A few years ago, two of our worship team members took my wife and me to a worship conference led by Darlene Zschech. The venue was relatively small, and thanks to the remarkable seat-saving skills of our host, I was always on the front row, only ten feet from Darlene.
For three days I not only worshipped, but I heard about worship, thought about worship, and learned about worship and leading worship. During all the listening and thinking I did, three cautionary statements came to me which I’ve used and shared ever since. One of those was this:DON'T WORSHIP BEING THE WORSHIP LEADER.
CALLED TO LARGE CONFERENCES
I had thought of that statement even before a conversation my wife and I had with someone sitting close by at the conference during a break. This person, a fine and sincere person, had told us about a meeting they would be having with Darlene after that session. The reason? “I feel called to lead worship at large conferences”.
To be fair, they may have simply said “conferences”, but I heard “large conferences”. And I thought later “That sounds like a sweet gig. Sign me up! I feel led to lead worship at conferences with thousands of people!”.
My brother used to be the music director at a large church, one that did seven or more services per weekend. I remember him telling me that there was no shortage of people who wanted to be on stage in front of a lot of people. But enthusiasm waned when they were encouraged to begin by leading worship for the children’s ministry.
Leading worship music can sometimes be a heady experience. Unless you do a terrible job you rarely get negative feedback. In fact it’s almost always overwhelmingly positive. Smiles and sighs and hugs. “Thanks for leading us to the throne, brother!”
You hold a place of respect. There’s an aura of assumed holiness. It may become easy to assume the attitude that this church (and yes, even God Himself) is lucky to have you.
You can call it Fame “Light”. Not real fame, because it’s not national news when you go for a run or duck into McDonalds. But it is fame on a much smaller scale. And I submit that fame can be a dangerous thing.
THE VISITING WORSHIP LEADER
When I was a traveling worship leader it always interested me to see the difference in how I was treated at a church before, and then after, they discovered that I was the guest musician. As an anonymous guest prior to a service, I might have to go out of my way to initiate a decent conversation. But almost without fail, when it was discovered that I was the singer . . . well, you might have thought I was Michael W. Smith.
It’s easy to resent the former behavior, and covet the latter.
At one such multi-day event I got to see what real fame looks like. The guest speaker was Rick Stanley. In case you don’t know, he is Elvis’s step-brother and part of his famed inner circle. Yes, THE Elvis. And I got to spend a good bit of time with him. One day we had lunch and went shopping together. Well, HE went shopping for clothes. I was just there.
Everywhere we went it was as if the wind was stirring and moving the water on a lake. Crowds would part and heads would turn. I believe if he had asked for the keys to the safe he would have gotten them.
As far as I know Rick handled that fame well. He was kind, humble, and never seemed presumptuous. But the real question is how do I, as a worship leader, handle the attention that comes my way?
We pray “Lord use me!”.
Of course we have certain criteria in mind.
“Make me a servant!”.
Criteria that usually involve a nice sound system, a great band, and the right lighting.
THE TRUE TEST
Being a servant has taken on a different slant since I heard this statement a few years ago:
“The true test of being a servant is how you respond when you are treated like one.”
So use this as one more reminder to keep your eyes on the Light - not on Fame “Light”.
GOT SOME IDEAS ON HOW TO AVOID “WORSHIPPING BEING THE WORSHIP LEADER?