5 Things I have learnt about being a Worship Leader
If I asked you why you want to lead worship and your answer is ‘I love to sing’; I would ask you to go and think about it some more. I’m not trying to be judgmental, please don’t get me wrong. One of the purposes of this blog and especially this series is to instruct worship leaders. I started leading worship about 20 years ago and I think it’s time to share some things that have helped me grow both spiritually and other wise on this journey.
Without the anointing, it’s just ‘gifted noise’.
We see in the bible, take David for example, there was an anointing to play the instrument so much so that Saul was able to come out of his depressive state when David played. That didn’t happen just because he ‘loved’ to play that instrument. Leading worship goes way beyond just the singing or playing.
As a worship leader, God has placed a special grace upon you just like there was on David and to that extent; that ‘special grace/annointing’ should be evident whenever you open your mouth to lead worship.
When I began leading worship many moons ago, I had no understanding of how the presence of God worked. Yes, I did love to sing so ordinarily I joined the choir of my local church at the time. I didn’t know God the way that I needed to know Him in order to tell of His wonders during worship. It was just about being in the choir, I didn’t know how to use this ‘gift’ to come closer to knowing God.
Whenever I would sing, there was something that I couldn’t place my finger on and everyone around me knew it but I also was not in an environment where that could be explained to me properly. Yes, I was the young girl who got ‘famous’ in church for her voice, but spiritually I was not ready.
To lead worship is to know God and know the presence of God.
One of the mistakes churches make is to expose a person to the congregation before they are ready. The mentality is that they grow into it – please no! For the sake of the congregation and the growth of the church, no! Between God annointing David and appointing him to be king, there was a period of development. Go read 1st Samuel 16 and 2nd Samuel 5 – he was anointed at 17 but he didn’t start to rule until he was 30 I believe. I say this to point out that there is a developing that must happen and most times, it will be done in obscurity when no one knows who you are!
It wasn’t until maybe 5 years ago that I really began to pray to experience the presence of God. I would lead worship and there would be such a mighty presence of God but I didn’t know what else to do after that. Do you do an altar call, is God giving you a word for someone? What do I do?! So, I came off the pulpit unfulfilled and unsatisfied and even ashamed at times. I felt like I knocked on the door of heaven, the door was opened and I promptly walked away! So, if I felt that way, I can’t imagine what the congregation was feeling like – confusion all around!
You must be hungry for His presence
Out of that came a hunger which birth this question – ‘is this all there to is leading worship?’ I prayed to experience your presence, now it’s here – what else? That is when the shift began for me. As I got into the word, began to pray and search, I found other worship leaders that were already at the level that I was hungry for.
I found powerful worship leaders and worship groups like Benita Washington, Todd Galbert, WorshipMob, Upperroom and Jesus Culture just to name a few. I also began to discover worship in all of its glory and as God intended it to be.
The power that worship carries is not something you can just teach, again my personal opinion. You can talk about it all you want but until a person actually experiences it – they don’t know what it is. The more you do it, the more God reveals Himself to you.
Prayer and worship work hand in hand
One of the things I have personally discovered and have heard other worship leaders say is that you cannot take people where you’ve never been. That is so true. The sincerity of your worship will be seen as you lead and that is what will pull people towards God.
As worship has evolved for me, I don’t even pray for myself anymore. I instead ask that everyone under the sound of my voice for those 25 to 40 minutes have a life changing encounter with God. Time and time again, He has answered and shown up in ways I cannot even began to explain.
I pray for the ones who know worship to press in deeper and the newbies to encounter Him for the first time. I want them to know the God behind the songs and not just know the lyrics to the songs.
In 2016, at the beginning of worship I would stress the need to listen and think about what you are singing about. Your heart should connect with the lyrics. When the words come alive for you, your worship will change and that will change your life!
Gifted and Annointed vs. Just Gifted
I heard a phenomenal woman Christine Caine speak about this and it totally came full circle. She talked about the church having gifted worship leaders versus anointed ones. There are significant differences between both – a gift will fill a room, it will entertain you, give you goosebumps and it will stir people up but like Isaiah 10:27 shows us, it is the anointing that breaks the yoke!
As a worship leader, as much as I encourage you to train your voice, strengthen it and learn more about improving your skill, the anointing is more important.
I’m going to leave you today with a song titled ‘New Wine’ by Hillsong which basically sums this up for me. The anointing comes through crushing; staying in His presence until you are ready for exposure. I choose to be gifted and anointed rather than just gifted, which do you choose?