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Performer versus Worship Leader

Updated: Jun 4, 2022

Church musician… soloist. Praised, admired, and envied… primarily by people who perhaps are not gifted in the area of musical abilities. For those who have the gift, playing an instrument or singing to a crowd comes naturally. The adrenaline flows whenever they are on stage and they thrive on being the center of attention. Pride oftentimes may block the ability of focus and the purpose of glorifying the Lord, therefore, renders inoperative. It is so easy to forget why one has taken center-stage – to lead in the worship experience of the church body as a whole. Needless to say, God has the ability to bring glory upon Himself no matter the conditions of the heart or underlying motivations, but He has a whole lot more to work with when the musician or singer remains focused upon his/her need for Christ and desires to honor and glorify the Lord through their music.

The big day had finally arrived. I was singing my first solo for the morning service at our home church which has approximately 5,000 members. The services are televised and I knew that several thousands of people could possibly be watching me that morning. Oh… how to wear my hair?!? The long, red flowing locks would look nice down; but they would look so much more elegant should I put them up in a French twist. My dress would not matter so much because as a choir member, I was required to wear a navy robe. What earrings should I wear? Even though I rarely painted my fingernails, I contemplated upon whether or not to give them a touch of color. Decisions,  decisions. These preparations were causing anxiety to build so I went to the Lord in prayer. Afterwards, I felt broken… ashamed… full of selfish pride. It was not me that the Lord desired for people to notice – it was Him! All of these details regarding my appearance were taking my focus off of my Lord! I approached His throne of grace once more, seeking His forgiveness, with a repentant spirit. My soul’s desire was to glorify Him not only with my vocal abilities but through the words of the song I had chosen as well, The Lord honored my willingness to serve Him in this way, and lives were touched and people were moved to applause that day – not because I was that spectacular in a performance, but because I had chosen to lead the congregation in worship for those brief minutes.

Like most musicians and singers, I do get a thrill from being on stage. I seem to thrive in front of crowds. I have a tendency to perform… because that is what I was trained to do while studying vocal performance in college. My professors were to teach me to shape my abilities and God-given talents into something beautiful to soothe others and provide pleasure for their ears. What my professors did not teach me was how to have my heart right with God so that I could minister to people.  After all, isn’t that what we are called to do? As a Christian, this is crucial. Through years of resistance and spurts of immaturity, the Lord taught me the importance of being focused upon Him through my music. I realized more and more the people yearn to be uplifted and encouraged by those who are genuine – not simply by those who have been taught to entertain. As worship leaders in churches making up the body of Christ, we are not there to entertain or perform. God has puts us where we are to minister to people through music. It is easy to entertain or manipulate others. It takes a lot more self-evaluation and an intimate relationship with the Lord, however, to be a vessel useful to God. As musicians and singers, may it be our prayer that we are never accused of performing in the church, but may we be recognized as being worship leaders for the body of Christ.

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