Thursday, May 1, 2014

The One Lesson Every Worship Leader Must Learn

Lists are a popular medium now for communicating information, so I have composed this comprehensive list of all one thing every worship leader must learn. 

Not that there aren’t other helpful practical, or theological bits of information we could stand to learn, but this is the one lesson
that will influence how we respond to every other lesson, and which will inform every decision we will make in worship ministry for the rest of our mortal lives. Every worship leader will learn this lesson, either the easy way (like from reading and heeding this article) or the hard way (like how I learned in the following story), because God wants us to, and because His people need us to.

It began just like any other Sunday morning in Escondido, CA. I was running a few minutes late, sure, but other than that all was well with the world. Pre-service rehearsal went off without a hitch. The service began with joyful song and smiling faces - all of them, every blessed one, looking… right at me! They were, I promise. It was unnerving.

As we neared the halfway point of the last song in the set I finally decided to try and adjust the height of my microphonebetween strums. It had been set just about a half inch too high and I had spent the majority of the set thus far almost on my tippy toes, like some tippy-toe-standing weirdo. So I reached up and gently pulled it downward, equal with my presently singing lips.

It worked! I had pulled off the much-attempted, often-failed mid-strum-mic-adjustment, and boy was I proud of my bad self, but as I released my grip on the microphone to continue strumming, my finger grazed the mic, sending it swinging out toward the congregation. 

Horror! If it’s pointed toward them, and not me, then they will hear them and not me! And it just looked unprofessional, right? So, I quickly recovered the prodigal microphone and restored it to its rightful place in front of my face.

Done. 

Back to strum... and -- there it goes again. It was as if someone in the front row was packing a powerful magnet for the express purpose of humiliating poor me, so that every time I pulled it back in it would magically swing back out, making me look like a fool, or something even more foolish than a fool. 

I had that feeling you get when, as you try to open the passenger door on a friend’s car they pull forward just a few feet, and then do the same thing over and over until you just want to jump in front of the car because your sense of self-worth is sitting in that car, just out of reach, pointing and laughing at you along with your jerk-face of a friend.

After the third time retrieving my wandering microphone it finally stayed in place. Relief flooded through my senses as I attempted to rejoin the band. This is where the real lesson begins, folks. Instead of making glorious, beautiful contact with those patiently-waiting guitar strings my pick, succumbing to peer pressure from the microphone no doubt, rebelled. It left my hand like a ninja star (or “shuriken”) from the skilled hand of a trained ninja, sailing effortlessly past the microphone stand, past the monitor, and behind the shrub.

As every seasoned worship leader knows, if you drop the pick just continue without it, right?

Well, being a worship leader of no less than five years at the time, that is exactly what I did. Except I didn’t. Instead of just finishing the song – the song which was soon to be ending  by strumming with my fingers and letting the other three instruments carry it, I instinctively dove beneath the microphone, around the monitor, and under the shrub, recovering the wayward pick like it was the Pearl of Great Price. 

I got back to my place, pick in hand, just in time to hear the rest of the worship team finish out the song.

This was a Presbyterian church, people. The pastoral team sits on the chancel behind the worship team, so the pastors had all gotten a front seat view of this whole fiasco, from behind!

I sat in the pew, ignoring everything the pastor said for the rest of the service, shame coursing through my being like some thingthat courses through some other thing. I felt absolutely worthless. What a dumb, rookie move. 

I shouldn’t have done that. 

I should have done this instead. 

I this. I that. 

I-I-I

And then it hit me - He hit me. I’m not going to say it was an audible voice, but the message I got was this: 

“You are worthless, but it’s not about you. It’s about Me, and I give worth to the worthless.”

It is not about you, worship leader. It is about Him. 

Any worth you may have, any value, any talent, any gifting, any notorietyor fame, is only because the One who is Worth, who possesses infinite value, has seen fit to gift it to you. So, when you fail – and you will – when you mess up in front of tens, hundreds, or thousands of people, realize this one truth, you may feel worthless, but it’s not about you anyway. 

It is all about Him, and He gives worth to the worthless.
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