Being a worship leader for more than 15 years has meant committing to saying ‘yes’ to walking in the power and authority that God alone gives, and saying ‘no’ to the lies of the enemy. It has been a daily decision to say ‘yes’ to a growth process that isn’t always easy.
It is in refining and growth that Jesus reveals a “staying” side of His amazing character. He is safe, never leaving, always loving through it all. Here in this place of safety, I have learned to trust. My identity is renewed and I see life with new perspective.
To say that I have arrived would be far from the truth, but to say I have lived through refining fire and have experienced great growth is very true.
My life story has unfolded in unexpected ways many times, but to say “I will go the distance” has become a heart cry. Why? It is so powerful and fulfilling to know you have lived out your gifting and have served in a beautiful way, unto the Lord. If I could impart one thing to the next generation of worship leaders, it would be the “staying power” in ministry. So many have hit the storms of life or rocky relationships, that has caused them to turn away from the church, community, and ultimately their calling to lead worship. So what makes one have longevity in the calling? To make a radical decision to say “I will go the distance!”?
Here are just a few ways the Father has revealed to me how to “go the distance!”
1. Be rooted in Jesus! In a social media driven culture, where people have a high need to be ‘known’, I sense Jesus calling us to a deeper level of intentionally making HIM the focus and HIS name great. If all social media, stages and titles were non-existent, would our worship leading be the same? What if no one saw us lead worship, knew some powerful thing we said (LOL), or what famous person we knew, would our worship leading change? Putty Putman says it well in his new book, Kingdom Impact, “Without an established identity rooted in God’s view of who we are, we could wander into anchoring our identity in our calling. We could see our mission as what gives us value or significance, and that without it, we do not seem important.” Being rooted and firmly established in Jesus creates longevity the world cannot take! It is a reminder of Whose we are and why we lead worship.
2. Fight disappointment with a Kingdom perspective. We all have dreams and desires that sometimes do not go the way we had hoped or prayed for as worship leaders. Maybe we didn’t get an opportunity to lead worship when we really wanted to. Or we face a relational conflict that we choose to hold onto unforgiveness. (ouch! :)) Even deeper, maybe we are not resonating with the pastor of our church family. The root of disappointment is our expectations are not being met. We then find ourselves in a place where the enemy is given permission to bring doubt, bitterness, or division in a church worship family. The grace of Jesus gives us a way to fight disappointment with faith. He longs to empower us to seek understanding and trust His best for us. A key question I have been putting into practice from a pastor friend, Leah Wenger, “Jesus, show me what I am not seeing” in a given situation or relationship. I want to be a leader who will rise up and walk out disappointment in a healthy way. This may mean having a hard conversation to seek understanding, surrendering my will, and believing Jesus will work all things together not just for my good, but our good. (Romans 8:28)
3. Be thankful in and for every season. It is easy to discard the tough seasons and just ride on the glory of the good seasons. 🙂 But, we then miss what Jesus has done or is doing in us. To “go the distance”, God is asking for leaders who will celebrate the goodness of God in ALL seasons. The fruit of this practice is spiritual rest. We can then lead and serve from a place of peace and not anxiety. Lead from a place of love and not unforgivenes. Lead from a place of trust and not fear.
My prayer is for a generation of worship leaders that will worship in spirit and in truth, whose hearts are firmly planted in the soil of God’s love. I pray that we could embrace the work of the cross and declare its freeing truth. Let’s be leaders who say ‘yes’ to a Jesus-centered life, who rest in trust, and give glory to God at all times, and we will “go the distance”.