If you’re anything like me, you have many thoughts that swirl in your head as you lead worship. Those thoughts aren’t always helpful or productive; and negatively impact your connection with God and people. I’ve taken a moment to outline some things I now intentionally shift my mind to any time I’m on the platform or recording a video for my church. I hope they help you as they have helped me.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve jumped into a worship service or recording without doing the necessary prep of cultivating my soul beforehand. In those times, I feel like my heart is fragile and running away. I find myself feeling insecure, wondering what people are thinking of me. The first thing I think about when I first get on the platform or in front of a video camera is, “Where’s my heart?”. The goal is to have a clear assessment of where it is so I can then get centered and secured on God and His grace.
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting”.Psalm 139:23-24
A mistake I have seen many worship leaders make is forget about their congregation – people they are supposed to be engaging. This happens for many reasons, but shouldn’t, if we’re wanting to actually lead our people. I’ve heard it said before, “If you’re not engaging your people, you’re just worshiping, not worship leading.” Engage your people like David did in the Psalms. Ask, “Where are my people? What are they struggling with? What are their needs?”. Not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord”.Psalm 150:6
God has intentions for each moment. He is always working behind the scenes. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God chooses to use us in leading His people in worshipful moments. So, a question I like to ask myself when I’m leading a song or a set is, “where is God moving?”. We see in scripture that that is how Jesus functioned. He was sensitive to where His Father was moving and where His Father wanted Him to be. We should have that same sensitivity and commitment to following our heavenly Father, especially as we lead worship.
“Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does”.John 5:19
In our worship services, online or in person, there are so many different songs we do; fast, slow, or songs that are just meant to be listened to. I want to help my people engage with those songs. The fourth thing I think about when I lead is, “where can I encourage participation?”. Participation is important, whether it’s singing, clapping, shouting “Oh’s”, or even reflecting in silence as the music plays. How can our songs have the biggest impact in the moment for our people and their souls? Find the opportunities in a song to exhort your people, and do it…
“Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted…”.Exodus 15:20-21b
Lastly, and most important, I ask myself the question, “Is God being glorified?”. My purpose is not to bring attention to myself, but to Jesus! We are called to be traffic signs pointed up, mirrors directing gazes to the Father; or whatever other illustration you can think of. We are called to point to the glory of God! Not our own or anyone else’s. Having this end in mind helps me frame and cut through the first four questions I mentioned. God’s glory is what leading worship is all about.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”.I Corinthians 10:31
So, be encouraged today as you intentionally shift your mind and lead your people. Praying for you!
Hector Gabriel is a worship leader, culture coach, and professor who loves to encourage the heart, inspire hope, spark change, and promote unity through music, teaching, writing, and relationships. Subscribe to stay connected!