Isn't it sad when you those foundational truths sneak up and smack you in the face...you know, the ones that you've grown up knowing, the ones, that if asked to preach on, you could do it without notes...I had one of those moments this past weekend.
When I took the job as MD at C3church my Pastor, Dean Sweetman, asked me to put raising people up as one of my top priorities. There's a lot to that request and I was, and continue to be passionate about it. For a long time my heart has been to teach people how to be worshippers, no matter what their function. How to identify what your connection point with God is. It all starts with our own personal relationship with God and flows from there. I heard a pastor preach recently that ministry is the overflow of our time spent with God. WOW! Same goes for anointing. We have no anointing if we haven't spent time with God. Pretty simple right? Well, it goes even deeper.
God gives us grace. Imagine a cup, When you spend time with God he fills that cup up. When you minister (lead worship, preach, prophesy, ect) you pour out some of what's in that cup. You can continue to pour out but eventually you'll be ministering out of your gift instead of anointing. I could say a lot more on that and will at a later time...
I felt the smack this past Sunday morning. We were having a decent morning technically, but I was having to lead the band behind the scenes a good bit and was feeling a little tired from that. I remember asking the Holy Spirit, "Why does this have to be so hard?" And He said..."Because this isn't time to fill yourself up. You're ministering now, pouring yourself out. This is about other people connecting with Me." ouch. A foundational truth I know, but forgot along the way.
Now, this doesn't mean that we won't get a little top off during worship but if we come in on Sunday morning and say, "this is my time to worship" We won't be leading anyone anywhere. We're worship-LEADERS. Whether you're a drummer, BV, sound guy...it matter's if you've got a fresh touch of God on your life. How much more will God move if 20-40 people are operating in the anointing vs one? It's not that God can move any less, He is all-powerful, able to do more than we can imagine...but think about it this way...If you were invited to a party by a really good friend but you weren't close with anyone else attending, you may still go, but the richness of the experience would be vastly different to going to a party with 20 of your closest friends.
It's vitally important that we fill ourselves up before and after we minister, otherwise we're operating out of our gift not the anointing.
Anointing is directly related to how much time we've spent with God. I spoke of this in "Worshipping out of the Anointing: Part 1". To recap: You are a vessel. Time spent with God fills you up. When you lead worship you pour some out. You can only pour out so many times before you need to fill up again... in conclusion, worship leading on empty sucks! Now for part 2... And let me just say that this is not just for worship leaders but for anyone, in any kind of ministry.
A common mistake worship leaders (myself included) make especially in the early years of worship leading is looking at the time we need to spend with God as a task rather than a relationship. There is a great example of this in Luke 10:38. Jesus visits Martha's home and while she's busy fussing about preparing a meal (focusing on task) Mary drops everything to sit at Jesus's feet and hang on every word he says. Martha gets frustrated at the fact that Mary is choosing to not help her and rest at His feet. As a result, Jesus basically tells Martha she's missed it, she views God's presence as a task rather than just enjoying it.
Who doesn't like to be served? If you likened your relationship to God as a marriage it might look something like this... Marriage is all about serving your other half but if all we ever did was bustle about serving each other and never sit to enjoy each other's company we would start to question the other persons motives for serving. God wants to enjoy our company, to speak to us just as much as we speak to him. He wants for us to go on a date with him rather than just give him a kiss on the way out the door.
Look at spending time with God as you would a best friend or spouse. It causes your feelings of inadequacy to fade and you will gain the confidence to lead from a standpoint of knowing God and his character.
As a worship leader I have often described what our team does as being on the front lines of a battle. The battle is over people's focus during a worship service. People come in from all kinds of situations, dealing with all kinds of distractions; finances, relationships or just plain apathy. The job of the worship team is to take their focus off their problems and onto God. This is not always so easy. Technical issues arrise, perhaps we struggle from insecurities (and who doesn't), tension with others can also be an obstacle.
A few weeks ago, when we finished our two Sunday morning services I felt as if I had "run the guantlet". Although the music, sound, lights and video were all fine, I felt like I came out of it with a couple of hits. Like we had faced an increased amount of resistance. I believe the supernatural battle that we can't see can actually affect us in the natural. That's why it's so important to be prayed up and filled with the Holy Spirit.
