Stop sabotaging your worship ministry
This post could be applied to any area of your life as this does not just relate to worship leaders, and this is something that I deal with myself. It’s the issue of self doubt. We’ve all been there. We all face moments in our lives where we are asked to step up and do something that is not comfortable for us. It is in these moments that we really grow as individuals.
The thing that can hinder us all from walking in our true potential and being all that God has called us to be is the self doubt that many of us face every day. As worship leaders we must stop sabotaging our worship ministry by telling ourselves that we are not equipped to do the very things that God has equipped and called us to do!
As I’m writing this I’m reminded of all the times when I have doubted myself and my abilities. I remember when I was 17 years old. I had only been leading worship for about one year, and that wasn’t even in a church setting. I had been leading at a homeless outreach of my church. I saw myself as a poor musician and vocalist so I never even tried to be on the worship team at church. I believed that nobody would want to hear me lead worship when there were plenty of other more talented people around who could do the job.
So during this time my pastor approached me and asked me if I would be willing to lead worship at the Men’s retreat that they were planning. I was honored to be asked to do this but I was very nervous. I remember having a conversation with him about it and asked him why he wanted me to do it when there are so many others who could do the job. I will never forget what he told me.
He said “sure there are many people who could come and play the guitar and sing; however, there is nobody that can do it the way you do and that is what we are wanting.” He even went on to jokingly say that if I could get homeless people, who were just there for a meal and tolerated my music, to worship then it should be easy for me to get passionate men to engage in worship.
There was of course way more to this conversation but I don’t want to bore you with all of the details; however, essentially he was telling me that I was more than I thought I was. He could see something in me at that time that I couldn’t even see in myself. This is the reason that I highly encourage everyone to have mentors and spiritual authority in their lives because when you submit yourself to someone else then they can pull things out of you that you cant see within yourself. But thats another blog post entirely.
I could recount several more stories where I felt inadequate, then after pushing forward I realized it was a growing opportunity. I could also recount stories where I let the fear and self doubt win; however, I’m not trying to write a novel here. So I just want to highlight a few of the things that I have realized over the years about this issue of self doubt.
You are good enough even if you stumble.
If God waited for us to be perfect then there would be nobody in ministry, yet I can’t even count the number of times that I have seen worship leaders stop leading worship because they don’t have their lives together as they believe that they should.
Now there is something to be said about wanting to be a positive influence to those whom you are leading but even they know that you stumble and fall short sometimes. One of the biggest lies that the devils tells us is that because we stumble sometimes then we are no longer qualified to be in a place of authority within the church.
When I look at all of the people in the bible I don’t see people who were perfect. I see messed up murders and adulterers. I see people who have issues. Yet somehow these are the very people that God chooses to use. We can’t let what we think is wrong with us prevent us from worshipping what is right with God.
In reality it’s more about the heart. Are you just stumbling? or are you going out and purposefully repeating the same sin over and over? Are you seeking help with it or are you hiding the sin in your life from those in authority. If you are desiring to walk uprightly and occasionally stumbling then don’t let the devil tell you that you are inadequate and not able to lead worship.
As a leader of a team I would much rather know where my teammates are struggling so that I can help them. The issue occurs when someone is choosing to live in sin and hiding it from everyone else. That’s when you should step down from leading worship.
You can operate in excellence without being prideful.
We should strive to be excellent in our skills and talents. God has given us these talents to use and he has called us to be good stewards of those talents. So we learn and practice our skill and craft, and then use these skills and talents to lead other people into worship. What would it say about somebody as a worship leader if they barely know how to play their instrument?
Let’s look at it from the business world. Lets say I’m a carpenter, after all we want to be like Jesus right? If I am a carpenter then I’m spending time learning how to make things. I may make a beautiful table or cabinet set, or whatever. If i’m skilled in my craft then people really value the things that I have made. My tables may go for a lot of money because of the skill that I have in woodworking.
We should have that same desire in our skills and talents as worship leaders. We should be striving to be the best at what we do. Not because we want to be known as the best but because God deserves the best. So if God deserves the best then why are we only giving him mediocrity and saying that we are doing this so we don’t become prideful. It’s a false dichotomy.
Throughout the Bible we see people giving God the best of what they have. We need to get over ourselves and give God the best that we have as well. I actually believe that not understanding and striving to operate in excellence in our gifting is more prideful than striving to become excellence. Because we are saying that us appearing as “humble” is more important than striving to give God all that we are capable of giving him.
We as worship leaders need to understand that God has given us an anointing and a platform from which we can make him known. We have to understand that some of that falls on us. Sure God could give someone the ability to play guitar and lead worship overnight but I don’t see that happening do you? So let’s get over ourselves and stop saying things like”oh it was all God” when someone gives us a compliment.
We know that God had something to do with it but he choose to use us and our many years to learning our craft to achieve his purpose. If it was really all God then my singing would sound much better than it does. God chooses to use us and we need to understand that and then make choices that can help us grow in our skill and ability so that we can better serve him with our talents.
Overcome self doubt by preparing
So what’s the solution if we find ourselves constantly doubting ourselves when we step up to lead worship? The answer is prepare, prepare, prepare. I remember going through a phase when I first started leading worship where I constantly thought I wasn’t good enough so to counteract that I would plan every little detail of how I wanted the service to go. I even planned out exactly what I would say, if I were going to say anything, in between songs.
