tension to an internal location.)

Once you notice it, just have a little talk with Jesus. Ask Him to remind you how great He is and how great His love for you is. Ask Him to help you set your focus on Him. Sing to Him like He’s not far off, but in the room with you.

Losen your grip and relax in His presence.

- Dave