DON’T BE LIKE THE SELF-FOCUSED WORSHIP LEADER ME

Rob Lowe like this me Have you ever been in worship as a participant in the congregation and been distracted by what appeared to be self-focus by the worship leader or preacher? That sounds harsh and could even sound judgmental, but discernment in our spirit usually speaks up for some reason. Worship Leaders, have you ever, like I have, finished your leadership responsibility and felt you needed forgiveness for drawing too much attention to yourself? Platform responsibility carries that potential danger.

Have you seen those crazy Direct TV commercials with famous actors and athletes like Rob Lowe, Andrew Luck, and now there are two Peyton Manning renditions. One is Peyton Manning, alongside Skinny Legged Peyton Manning, and Peyton Manning alongside Really High Voiced Peyton Manning. At the end Peyton says, “Don’t be like this me” pointing to the “really high voice me” who is singing Camptown Races in castrati-land with a barbershop quartet. I don’t know about you, but to me these ads are pretty funny. Granted, I still have Cable TV, but I enjoy the entertaining commercials.

Do you know of pastors and/or worship music leaders who seem to be almost two different people on platform and off? Some talk about having an alter ego, not referring to the psychotic kind, but just having a kind of stage persona that kicks into gear on the platform. Indeed, in most evangelical churches it takes a certain level of platform confidence to go about the duties of leading worship music or preaching in an effective manner such that people remain interested. For some the difference between “platform me” and the “real me” can be dramatic. In far too many cases, if we are not very careful (and prayerful), the platform me fosters a drift whereby we lose the sense of what worship is about and who it is to please. Worship Leaders and Pastors, have you ever assessed what goes on in your own mind and spirit and felt like you didn’t know who that was? Did you ever feel like you needed to pause and, like the commercial, say, “Don’t be like the worship-leading me?”

  • Intentionally surrender yourself anew to the desires of God before taking the platform for any leadership role.
  • Prayerwalk the worship space before anyone else comes in and consider those who will be sitting in the chairs or pews and pray for their spiritual edification and their participation in worship
  • Check your motivations for every part of the worship service, but most especially anything intended to embellish given material. For example ask the why? Question seriously about modulations, repetitions and extensions, or if you preach, about self illustrations
  • If worship services are videotaped review those with prayerful honesty as to what you see in yourself as you lead
  • Have an accountability partner who can go over planned worship items, or can even view video footage with you and give open and honest input regarding appearances and motivations
  • Develop a closet prayer team of a few individuals who will pray for your humility and servant spirit before during and after the worship service
  • Use a journal and chronicle your experience of worship leading soon after each service has dismissed. Take special note of how often your journal entries include an assessment of how well the people sing and otherwise participate in worship.

There is likely always some mix of motives in the platform leadership of worship, but it seems to me we must surely at the very least recognize the danger here, and move slowly and deliberately in planning and preparing for worship leading. After all, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10)   and Paul says,  “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12)

Fellow Worship Leaders, let’s ask ourselves the hard questions and seek wisdom in reflecting on the answers. Be not afraid to face up to those things that we do that really are to please our fellow man, to hush the critics, or worst of all, to draw attention to ourselves. We must root out the real resons for what we do and why we do it. That which stands true to the Word, and is offered to God in Spirit-inspired direction will not return void. Even the simplest of songs or most basic of sermons will prove far more powerful, even if we do not see those immediate results, than the most dazzling of performances that are given to show how good we think we can perform.

Lord, help our leaders to be humble before You, and to lead Your people recognizing that this is the Bride of Christ. May our services of worship reflect You more and more through the humble, Christlike spirit of our leaders as they grow to be more like You. May we find our leaders joining the spirit of what we read in 2 Corinthians 3:18

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

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

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One Comment on “DON’T BE LIKE THE SELF-FOCUSED WORSHIP LEADER ME”

  1. Zach Young Says:

    I certainly don’t want to pass the blame for my pride onto the congregation, but this statement from your article is very telling:

    “Indeed, in most evangelical churches it takes a certain level of platform confidence to go about the duties of leading worship music or preaching in an effective manner such that people remain interested.”

    It seems that the evangelical “stage” culture is unhealthy and promotes platform arrogance. Even our architecture is purposefully designed to draw attention to the leadership. Some of the blame can be laid on congregations, who demand continuous visual stimuli and a pattern of emotional highs and lows (a.k.a. entertainment) in order to stay engaged. If we as worship leaders will fight the temptation to succumb to the demands of our entertainment-driven culture, we can gradually, gently, and pastorally help our people accept and appreciate platform leadership that is steady, helpful (in that it encourages and enables congregational singing), and even somewhat understated. I am thankful for a pastor and congregation here at FBC Jackson who value the corporate nature of a Christian worship gathering and have not placed the demands of “performance” on my shoulders.

    I can vividly remember the times I have attended services or organ recitals in worship spaces where all of the musical leadership is in the rear gallery. At first, it is indeed difficult to remain focused and mentally present. However, as time goes on, the lack of constant visual stimulation gradually encourages the ear to take over, and what is heard becomes far more dominant in my mind than what is seen.

    One recital I attended in a large Catholic cathedral was especially poignant as I noticed, for the first time in my life, the Stations of the Cross around the room. As I got a bit aurally bogged down in the fugue coming from behind me, I am thankful that the architectural features in the room served a higher purpose than simple decor. When my brain struggled to process the sound waves coming into my ears, suddenly I was reflecting on the crucifixion of our Lord without even trying! My eyes simply glanced at the wall. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if evangelicals had worship spaces where even the visual cues point to the supremacy of Christ Jesus, rather than the pastor, worship leader, choir, band, etc.? If I led a choir in the rear gallery, I wouldn’t wear cuff links nearly so often 🙂


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