For: Essentials in Worship Part 3
Each and every one of us is unique, but we are all made with one thing in common, and that is that we are designed to worship. There is a need in all humans to bring glory to something. People do not always channel this impulse into worshiping God, but the impulse exists because we are designed to worship Him. N.T Wright said: “When we begin to glimpse the reality of God, the natural reaction is to worship Him. Not to have that reaction is a fairly sure sign that we haven’t yet really understood who He is or what He’s done” (1). Through these studies God has begun teaching me who I am, who the people are that I have the privilege of leading, and what it means to be a worship leader.
Dr. Peter Fitch’s article “Inner living, Outer Giving: Spiritual Disciplines For the Worshiping Heart” outlines five spiritual disciplines which are fundamental to being a worship leader. These five disciplines are: foot washing, offering loaves and fishes, water walking, cross carrying, and dead rising. I believe that within these five disciplines are the keys to understanding what it truly means to be a worship leader.
So what does it mean to be a foot washer, and how does it apply to the worship leader? Dr. Fitch writes “worship is the service of washing the dirt from people’s souls and it must be done from a posture of humility if it is to be invested with power”(2). Being a worship leader is not about being a superstar or being better than anyone else; we are simply gathering and guiding God’s image bearers together to lift Him up. We are called to make people all they can be in God. This can only happen when we ourselves are doing the same because, as Fitch said, “the quality of the water in the basin will have something to do with the quality of the leader’s secret-inner life with God” (3). If we don’t spend time knowing who we are in Christ how can we show others?
I believe it is our responsibility to be practically and spiritually prepared. Dr. Fitch calls this “offering loaves and fishes.” What I have come to believe in the last few years of leading worship is that we are to give 100% of our gifts and abilities to God, and He will do the rest. Dr. Fitch says this “Human musicianship, often impressive and wonderful, does not have the capacity to touch the soul and set it spiritually free. Jesus does”(4). As worship leaders we do all we can to prepare, and, like Fitch says, “we offer the loaves and fishes of our songs and ideas; He adds His presence in mysterious and miraculous ways” (5).
My senior pastor says that a worship leader is like the paddler of a boat, searching for God’s presence and places to land where the Spirit is invited. Similarly, Dr. Fitch describes worship leaders as water walkers. These two similes are a little different but both capture the essence of worship leadership. Fitch states that we are to “get out of the boat, out past the known and comfortable place of the familiar lyrics and chord patterns” (6). As worship leaders we must be sensitive to the spirit’s leading. If we are not careful, “it’s possible,” Fitch says, “for us to try too hard and worship past the place where the spirit is leading” (7). Let us be good stewards of our responsibility and not allow our emotions and feelings to interfere with where the spirit is leading. Let’s not paddle our boat past where the spirit stops and miss God.
The bible says in Philippians 2:3 to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” As we lead, our hearts should be about the people around us. Fitch puts it like this: “To take on this ministry is to give yourselves to others, to be available when you don’t feel like it, to sing songs long after they’re meaningful to you on a human level” (8). If all we are looking for is to please ourselves or have our personal feelings noticed, then we are missing the point. Dan Wilt said in the nature of human video this week that “we are called to make people all they can be” (9). I believe we do this by putting others before ourselves.
As I read the last part of Dr. Fitch’s article I began to cry because I truly related to what he wrote. I believe this to be true: “Humans do not have words to express the glory of this experience, of watching people that are lost and hopeless suddenly receiving the Life of God in a tangible way, shattering bondages and bringing them into newness and the freedom and joy” (10). This to me is what it is all about—God’s people finding out who they are and why they were made.
So who I am and who are the people I lead? The answer is simple. We are creative image bearers who, by gathering together as community, realize that we have a story to tell. We are the lead worshippers of all creation. N.T Wright says we are like “angled mirrors reflecting God’s glory to all creation but then in turn reflecting back to Him the praises of that creation” (11) Brain Doerksen answers the question: why do we sing songs in the first place? We do it because it is something that we can do together. Singing together is something that is easy to do no matter the number of people. He further states that a “song reflects what is going on in our hearts and our minds, together. There is truth that we are affirming, but there is also affection that we’re expressing. That is why I think that singing as an expression of worship has stood the test of time” (12). We are all on this journey together and as worship leaders we are simply supplying an outlet for God’s people to magnify and honor Him who give us our uniqueness and celebrate His Kingdom reigning forever and ever.
1) N.T Wright. Simply Christian (HarperCollins e-books; 1 edition May 5, 2009) Kindle Edition.
2) Fitch, Peter Dr. “Inner Living, Outer Giving: Spiritual Disciplines For The Worshiping Heart.” Inside Worship. Page 4.
8 ) Ibid
9) Dan Wilt, The Nature of Human Beings. (www.WorshipTraining.com) Video.
10) Fitch, Peter Dr. “Inner Living, Outer Giving: Spiritual Disciplines For The Worshiping Heart.” Inside Worship. Page 4.
11) N.T Wright, Reflecting God’s Image and Reflecting Creations Praise. (www.WorshipTraining.com) Video.
12)Dan Wilt, Exploring Our Roots: The Contemporary Worship Movement. (www.InsideWorship.com) Article.