Someone asked me yesterday, “How do we ensure that when we worship as musicians that it’s all for God and not for hype?”
And I thought to myself, “geez I’m so glad we have quality people like you on team asking deep questions like this” followed by saying to him, “I’m gonna write a blog post on that tomorrow!” Quite honestly, I think it’s pertinent at the start of the year to refresh ourselves, refocus our minds and realign our hearts to what is infinitely good and eternally significant. For those of us involved in serving in worship ministries, I think meditating on this question is one of the best ways to do that!
So how do we do this? How do we not get caught up in the big screens, the lights, the energy and the hype? I don’t believe these are bad things. In fact throughout the Bible there are physical displays of splendour and excellence that bring glory to God, where the hype was for God. David danced shamelessly before God (2 Samuel 6:14) and we are commanded to play with excellence (Psalm 33:3). Even the house of God in the Old Testament was decorated so exotically, the gold and silver alone would be worth over $200 trillion by today’s standards. However, these things all serve a purpose. They were not to draw hype to themselves, but to point to an even greater beauty. And what a magnificent motivation of eternal significance!
So to that end, here are a few thoughts to make sure that what we do is “all for God and not for hype.”
1. Always keep Jesus at the centre
Who He is and what He did is the number one reason why we are who we are and why we are where we are. We are sons and daughters of God, adopted into His family by the shed blood and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He separated us from the world of Satan, sin and death and we are given victory through His grace and power, and only through His grace and power.
A practical tip I find useful is: every time you get up on the platform to lead worship, remember who you are. You are not first and foremost a musician or singer. You have been saved by grace, through faith, not because of anything you have done or will ever do, but only and completely because of God, so that you cannot ever ever boast. As a result of that, you have greatness inside of you and God wants you to outwork that as He leads (Ephesians 2:8-10), whether at church or in the world.
But even with greatness inside of you, don’t think of yourself more highly than you actually are (Romans 12:3). Every time you prepare for worship, remember Jesus and be thankful for the cross that saved you! If you’re ever tempted to think yourself as the most important person or the top thing on stage, Hebrews 2:18-3:1 says that Jesus can help you in temptation, so fix your thoughts on Jesus Christ.
2. Let your ministry be an overflow of your relationship with and reverence for God.
Remember what God has spoken to you during the week. Remember what He is doing in your life right now. Remember his grandeur and greatness. Remember that he breathed stars out of his mouth, that he spoke a few simple words to create the world, but that he also breaths and speaks life over you every moment of every day. Romans 8:34 tells us that Jesus is constantly praying for us! Oh that we would be more aware of how ever present God is!
Remember this revelation during the week, and remember this every time you get up on stage to lead worship! Maybe even share what He has spoken to you or done in your life so that we can all be encouraged before we get up on stage to lead worship. If you haven’t had the best devotional life, then get before God and pray that He would ignite something deep within you. And if you’re struggling, then be honest with someone you trust, because we’re all in this together, ups and downs alike. There is no shame in honesty and humility, only grace and transformative power (James 4:6).
3. Focus on the why behind the what.
Worship serves a purpose. Leading the music segment of worship during a service has a function. Truth bomb: Despite the raised stage and the brights lights, it’s not so that you can be seen. The purpose of the musical gift of God is so that you would be a window into what is unseen; a willing vessel, a gateway to God’s glory and victory.
I’m continually astounded by the biblical examples of music and worship.
2 Chronicles 20:20-21 is a mind-blowing excerpt showing the function and power of worship.
As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:
“Give thanks to the Lord,
for his love endures forever.”
2 Chronicles 20:27-28 bookends this victory with even more worship!
“Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the Lord had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the Lord with harps and lyres and trumpets.”
Go and read the in-between verses, and you’ll realise that not only did God win the battle for the Israelites, but He did so without the Israelites lifting a finger or even knowing what was taking place until they arrived at the battlefield. You have absolutely no idea what people are going through or what miraculous victory God wants to bring. If you would only focus on the freedom your humble and expectant hearts in service to God brings! Every time you get up on stage, build up your faith in the God of the impossible and ask Him to unleash freedom and salvation every time you serve! People’s lives are being changed physically, spiritually, emotionally and mentally.
Sometimes you’ll hear the stories of redemption, sometimes you won’t, but know that in our church there are testimonies of people being miraculously healed during worship, encouraged during worship and saved as a result of worship. I recall one service when worship was so powerful and the cross intensely magnified, that Pastor Malcolm was led by the Spirit to interrupt the service and give a salvation appeal, with many many responses! So because God is a redemptive God, seen through Israel’s story and our own, be on your toes for what God is wanting to do through you!
Side note: notice what were the Israelites singing in worship? “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.” You seriously don’t need to fight that hard. We don’t fight against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers. However, God’s weapons are unconventional: Love, grace, thankfulness and surrender in response to the good and glorious character and nature of God!
How about another Biblical example:
In 2 Kings 3:15, Elisha is enquired to hear from God on behalf of Israel and Judah. Elisha’s response? “bring me a harpist.” Then it says, “While the harpist was playing, the hand of the Lord came on Elisha.” In God’s hands, one harpist was a catalyst for the prophet of God to hear from God, which in turn brought victory to a nation. Music can have a prophetic edge to it. Your gift is not insignificant, no matter how big or small it is. Much like this harpist, in some cases your gift isn’t meant to be used alone, but in collaboration with preachers, teachers, ushers, welcomers or intercessors. In any case, we are a body and you have a part to play in the grand scheme of reconciling people to God.
2018 is a clean slate for God to do magnificent things in people’s lives, some of whom we haven’t even crossed paths with yet. I pray that you would be encouraged to venture into the unknown with the magnificent motivation to see God’s redemption working through you!