Eventually I got to a place where I would push myself to let go of some of the preparation. I would say “okay this week I’m not going to plan what I’m going to say between these 2 certain songs”. Then I would just ad-lib that part. What that did was allow me the comfort of having a plan but also push myself to be able to adapt to the situation. Now I can go into a worship set with no preparation at all and usually manage to pull it off fairly well, with an occasional hiccup and a bad that is mad at me for not preparing anything… but that’s entirely another rant.
Stop comparing yourself to other worship leaders
God has equipped each of us with our own talents and anointing. I remember hearing Jason Upton once speaking about this topic and he was saying something along these lines. If you don’t like the way I lead worship then that’s fine, don’t lead worship like I do; and, if you like the way I lead worship then that’s fine… but don’t lead worship the way I do.
His point was that each of us have a unique gifting that we are called to talk in. Your worship expression will look different than my worship expression and if I’m comparing myself with you to determine if Im a good worship leader or not then I’m comparing apples to oranges.
The only thing that we can compare is how effective are we today vs how effective we were yesterday. have we grown in our place of authority as a leader from where we were last year? Now i’m not saying “is God moving the same way last year as he is now” because that can open a whole new can of worms. I’m simply saying that we are the only ones that God has equipped the way he did and so we can only compare ourselves with ourselves.
Understand that the few who complain do not represent the majority
We see this in any church. We see this online in forums. We see this in our workplaces. There are always a select few people who don’t like the way things are going. There are always people who are afraid of change and sometimes these people are vocal about this. Study after study has proven though that these people are a minority.
One of the biggest breakthroughs that I had when I started leading worship was coming to the realization that the one or two vocal people, who didn’t like they way I do things, do not represent the majority of everyone there.
We can’t allow this vocal minority to cause us to doubt ourselves or doubt what God has called us to do.
Just Do It! Even if you are scared.
As I mentioned before, I have struggled with self doubt in the past and I can remember the many times that I even cancelled an event because of these feelings of self doubt. I would allow the nervousness and fear that came up inside of me to dominate me in the moment and lead me to believe that I wasn’t good enough to do this. Now there have also been many times that I just told those feelings no and did it anyways. To my surprise every time that I decided to do it anyways God showed up and did something amazing.
If you are scared or afraid then that is a good thing. It means that you are putting yourself out there and stepping out of your comfort zone to pursue what God is calling you to do. If you don’t get anything else out of this whole blog post then please get this… if you are scared do it anyways.
Don’t let fear hold you back from accomplishing all that God has called you to do. When I think back to those few times that I cancelled events because I was too scared or nervous all I can think about is “what if I went through with it” and “was there someone there that God wanted to minister to through my worship”? These are big what if questions that I will never know the answer to because I allowed fear to hold me back.
Just because you failed in the past doesn’t mean you will fail again.
I’m already being very transparent in this post so I’ll continue that here. I still struggle with this, especially in the area of entrepreneurship. I’ve started blogs in the past. I’ve started podcasts in the past. I’ve even started businesses in the past and some of these have failed.
It comes to a point where when I’m faced with another opportunity to step out and do something that I have to look back at my advice from #6 in the article. I may be scared to step out and do it again because I failed in the past but I can’t let that fear hold me back.
Just because you tried something in the past that didn’t work doesn’t mean you shouldn’t ever do it again. Take those things that failed in the past and learn from them. Then apply those things that you learned for the next time so that you don’t repeat the same thing over and over again.
The Worst That could happen very rarely ever happens
This is the truth! When we think of stepping out and trying something new or taking on a new task our minds often default to extremes. We think of the best possible outcome and the worst possible outcome. The truth is though that the worst possible outcomes don’t usually ever happen because there are so many other outcomes in between those two that could play out.
I once again think about my journey with entrepreneurship. When stepping out to start a new business or venture my mind often says “what if you fail and you lose everything. Your family will be on the street with no food and no house.” While I guess that is a possibility I’m confident that it won’t happen because there are other outcomes that my mind doesn’t immediately think about. For example… if my business is failing then I could just get another regular job…. I’ve had to do that in the past and I’m willing to do it again if it’s ever needed.
It’s the same thing in worship leading. Often times our minds jump to the worst possible scenario which never ends up being what really happens. For example my church recently invited a hip hop group to come and minister at both of our Sunday services. One of our services is a very traditional style service.
So the whole week leading up to that sunday my mind was thinking that the congregation was going to hate it and there would be several emails about how out of line it was… but that Sunday came and as I looked at the congregation it looked as though they were enjoying it. Many were clapping and moving to the music. So I say all of that to say this. Try new things and understand that the worst case scenario rarely happens.
I hope that this post helps you as you go out and try new things in your times of worship. God has called you to be great in the area that he has you. It’s time that we as worship leaders stop doubting ourselves and understand that through Christ we can do all things. So I leave you with this….
God has called you and equipped you to be effective in your ministry just the way you are. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop doubting the call of God on your life. It’s time to operate in the anointing that God has placed on your life and be all that God has called you to be.
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