As a young worship leader, I didn’t really have the benefit of sitting under a more seasoned worship leader’s tutelage for any length of time. As a result, I’ve had to learn many of my lessons the hard way. God has an incredibly gentle hand, though, and has guided me to a greater understanding of many things pertaining to worship. That’s not to say I’ve got it all figured out, but I’ve grown significantly over the years.
One example of God’s gentle teaching has been an experience early on after moving to Colorado Springs and my current church, Springs Calvary. When I first moved, I was challenged by the pastor to begin picking songs that focused more on God than on myself. At first, I didn’t understand what he was asking. In fact, I was struggling with being offended that he didn’t trust me to pick the songs. After all, didn’t he hire me to do that? (Can you say “pride?”) Believe it or not, I had never really thought about the worship songs I picked each week in that way. My thinking was that if people could express their heart to God, it didn’t matter – expression was the goal.
Looking back, I was half right.
I still desire for the people I lead in worship to express their hearts to God – that’s a no-brainer. But the way in which they go about that expression is where I’ve come to understand what my pastor was pushing for. It’s subtle, yes. And many of you already know where I’m going with this. But I think it’s of great importance to all worshippers, not just leaders.
So in dutiful obedience to my pastor, I went to work examining my repertoire. When I looked at all the songs I used at my previous church, I noticed that over 70% of the songs were focused on me and my response to God. In fact, 18 of those songs started with the word, “I.” ”I Love You, Lord,” “I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever,” and “I Will Worship” are just a few. Great songs, for sure, but as I realized how “me centered” my worship was, I was humbled. I had never taken the time to examine my motives and it would seem by the evidence of this list of songs that I valued expressing how I felt about Him more than I valued expressing Him only.
Now there’s obviously a place for those songs and for expressing where we’re at in response to His majesty. In fact, I still do some of them occasionally. The conviction for me came from the fact that I hadn’t even considered it. I had been missing the other side of expression – WHO HE IS.
That has lead to a much fuller expression of true worship here at Springs Calvary (to see some of our current set lists, click here.) Not that one song is better than another, but now that I am aware of the subtle differences, I can pick songs that our congregation needs to sing and do a better job expressing the fullness of worshipping the King. In my opinion, this is a main component of a worship leader’s job.
The end result of this post shouldn’t be a defensive posture or a feeling of guilt. I would hope it would cause us all to examine not only the songs we sing and the focus of said songs, but to examine our hearts in regards to worship. Do my prayers center around me or Him? Am I typically asking or thanking? Do I “tell Him” or “praise Him?”
The goal is more than expression of our hearts and where we’re at – the goal is to worship Him for who He is.
(Well duh, Travis…that’s why it’s called worship.)
Yeah. Well, OK then.