When worship is...death to me
....death to me
For a long time I didn’t want to be involved in worship, because I didn’t want it to be about me. I didn’t want to be standing up there, self-conscious, wondering if I sounded great or terrible. I didn’t like the fact that during those times my mind was more bothered about myself than God. So I stepped back. I didn’t look for opportunities to be involved and when moving to Peru I didn’t get involved at the start for that reason.
I remember telling a pastor friend who led worship my reasons when he asked me why I didn’t get involved. He laughed kindly and said: ‘We alll have to face that! It is always going to be a challenge!’
That made me think that perhaps, when I did get involved in worship again in the future, it was not going to be something that had disappeared. Because let’s face it, we all desire to be looked at and appreciated and encouraged.
So if all worship leaders have to face that, how can we be true worshippers and yet still lead others? How can we be up front and seen yet encouraging others to focus on Him, not us?
Firstly, I realised that there is a big difference between temptation and sin. It is not wrong to be tempted to make worship about myself. It is wrong to make that my aim. Even to try and impress God. Because that is just silly. One Sunday I was struggling with making sure a particular song wasn’t becoming about how well I could sing it, and so I asked God to break into my heart and humble me and give me His perspective. He showed me a little ant flexing his muscles and trying to impress me and showed me show funny I would find that. He reminded me then of how insignificant, from a God eternal perspective, my ability to worship was. And just realising that God does care about my worship - that I am so small and insignificant compared to Him but yet He does take notice, helped me align my priorities in my mind again. Sometimes now, when I am tempted to think about me, I still think about that little show-off ant!
So what are some steps I have taken to die to myself as I lead worship?
1) Spend lots of time in personal worship.
When there is no one to impress, there I can focus on God and learn how to worship him in a genuine way. I can try out different things and see if they work without worrying who is watching or judging me. I can learn to recognise that place of peace and focusing on Him. Even in my own personal worship times I have to make sure that I am focusing on Him sometimes, but at least the other pressures are off.
2) Look outwards towards others
I have tried to deliberately encourage, put forward and give opportunities to the rest of the worship group. Rather than pushing my own agenda or preferences on them, I try to offer any suggestions I have humbly. I have also tried to give encouraging feedback to the others and look for ways to build them up rather than myself.
3) Recognise a group goal
Similar to number 2, but I try and keep in sight the overall vision of the group, not my own personal goals. It is not about me singing or playing a particular song well, although in my own personal time I may have such goals, but remembering the overall vision of our worship group being there to serve others and lead them into God’s Presence.
4) Willingly embracing and engaging with songs that I am bored with or don’t like.
With number 3 in mind, I have to be willing to embrace and engage with songs that we have already sung five times this week. I have to engage with and practice that song with the awkward chords in the chorus. I have to ask the Holy Spirit what songs He wants sung on Sunday, not just make up a list based on my latest preferences. I have to willingly agree to work with the others when they are leading even when they have chosen songs in keys that are difficult to play.
5) Choosing to have a good attitude.
There are weeks I am involved in leading worship, others where I am part of the group and others where I am not involved. But we have made a choice at the moment that all of us will attend the practices each week as much as possible. The temptation to turn off the weeks I am not involved is there, but I have realised that my participation is a great opportunity to serve the others in the group - to encourage them and support them. I have chosen to make practices a priority in my week, to practice the songs I can each week, and do my best to be on time.
Now, I know that these are probably things that those who have lead worship for a while will find obvious, but for me, joining a worship group after a break for 10 years or so, they have been challenges! I am so used to leading ministry things alongside Mark, that becoming a part of a group which I am not leading, is a change of perspective and an opportunity for growth. But as I am dying to myself, I am loving the new life that God is bring out! I am loving being part of a group of people who love the Lord and who want to lay their lives down and worship Him and lead others into that place of worship too.
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it - Matthew 16:25
This is part 4 of a 6 part series of reflections of worship.
Click here to read:
- Part 1: When Worship is…like changing dirty nappies.
- Part 2: When worship is…those upbeat songs
- Part 3: When worship is…uncomfortable
- Part 4: When worship is…death to me
- Part 5: When worship is…breakthrough
- Part 6: When worship is...awe-inspiring
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