How to Stop Faking It as a Worship Leader

On a long enough timeline, all of us feel like temporary fakes. Sometimes the feeling lingers.

I listened to Pete Scazzaro’s podcast episode called “How to Teach and Preach from the Inside Out.” I immediately resonated with it as a worship leader wanting an enduringly fruitful life of ministry.

Pete gives us six "handles" on how to do this to be "Emotionally Healthy" Worship Leaders. I love that he asks them as questions.

1. Am I leading worship FOR Jesus out of a life of being WITH Jesus?
"We bring who we are from the platform. Who we are is way more important than what we sing and say. We cannot give what we do not possess. The depth of our life as a [worshiper] is what we can bring our congregation. The state that we are in is the state that we bring to our people." I can’t lead what I’m not living.

2. Am I present to myself AND the people in the room?
"I want to see them and love them." Do I remember the songs I led the last several weeks? Maybe. Do I remember the faces of the individuals I led? Hmmm. If I’m so wrapped up in the mechanics of the music that I miss both the opportunity to worship personally and to engage with the people I’m leading, that’s terrible!

3. Am I allowing the lyrics and scripture to intersect with my family of origin and culture?
The truths we are proclaiming don’t come to us in a vacuum. The context is where I came from, what I experienced, who I’ve become. Now it may sound extreme to consider your family of origin (and all the pain and delight that comes with that) as you think about leading worship, but it will be extremely powerful!

Think of how much more grounded, human, and relatable your leading will be. When I connect to all those things that are "under the waterline of my iceberg," it’ll deeply connect with those I’m leading. Don’t shy away from it or ignore it. It’s not a call to be messy or inappropriate. It’s a call to be honest and real. And redeemed.

4. Am I leading out of vulnerability and weakness?
Sheesh, man! That statement just made someone shiver, another person scoff, and someone else say, "yes!" We all have our models - people we’ve seen leading worship that we try to emulate.

It’s one of the unintentional casualties of all the worship videos we see online. Every once-in-a-great-while, we’ll see vulnerability and weakness. But it’s almost always a strong showing, a perfect performance, and a high-water-mark moment. And why shouldn’t it be? Unless you’re scrolling through WorshipFails on Instagram.

But what is all that perfection teaching us?

5. Am I allowing the scripture in the songs to transform me?
"If it’s not transforming me, will it transform my congregation?" We must spend time with these songs and these scriptures and cry out to the LORD to transform me, to make our minds new!

6. Am I connecting the worship set to people’s long-term formation?
Now you see why I wanted to share this with you. He goes deep…and long! The worship set isn’t a filler. It’s a tool for spiritual formation! We’re not leading to entertain people or simply encourage them. We’re not leading to impress people or to feel good about ourselves.

We are leading to disciple worshipers. Period! "The church exists to teach people how to live in the new family of Jesus."

How will my congregation be more well-formed as worshipers after this set of five songs? Feel the weight of that assignment? We are to come alongside the rest of the leadership in formation - Galatians 4:19 - we labor until Christ is formed in you.

Pete ends the podcast right-sizing preaching in the discipleship of the church. It’s important, but it’s discipleship-light. Jesus preached to the crowds but always had His twelve and His three. What energy am I investing in my team, in my leaders, in ways that several songs on a Sunday were never intended to be able to do?

I’ll leave you with that question.

-Dave Helmuth
(purchase my book, "Worship Fertilizer: (the first hundred)" HERE)

Ps. I tried to put anything Pete said directly in quotes, but I adjusted several phrases or concepts to fit our context. Either way, the source of all this was his podcast.