When I was in Jamaica I assumed the role of a worship leader. It was something that I had practiced for and aspired to. Leading worship is an experience that is thrilling and joyful. It also can be nerve-wracking. There are so many questions that come to mind when I have to lead worship. Which songs should I choose? How should they be played? What’s the best order for praise leading into worship? Even in the midst of a set I have questions. How do I transition in to the next song? Will it become monotonous if I sing the chorus again? My mind also goes to the other musicians. Are they following me well? Are there enough cues so they know where I’m heading? Then to the participants. How is their worship experience? Are they ready for the next song? I think I (or another musician) made a mistake; did they catch that?
As you can see, it can be hard to detach from the technicalities and just worship. Perhaps this is because I’m still a rookie. I also have found the importance of not always focusing on my own agenda.
On one occasion, I got frustrated in collaborating with another musician on the songs to do for a home group. I wanted to do some songs from Sunday morning worship, ones that were fresh and exciting, instead of the familiar ones we’ve done before. Part of the problem was I had been neglecting to make lyric sheets so those at the home group could follow. I kept thinking “We’ve sung these songs at church many times. They’re easy to pick up.” But then I thought of all the songs that I still don’t know by heart yet. I realized that this couldn’t be about me. I wanted everyone at the home group to be participants and not spectators. If having lyric sheets and doing some of the more familiar songs would help, that’s what I would do. In addition to this I also found that my communication during worship also needed to be sharpened. I want everyone to know where I’m going and I especially want the musicians to be familiar with how the song should sound musically and create highs and lows, for lack of better words.
I also learned that I must be available to help someone else. Recently, at the end of a home group, it was time for the food. I had just made my plate and began eating when someone had ask me to come in the living room and play a song. Someone was receiving prayer and ministry. My first reaction was to finish my plate, but when I was asked again I became convicted. I left my plate and went to play while prayer and deliverance took place. I realized that God needed me to put away my own agenda. I can’t be selfish. God was calling me to help someone in their time of need.
My time as a worship leader has been a continual learning process. Being an effective leader means helping those that are following. I want the worship to create an atmosphere of openness for everyone to commune with God, to be reminded of who he is, what he’s done for us, and become a stronger son or daughter in him. I also learned that as a leader I need to be led by God. Sometimes he has a different plan, like the one I just described and he needs me to follow him, especially if it means the difference between someone gaining freedom in Christ or remaining in bondage.
“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
Philippians 2:3-4 NKJV
God is giving me a heart for worship, not just for me but for others. I want to be used by him so someone else can break free and receive the same healing, restoration, and hope that set me free.