This post was originally published here and has been republished with permission.
I’ve heard a common statement recently. It goes something like this, “That worship leader is too self-centered” or “That worship leader is doing nothing but putting on a show.”
I agree with the premise that we need to get the focus off of ourselves and onto God. However, I’m worried about the response this causes from pastors and the congregation.
A few requests I’ve heard are:
While there are helpful tools in all of these suggestions, they can become more like rules. These expectations have suffocated worship leaders inside of a little box and we wonder why it all feels generic. I’m more concerned about worship leaders falling in love with Jesus and learning how to lead people to worship Jesus than trying to fix their “pride” issues. I don’t know about you, but I’m done trying to gauge someone’s pride level based on how they look while leading worship. I’d rather focus on my issues of only being able to focus on Jesus when the mood is just right.
Here are my suggestions for pastors on how to treat your worship leaders/musicians:
Worship leaders, don’t be afraid to be yourself. God created you to worship Him. He doesn’t want everyone to worship Him like Chris Tomlin. He wants you to worship the way you worship. When you’re on stage, worship an audience of One. But don’t forget to lead the others to worship as well. Also, while I’m at it, leading in front of thousands of people isn’t a sin. If the Lord calls you to lead the nations in worship, don’t let anyone stop you. If you have a dream in the will of God, don’t let anyone stop you. That being said, not everyone is called to a big audience. Whether you lead a lot of people or a small congregation, keep your heart alive in God and in music and don’t quit.
Brandon and his wife Morgan live in Kansas City serving at the International House of Prayer. Brandon is a full time worship leader and electric guitar player. He has led worship for about 7 years and has played guitar for 9. He also travels to play guitar, lead worship, and equip musicians across the U.S. Brandon is from Tallahassee, Fl and moved to Kansas City in 2011 to join the prayer movement at IHOPKC.
“There are inescapable cravings in the core of every human heart that cannot be ignored, denied or pacified: they must be satisfied.” -Mike Bickle
Fundamental to every living person are longings that transcend culture, religion, or lifestyle. These longings are given by God, and only He can fulfill them. They are what drive every pursuit and every motive in life.
Take a quick glance at American culture and you’ll soon realize that everyone wants to be ‘Liked‘. From social media, to entertainment, this American generation wants to be heard and enjoyed for who they are. I believe this culture echoes a powerful longing in our hearts: the longing to be enjoyed.
While human companionship can provide a great sense of support and security, this longing to be enjoyed is rooted in a desire to be enjoyed by God Himself. When one’s life are marked by the enjoyment of God, there becomes a pillar of strength inside that isn’t easily swayed by the insecurities and opinions of others. This longing is foundational to our identity in Christ (1 John 4:19).
Jesus said, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” (John 15:9, emphasis mine) The measure with which the Father loves Jesus is the standard with which Jesus loves us. Let that sink in. How much does the Father love Jesus? It’s immeasurable. But Jesus goes one step further, and later says “that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.” (John 17:23, emphasis mine) That means that both the Father and Jesus love you as much as the Father loves Jesus.
Would you say that Jesus is God’s favorite person? What does the God who is love feel towards Jesus, the God who is love? Because that’s what God feels towards Jesus, I believe we can all view ourselves as God’s favorite. God likes you because He likes Jesus; enjoys talking with you because He enjoys talking with Jesus; and hearing your worship. Imagine if we presented ourselves to God in worship as His favorite.
The Apostle John was so confident in this concept that he referred to himself as “the one Jesus loved”.
How far would you go to protect someone you love? Would you take a punch, take a bullet—would you die for them? Understanding the reason why Jesus died on the Cross will help convince us of God’s enjoyment over us. The Bible says “…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross…” (Heb. 12:2). What was the joy set before Him? Part of His joy was securing salvation for man-kind.
The greatest labor of love that ever happened was possible because Jesus pursued the greatest imaginable joy, namely, the joy of being exalted to God’s right hand in the assembly of a redeemed people: “For the joy that was set before him [he] endured the cross!” –John Piper
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5
I am sure that we have all heard the great commandment from Deuteronomy 6:5 to love the Lord with all of our heart, mind and strength. Throughout the bible this command is continually held up as the pinnacle of what the Christian life is to be centered around (along with loving our neighbors as ourselves). Jesus confirmed this in the Gospels when He answered the questioning of the scribes in Mark 12:28-34.
Loving God with our hearts and minds seems very practical. Loving usually always has to do with matters of the heart and we all know about the unseen world of our minds that must be continually reigned in and governed to love the Lord. But what does it mean to love the Lord with all of our strength or might?
A lot of people treat their time in the Word as an item on their to–do list that needs to be checked off. “I gotta get to the next chapter so I can be caught up on my Bible reading plan,” some might hurriedly mutter to themselves. What causes us to be preoccupied with simply finishing our Bible Reading Plan, and how can we better approach the subject of reading the Word?
Jesus warned the Jews in His day, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (Jn. 5:39) The Word is what displays God’s character and nature so that we are driven to talking with, and encountering God.
This post is for everyone, but especially those who feel trapped in their own sin and shame. It’s for those who enter worship on Sundays with a heavy heart, feeling unworthy to approach God because of their failure and making promises to God “to do better” that they know they can’t keep. This post is for those who are struggling to understand how God could love them when they keep asking for forgiveness.
What do you do when you’ve found yourself confronted with the reality of sin in your life? More specifically, what is a healthy way to repent and move forward?
The question what are we created for has stuck with man-kind since the beginning of time. Our obvious meaning for existence is to glorify God. The Westminster Shorter Catechism states it best: “What is the chief end of man?” And, in response, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” They understood that glorifying God and enjoying Him were one in the same. What if enjoying God was the greatest way to glorify Him?
In my own experience, I had previously viewed enjoying God as an added bonus to the true duty of a believer: rigorous obedience to Christian duties (eg. praying, evangelizing, serving), even if those duties are emotionless, loveless. But what does Jesus say? “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (Jn. 14:23). Love (delight) and obedience are directly related. Delight is not just a spin-off of obedience to God, but it is part of it. The strongest type of obedience is affection-based obedience.
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