At the end of the worship service I got a text saying worship was so powerful. Well in my mind it didn't feel that way, but because I pressed through, someone connected with God. I also got a major download at the end of that service. I saw people writing their own revelations down in their notebooks which tells me all I need to know. Even when you have a tough worship service God will use it. He moves despite the resistance, despite the technical issues or tension with those you serve with. He will honor the battle you fight. The wounds will heal and the scars will be reminders of the battles we've faught and won.
It’s easy to compare ourselves to other great leaders, pastors and worship leaders and feel like we don't measure up. When I first began worship leading at C3 Church ATL I was following in the footsteps of the mega talented, Jacky Bridgstock. She had just moved back to Australia and I began serving with some other extremely talented worship leaders. They each had their own style and strengths vocally that carried into their worship leading. I struggled for months, feeling my voice was too shaky, too low, too pitchy, blah, blah, blah... we all have our insecurities don't we?!
One night in a group conversation I remember one of the worship leaders I looked up to saying that she had felt insecure about her leading too! I sat in disbelief - surely she knows how good she is?! She went on to say that she realized that she needed to focus on what she was good at and not compare herself to all of us (don't know if she included me in that at the time but since I'm pretty confident now I'll just go ahead and assume she was).
While I can assure you I still sometimes have to pray my confidence into existence even now, I do know that I needed that revelation to shape who I would and still am becoming. It's not about a gift. It's not even about being the best at your particular strength. It's about your assignment. What did God ask YOU to do. What is it that you do really well, even if it's quirky? I'm really good at admin...Does that make me a really good worship leader...obviously not. But I take all of the pieces that make me unique and give them back to God by serving my Pastors like I'm serving Him. I decide to focus on keeping my strengths my strengths and do little things to improve my weaknesses.
A guy who currently serves in our Visual Arts team originally approached me about singing BV's. I encouraged him to plug in behind the scenes and prove his reliability with something out of the spotlight and then we could talk after a couple of months. What happened next was amazing (clearly, as I'm using it as an example...) He found his niche'! He volunteered to create things that most of the other's on the team didn't desire or have time to do. He is my favorite example because he's operating fully in the unique way God created him.
We need to remember that God made us each unique. He gave us each our own assignment and when we understand our individual personality, gifts and pathways we will begin to find confidence in who he created us to be.
A week ago the band for the week was praying as we do prior to practice. As we were praying together and things became quiet and we began to linger I had a vision of each of us bringing something to the fire that was in the middle of us… (No I have not been camping or around a campfire recently…) We were standing at the alter and there was a fire there that was started by us praying and it was fueled by God! Everything that we brought to this fire… be it big timber, sticks, or kindling was growing the flame.
As we came together in prayer He was right there in the middle of us lighting a flame for us to build as high as we wanted to. Some of us were bringing our worries and frustrations of life… Some were bringing our hard week and laying it down… Some were bringing praise… Some were bringing inspiration for others… All in all we were building a place where the Holy Spirit could come and work in our church. We were building up the alter for people to come and continue to let go of things and also to praise God.
Dean spoke on fear Sunday and how it can take anyone over if we allow it.
His words really spoke to me because of fears that I have been dealing with for the past year and a half. My recent experience where my throat swelled up and blocked my airway really freaked me out. I was having anxiety attacks for months after that until it was clear to me that I needed an operation to fix it. Since then I would still allow myself to walk in fear that my throat would swell up and I wouldn’t be able to breath. I was in fear of every little pain in my body thinking something was drastically wrong and totally blowing things out of proportion.
It took a while but I am placing trust in God and changing my outlook to be more positive. There is a need to give these fears up to one another. We have to share them with others to let them go. We also have to bring them to the alter and put that timber in the fire to let God take it. When we do this it no longer has power over our lives and we can become stronger for ourselves, and everyone around us. We become better servants and leaders.
As worship leaders we are called to have the alter ready for every meeting that we are part of. All of the aspects of worship that we use with visual arts and music is key in making this happen. However it all starts and ends with each one of us preparing the altar for the Holy Spirit to thrive. Let’s always keep the fire going as high as we can and never allow our fears to get in the way of what God has for each of us and this church!