Two Words You Likely Never Use to Describe Your Worship

Southern Fried Faith cover  I am happy today to publish a Guest – Post by my friend, Rob Tims, who serves as Discipleship Strategist, Lifeway Church Resources Division, and is also the author of a new book I have just read and highly recommend, especially to anyone who grew up in the South.

Rob Tims is the author of Southern Fried Faith. Learn more about Rob and his ministry at


With only two words, how would you describe your personal attitude or state of mind when you arrive to worship on Sunday?

Here’s my list.

Anxious and angry.

Burdensome and bleary.

Calloused and cranky.

Detached and distracted.

Frazzled and frustrated.

I could use most of the alphabet, but you get the point. For far too many Sundays, I walk into corporate worship hassled and hurried as a result of any number of excuses, most of which have my own sin at the center.

Sure: my wife and three kids are just as guilty as I am for our inability to be in worship on time and in a proper frame of mind, but their sin is no excuse for my own.

The scary thing is how easily I become OK with these attitudes on Sundays. After a few weeks of:

  • Pulling into the parking lot arguing with my wife
  • Licking my thumbs and wiping breakfast off the cheeks of my third grader who did not brush his teeth or hair
  • Changing a dirty diaper on the floorboard of our minivan in the church parking lot

… I essentially accept corporate worship will be disappointing most of the time.

My frustration at both these circumstances and my resignation to them reveals that I know such words should not describe my attitude in worship. Surely there are better words that should describe our state of mind as we enter into worship.

There are, but they might not be what you think.

We might be tempted to think they are the opposite of words I’ve already thrown out. Instead of “anxious,” you might choose “calm.” Or instead of “frazzled,” you might say “focused.” Certainly, “calm” and “focused” can be great frames of mind in worship, but are these the kinds of feelings God wants me to have when I enter in?

Maybe, but there are definitely two that all too rarely describe my attitude toward worship, yet are all too essential for it to be a genuine experience that honors the Lord.

These words are reverence and awe, and they come from Hebrews 12:29—”… let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe …”

Acceptable worship … worship that is right for me and acceptable to God … is that which is characterized by “reverence and awe.” By “reverence and awe,” the writer of Hebrews means a state of mind that acknowledges God’s holiness. It’s a throwback reference to the days when God’s presence consumed Mt. Sinai with fire. Though in Christ we have access to this God, this access does not permit apathetic indifference towards Him. He is and always will be “a consuming fire.”

There are two things that I love about these words. First, no style of worship has the patent on worshipping with “reverence and awe.” God’s holiness is bigger than our battles over electric guitars, printed music, or choir robes. Different church cultures can experience worship with reverence and awe in a myriad of ways, and any church culture can become a slave to its methods in a way that distracts from God’s holiness.

Second, these characteristics remind me that worship is not about me, but about Him. Too often, I have come to worship wondering, “What’s in it for me?” In other words, I have approached worship with a consumer’s mentality. But if God is a consuming fire, then I’m not the consumer: He is. Worship is not primarily about what I get, but what about He gets. I’m not to approach worship or leave worship primarily wondering how good it was for me, but about whether or it not it was acceptable to my God who is “a consuming fire.”

That God is a consuming fire requires that I worship with reverence and awe. What’s amazing about this is that reminding myself of this reality as I walk into church on Sunday morning has a way of helping me work through those distractions that constantly pull at me prior to and in worship. My squirmy kid, that person’s mobile phone, the sound guy’s forgetfulness, and that preacher’s long sermon simply don’t matter nearly as much when my attitude is “reverence and awe.” A growing understanding of who God is far outweighs any of those things that might distract me from Him.

I’m teaching a Sunday school class this Sunday. I’m sure to be rushed and nervous prior to the class, and I’m sure to be late to worship as a result of conversations and cleaning up after class. But by speaking the truth of God’s holiness to myself as I walk to the chapel, I can nurture and grow with this belief about God: “He is a consuming fire who must be worshipped with reverence and awe.”

And in so doing, I can honor Him in my worship.

And so can you.


Explore posts in the same categories: Leading Worship, Music Ministry, Worship Leader Relationships, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship theology, Worship thoughts, Youth Worship

One Comment on “Two Words You Likely Never Use to Describe Your Worship”

  1. Reblogged this on Southern Fried Faith and commented:
    Honored to write a guest post for Paul Clark this week. Two words that likely rarely describe your worship, but must.

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