We all have a vision of a worship leader in our heads when we lead worship. At least we probably did when we started leading. At some point along the way we were impacted by someone’s worship leading and we thought it would be cool if we could be like them someday.
It doesn’t take long for us to realize that we may never be like someone else. For me, one of my worship leading heroes is Paul Baloche. I love his songwriting, his humility and his laid-back approach to leading worship. The times I’ve been under his leadership have been some of the most authentic worshipful experiences I’ve had.
So, when I think about how I want to be as a worship leader, I think of Paul, and how if I could do things like him our people would really worship. Have you found yourself doing this?
Well, I have good news for you, it’s not all bad. In fact, I would say that it’s mostly good. I think it’s great to learn from other leaders. However, we can’t let ourselves fall into the trap of judging ourselves against them. Don’t get me wrong, it is good to measure ourselves and see how we’re doing, but we shouldn’t try to gauge our success based on how we perceive the success of a completely different and unique creation of God.
So, here are my three simple tips for leading worship:
1. Be the person God made you to be.
God created you to be you. He has a dream and a vision for who you are supposed to be. He doesn’t want a bunch of cloned worship leaders, He wants the creativity with which he created each and every one of us to be an example for His glory. Have you ever thought about the fact that you, just being who you are when you go up to lead worship, are testifying to God’s creation? It’s true. And God has chosen you to be the person that will lead your body to his throne. Whether you’re the person with the mic or the person with the sticks, God has chosen you.
Have you ever been in a worship experience where you could tell the person leading worship was trying very hard to be someone they are not? I have. It was very hard for me to get over this persons desire to be someone else and get into worship. We don’t want to be that person. God created you because he loves you. Be okay with that. Thrive in that.
2. Be the person your congregation needs you to be.
This might sound like a contradiction, but it’s not. While God has created us to be who we are, He also has a vision for our lives. He has a dream for us and he will use many things and people to lead us to that end. So, we need to be learning from other worship leaders and applying the parts of their style that are consistent with our God-given personality.
Notice that I said, be the person your congregation needs you to be. I did not say, be Paul Baloche or whomever your worship leading hero may be. While we can learn from them, we are not trying to be like them. But we do need to look for ways that we can be a better leader for our congregation. We need to be in touch with the body we are leading and be making adjustments to our style that will help them be more engaged in worship.
It’s a lot like a coach does at half time. You go into the locker room and the coach will begin talking about some of the things that the team will be doing differently to be more effective in the second half. For us, we have that chance every week. Every week, we can review the weekend, get feedback from members of the congregation and make adjustments for the next weekend. Over time, the adjustments will become smaller, but there will always be room for improvement.
3. Don’t get in the way of God’s leading.
In the midst of being ourselves and being the leader the congregation needs us to be, we need to make sure that we don’t get in the way of what God wants to be doing. It’s easy. You practice, you think through the things you would like to say, do and sing differently, and before you know it, the worship set is over and God was merely the music in the restaurant. You knew it was there, but didn’t really pay any attention to it.
Listen to the promptings of the Spirit when you’re leading worship. If you feel led to raise your hands, but you don’t normally do that, do it. If you feel led to sing the chorus again, even though you didn’t practice it that way, do it. If you feel led to ask the congregation to close their eyes, or to kneel, or to pray silently, do it.
God wants to use you to do amazing things. But, just like He has a vision for you and your life, He has a vision for His church. While you are an important part of that, God is still the reason everyone is gathered there. People have come to connect with an eternal God. Make sure you don’t do anything to keep that form happening.