The Struggle Within

I had coffee and lunch last week with two of our fine young  worship pastors.  In each case we talked a good bit about the challenges of worship music ministry.  In one case we talked about the challenge of helping those in our worship ministries to develop as disciples of Christ, and not just as performers of music.  In the other discussion we addressed the personal struggle of performance excellence, and knowing when our focus on performing well becomes too central to our motivation.  In each case I think we concluded that there is always need to strike a healthy balance.  I think we also determined that today’s culture makes maintaining balance extra challenging.


At the core of both these discussions were tensions that we feel in worship music ministry.  On the one hand is our training as performers – musicians knowing what it means to “do well.”  On the other hand is a biblical teaching and spiritual reality that calls us to be humble, die to self, think of others as better than ourselves, and trust the Holy Spirit.  It seems to me this is a struggle within us, and if we worship music leaders were to be perfectly honest, it is a struggle that wars at times in us all.  The thing is that we can point to one side or the other of the tension and still come out “smellin’ like a rose.”  In other words, I can have a self-gratifying performance where people are applauding and affirming my presentation or that of my music group, and I can say, “well praise God!” even when I really mean, “man, I am good!   We have got it goin’ on!”  And I believe our performing groups somehow know what we really mean, and they pick up the same inclinations.  Or on the other hand, I could have a lack-luster performance where I am fully aware that either I did not do well and/or the people I lead did not perform well, and then I could deflect attention from our poor presentation by saying, “well, we just trust the Lord spoke to someone’s heart in these moments as we ministered.  After all, that’s what it’s all about anyway.”  Either of these situations can be a kind of spiritual smokescreen.  In the first scenario, on the inside anyway, I take credit as if my talent is something I have earned and therefore I deserve affirming applause.  In the situation where the performance was not up to par, I hope to divert attention from a poor presentation (and perhaps poor preparation) by presenting a spiritual facade.


Because ours is a ministry that includes performance we will likely continue to have the tensions within that struggle to keep our egos in check and to seek the ultimate glory of God above our own acclaim.  At some point in our lives we recognized that we had been given certain gifts to be used in Kingdom work.  As a result many of us sought to be trained and to hone our skills to do our best.  We must not lose sight of our need to practice spiritual discipline as we apply those talents and gifts God has given, even as we practice musical skills prayerful that the message will be meaningful and clear.  Transformation in people’s lives take place only as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit. That is true for our musicians and for us just as it is for those for and to whom we minister.


            What is good and what does the Lord require of you:

            To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

          Micah 6:8

May God bless, convict, and guide us as we continue in the struggle.





Explore posts in the same categories: Choir Ministry, Church keyboard players, Church Music, Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Private Worship, Shared Ministry, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leader Relationships, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship

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