Worship for me is about much more than singing songs of praise to God. To me, worship encompasses my life as a whole. My daily existence is my act of worship to God. The decisions I make, the words I speak, the actions I take, and the thoughts I think are all part of how I worship. When I am engaged in prayer and study, I’m worshipping. When I’m actively showing love to others, I’m worshipping. When I’m helping someone in need, I’m worshipping. When I’m parenting with a God-centered heart, I’m worshipping. When I’m showing respect and love toward my husband, I’m worshipping. Each of these things contributes to my daily act of worship. As these things have become a regular part of my daily life, I have seen and felt my desire to worship grow stronger. The more I focus on God, the more I see Him in my daily life.
Worship as part of a praise team is a completely different entity. And for me, it’s much more complicated. It’s simultaneously fulfilling and frustrating. It is both the place in which God allows me to see my value, yet He also humbles me. It is the moment when I either worship God with everything in me, or I worship myself. It is a time when I wrestle between the absolute joy I feel when pouring my heart out to God through song, and the constant nag of the musician in me to focus too earnestly on the technical aspects of the music.
It’s no secret that I love to sing. Music stirs emotions in me that nothing else can. It’s through music that God really speaks to me. I find myself craving time each day when I can just escape and sing to God. When I allow too much time to go by without praising God through song, I begin to feel empty and distant from Him. Music draws me back to Him. Sometimes, though, this pull to worship Him is so strong that it brings with it deep feelings of discontentment. I want more opportunities than I currently have. Many times, I feel so overwhelmed by my passion to use my voice to bring glory to God that I become frustrated with the fact that more doors haven’t been opened for me in that area. It’s difficult for me to patiently trust that God gives me exactly what He wants for me. I am forced to admit that I struggle with wanting to push my own agenda rather than trust in God’s.
As a trained vocalist, the struggle to let go of musicianship during worship is strong and difficult to overcome. It can easily overshadow the entire purpose of the worship assembly. I can become so wrapped up in listening to myself and critiquing my own ‘performance’ that I completely miss the opportunity to worship. I find myself frequently redirecting my focus off of my voice and back onto God. This is a dangerous place to be. It is far too easy for me to practice self worship rather than truly worshipping my God.
I am confident that God has gifted me with a special talent. I am confident that He has instilled in me the passion to use that talent to serve Him. I am confident that He will equip me to fulfill that purpose. Yet still, I’m riddled with self-doubt. I find myself ‘needing’ reassurance that I’m doing a good job, that I’m an asset to the team, that my role on the team is important. There are times when Satan gets ahold of me and convinces me that my abilities don’t amount to anything. I know better than to allow those thoughts to creep in and take over, but still they do. It’s in this way that God is teaching me to rely solely on Him for approval. He is constantly reminding me that my value lies in Him, and not in what others think of me or my abilities.
Worship ministry is most definitely where God wants me, of that I’m convinced. But I’m a work in progress. I haven’t gotten it all figured out. I’m still learning to use my gift solely for His glory. I’m still learning how to get out of my own way so that I can fully worship Him.
Some thoughts from Matt Redman’s The Unquenchable Worshipper:
The Unquenchable Worshipper:
“There is a kind of worshipper who ‘always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres’ (1 Cor 13:7), and who gets through the storms of life with a heart still blazing…We may be hard-pressed on every side, weary and not able to sense God. But then a choice faces us – to fix our eyes on the circumstances or to cling to God and choose to worship Him, even when it hurts.”
The Undone Worshipper:
“God’s presence invaded my heart in a new and powerful way. But it wasn’t one of those tender, reassuring times. All it did was make me want to repent. Rising to the surface of my heart came those little unspoken attitudes and thoughts that had passed by unnoticed and which I now saw had offended the heart of God: little bits of pride and feeding too much off people’s support instead of looking for my heavenly Father’s approval.”
“As a servant I was dispensable – servants come and go, and God can choose any of us to do any job in His kingdom. As a worship leader I was replaceable – God could have used anyone for the events that we’d been privileged to be a part of. But as a son and as a child of God, I was indispensable.”
The Undignified Worshipper:
“God’s throne room allows no room for the proud. If we’re to usher others into that place of holy beholding, we need to make sure there’s nothing in us that, deep down, still wants to be the center of attention. He must increase and we must decrease. He must become greater and we must become less.”
The Unpredictable Worshipper:
“There’s a very real sense in which the Holy Spirit is ultimately the worship leader – He is the agent of everything meaningful that happens in our worship times…The human worship leader then becomes more of a lead worshipper who tries to follow the leadings of the Holy Spirit and throw himself or herself wholeheartedly into worship as an example for others to follow.”
“Worship is a spiritual event long before it is ever a musical event.”
The Unveiled Worshipper:
“The hand of Christ is strong enough to uphold the heavens, and gentle enough to wipe away our tears.”
“But there’s also a time to be still and just know that God is God. This is a time to reflect on who He is and respond with the fewest words and the simplest of songs.”
The Unnoticed Worshipper:
“The toughest test for our hearts doesn’t come ‘out in the fields’ when there’s no one else around. The really hard part begins when we start getting trusted with the public stuff…Do we still want to be unnoticed worshippers now that we’re on a stage? Or is there a part of us that really wants to be noticed worshippers?”
“To draw attention to ourselves in moments meant for a holy beholding is a pretty unbiblical approach. In fact, it’s probably even a dangerous one. Praise is a contradiction of pride…There’s no room for showing off in the holy throne room.”
The Undivided Worshipper:
“Jesus is the perfecter of our faith; true, undivided worshippers follow His example. Nothing can distract, dissuade or deter them from their ultimate goal: the glory and pleasure of God. Dying to themselves and living for Him.”
“Worship first, service second. Interestingly, I find that when I regularly make quiet times to meet with God, I also start becoming much more aware of Him in my everyday activities.”
The Unsatisfied Worshipper:
“Worship does not satisfy our hunger for God – it whets our appetite…The more He touches our lives, the more we realize our desperate need for Him to consume every part of us.”
“When I look back, I begin to see the marks of God’s grace all over my life. The further back I look, the more I see just how much He’s been shaping and healing my heart.”
“There’s a holy, sometimes painful, frustration that cuts right to the heart of the unsatisfied worshipper…God imparts to us His heart for restoration, and a burning desire to see His love and justice heal the nations. But if we’re really to have integrity in our worship, somewhere along the line this desire has to turn into action: share our food with the hungry, clothe the naked and satisfy the needs of the oppressed. We cannot be worshippers who simply walk by, ignoring the realities of this broken world. God longs to bring us to the place where we ache so much with His heart that to do nothing is simply no longer an option.”
“I’m longing to be a worshipper who sets an example for others to follow, not just with my lips, but with my life.”
“God has made it very clear that worship and justice are inseparable.”
The Unending Worshipper:
“An eternity with Jesus in our sights reveals us all as unending worshippers. Let us run with determination the race marked out for us. Straining toward what lies ahead let us press on to win the prize for which God has called us heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
“When the music fades,
All is stripped away,
And I simply come;
Longing just to bring something that’s of worth
That will bless Your heart.
I’ll bring You more than a song,
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required.
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear;
You’re looking into my heart.
I’m coming back to the heart of worship,
And it’s all about You,
All about You, Jesus.
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it,
When it’s all about You,
All about You, Jesus.”