I have had the opportunity, several times in the past, to lead worship in small groups and churches, either alone, or as part of a worship team. At times I really enjoyed it, and at times I wondered why God had picked me. After all, there were others around with better skills and more outgoing personalities, not to mention, voices that could actually carry further than three feet from where I stood.
When I thought about my role, I often considered choice of songs, corresponding Scripture, applicability and the desired heart response of the congregation, as the important things I could bring to the table. I would pray for the presence of the Holy Spirit and for His working in the hearts and minds of His people. I asked the Father to glorify Himself and to use me in spite of my weakness. I would look at each service as a chance to lead others into worship, through which they could meet with God on a new level.
The Lord’s grace is abundant and He is so patient with us as we learn His ways and His heart. I am thankful for the many opportunities He has given me to express praise to Him publicly, and for His gracious acceptance of the worship I have given. However, it is becoming clear to me now, that the focus and intent I have had, has not always been pure.
First, there has been the issue of pride. Every time I have compared or contrasted myself and my abilities to another, and wished to be as vocally and musically sharp as them, I have rejected my own essence–that with which God has blessed me. A humble person can be who God has made them, knowing that dependence on Him is their only hope. A proud person seeks those things which will affirm their worth in the presence of others. I have discovered, that as opposed to what I used to think, many wonderfully talented and skilled people are beautiful examples of humility. It doesn’t matter what we can or cannot do. What truly matters, is whether we have been able to accept what God has placed within us, and offer it back to Him with a spirit of thanksgiving.
Second, I think back on some of the stressful times I have had “preparing for worship.” Can we, in fact, prepare to worship? Of course, if that includes asking God to “create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit in me.” But preparing song lists, Scriptures and “themes” for our corporate times of worship would actually be considered “preparing for a worship time.” Nothing wrong with that–just that it will not leave us any more prepared for worship. Only the Holy Spirit can do that, and only when He has been invited to do so. Then, under His guidance, we can lead others to worship in spirit and in truth.
So, this week I begin preparing to lead others in worship at a brand new church gathering. I pray that as I seek the Lord, He will reveal to me what it is to live a life of worship. I am excited about different forms of worship–songs, scripture readings, meditation, art, poetry, spoken praise, banners, dance, etc… Yet, somehow, I know that there is more.
This morning I can’t shake the phrase, “It’s not how you worship, it’s who.” If I desire to lead others to worship Christ, I need to know Him intimately. I need to be able to demonstrate what He means to me. I need to know His names and their meanings. How desperately I long for Him to reveal more of His plan and power to me! How greatly I need His peace to flood over me so that others see it and want to know where it comes from! His greatness is so vast, His character so immense that I run out of words. Yet, as part of living a life of worship, I need to use the words I do know, to describe Him to others.
All of this being said, my greatest need is perhaps to rest in my Father’s love for me and stop striving to be a “good worshipper.” If I change that to “God worshipper,” I have transferred my focus to where it ought to be.