Worship Leading: Preparing Your Attention

Everyday there are things that demand our attention and things that deserve our attention. Finding the balance between the practical demands of putting on church services and attending to our own personal spiritual well is a great struggle for worship leaders. I know I have found this to be a line of difficulty, the line between musical excellence and active engagement with God in His presence.

Too often, I am guilty of giving my attention to whatever is screaming for it. You’ve been there: the turn into the verse that is a little shaky, that high note on the bridge you’re anticipating to be flat, the lyric computer freezing… all these sometimes-small things scream for our attention. If we give into what demands our attention over the God who deserves our attention, we can begin to measure the success (and the purpose) of church gatherings on accomplishments and not on our encounter with a living God.

So what can we do to focus our mind’s attention and heart’s affection on God and put the rest into proper perspective this Sunday?

Preach the gospel to yourself.

It’s surprisingly easy to forget the powerful truth that while we were still sinners, Jesus Christ died our death, making a way for us to enter into God’s Kingdom! The Gospel isn’t a one time grace, it’s a grace we need constantly; it’s a grace that brings us close and keeps us close. Remember to meditate on this daily, and especially before you walk on a platform to lead. Abide in Christ’s love (John 15: 9-12).

Don’t neglect the secret place of worship.

Engage with God off the platform, just you and the Lord. Sing in your private time to Him and enjoy His love for you. If worship “sounds great” on Sunday but your intimacy with God is neglected, what’s the point? Don’t let “spirituality” become your job or you will end up pulling water from a dry well. Instead, spend time seeking His presence and He will fill your soul. 

Read the Bible for you, not for your job.

I have been guilty of reading my bible in search of truths to share with the church and not in search of truths that will better my relationship and understanding of the nature of God.  Read the Word of God for you, not to just to fulfill the role of a "worship leader." Apart from being rooted in Christ, you cannot bear fruit. His Word is what roots us. 

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

The more technically prepared you are, the freer you will be to engage in God’s presence. When you’re worried about the next chord, lyric or song, it will dominate your inner dialogue and become a distraction. In those moments, it’s near impossible to discern the still, small, voice of the Spirit because you are barely keeping your head above water. Put in the work to know the music to the best of your ability so that you can focus your energies on seeking His presence with the Church on Sunday.

Here’s to focusing our hearts and minds on the One who deserves our attention this week!



Shepherding Your Team

It’s so easy to forget that spiritually leading my team is the most important part of my job as a worship leader. Often times, I am very concerned with the quality of the experience, but I can forget about the quality of influence on my worship team. Psalm 33:3 says, “Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.” From this verse we see that the Lord enjoys our excellence. But so often, the pursuit of excellence and the tyranny of the urgent can pull us from what really matters: loving the people around us. I can forget that God has placed a team of people under my leadership so that I can shepherd them. Love them. Encourage them. Correct them and help them grow. Pray for them. Walk with them through some of the toughest seasons of their life. And as shameful as it is for me to admit, when I’m not prioritizing how I can serve them, I can start to see my team of volunteers as a resource instead of as people, as God’s children. I can fall into the trap of thinking about what they can do for me, instead of what I can be doing for them. .

Perhaps, you too tend to lose sight of the state of your people. Well, there’s hope for the both of us and it begins with our willingness to be intentional. “Be diligent to know the state of your flocks…” (Proverbs 27:23). Great leaders consider how their people are, not just how useful they can be. Knowing the condition of your community (individually and as a whole) will not just happen naturally. Intimacy is hard work. The Message translation says, “Know your sheep by name.” How many times have you been introduced to someone, only to forget their name seconds after you shook their hand? Guilty! To know your people you must be intentional to listen to them. You need to be the one asking the questions, praying the prayers, and making the time for your volunteers. As your knowledge grows, so will your compassion to disciple them.

Being purposeful and accessible are maybe the greatest keys to effective discipleship. You’re probably thinking, “How am I going to make time on top of everything?” I understand. The secret is to create margin. Organize your time and your tasks well so that when Sunday arrives you can spend your time with your team, instead of charting songs and answering emails.

As you get to know your team, not only will you be able to more effectively encourage them, but you will also be able to empower them. Andy Stanley writes in Next Generation Leader, “The people who follow us are exactly where we have led them. If there is no one to whom we can delegate, it is our own fault.” Good leaders produce followers, great leaders create more leaders. Jesus is (literally) the perfect example of this. He came to serve, not to be served, and then He empowered us to carry His precious gospel. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father (John 4:12).” Consider the strengths of your team members and start giving them responsibilities in those areas. This will assist you in creating margin for yourself. You may even discover that they are better at parts of your job than you are, and that’s okay.

Be encouraged knowing that the God who is your perfect example is also your perfect strength. Be intentional to know your people, listen to them, pray for them create margin for them and empower them in their strengths. If you are looking for ways to serve your team, you will find them. It doesn’t mean you always have all the answers. More often than not, it just means you are willing to listen.