Is it the skinny jeans? The Taylor guitar? The brown boots? The basic t-shirt? While there are plenty of aspects to character as well as skill that could be said on this subject, here are 5 things we believe are core to being a “good” worship leader:
1. Intimacy with Jesus
We know “intimacy” can be a scary word. In its purest form, it’s close relationship. We all experience levels of intimacy with every single relationship we have though it looks different depending on those specific relationships. Intimacy, as in any relationship, is vital in our relationship with the Lord. In the Psalms, we find David writing about how there is nowhere he can hide from God and how God knows him better than he knows himself — to the point where he asks God to reveal any anxious or offensive ways/thoughts inside of him! David recognizes his need for the Lord and how the Lord knows him better than he even knows himself because God was the one who knit him together inside of his mother’s womb (Psalm 139). The act of “knitting me together inside of my mother’s womb” is a picture of incredible intimacy. How much closer could a person get?
Because God has created us intimately, he has also created us for that kind of relationship with Him.
Because God has created us intimately, he has also created us for that kind of relationship with Him. Intimacy with Jesus is allowing yourself to enter that secret place. It’s seeing Jesus as your best friend. It’s making time where you have no agenda besides opening yourself to hear what He wants to speak to you. As you experience intimacy, you get to know the Father’s heart. This is the best place to lead from.
2. Don’t Lead Alone
This doesn’t mean that it’s never just you with a guitar or a piano (or whatever creative way you could be the only person physically leading worship). It’s OK to be the only person in the position of leading, but, don’t do it in your own strength. Some people have a personality where leading worship can give them life, and for others it may be the most nerve-wracking thing they do all week. In either case and anywhere in between, it’s non-negotiable to do it with the Lord. You cannot lead people to worship the King of Kings if you’re the King on your throne.
You cannot lead people to worship the King of Kings if you’re the King on your throne.
The extremes could look like either letting your fear take center stage or wanting affirmation for yourself. It’s not a sin to get “praise” for doing a good job, but if that’s what you’re living for, it’s an idol. It’s not a sin to experience fear and emotion, but if that’s what is guiding you, you’re missing power the Holy Spirit wants to pour over you. Leading people to worship the one true God, whether it’s just your little sister or a church of 30,000, is an honor. Honor Him by letting Him be with you and lead you.
3. Live a Lifestyle of Integrity
This is huge. It’s easy to go through the motions of looking like a perfect and holy person on the outside or in front of everyone, but what’s happening the rest of time? Who are you when you’re not on stage? What are the thoughts that are passing through your mind? What kind of conversations are you having? What are you watching? Who are your friends and what’s your purpose in keeping the company you do? This list is not only for people who have a position of leadership, but there’s even more weight and cost to having position. What you allow into your own heart, mind, body and spirit has potential to effect more people than just you. Integrity is choosing to do the right thing even if no one is looking. As a worship leader, you are called to integrity. Don’t let compromise destroy the potential of what you can build with the Lord for His Kingdom!
What you allow into your own heart, mind, body and spirit has potential to effect more people than just you.
4. Keep Growing
There is always room for improvement. Don’t take this to the extreme of believing you’ll never be good enough, but, don’t let yourself stay where you are at. God has given you a gift and when He gives us a gift, we get to steward them. In the parable of the talents, the master was pleased with his servants who went and doubled what He gave them. The one who buried them in order to preserve them was rebuked. Don’t take what God has given you and just sit in it. If you have a voice, keep learning and working on your control and pitch. If you play guitar, learn new chords, strumming styles, and picking patterns. If you’re a drummer, keep learning new rhythms and fills. Keep developing your skills!
Don’t take what God has given you and just sit in it.
To add, keep mentors in your life who are where you want to be and learn from them. Let them teach you. Let them pour into you. Let them tell you their mistakes so you don’t have to make the same ones. Let them speak truth to you even when it’s the kind you don’t want to hear. Find humility, and walk in it— it’s necessary for growth!
5. Communicate and Communicate Well
Communication is key to most things, and being a worship leader is one of those things. Most of the time, you’re going to be working with a team. A team consists of people and people need to know what’s up. Let your team know what your set is with enough time for them to be prepared. Communicate your expectations for them. Let them know what practice is going to look like and what needs to happen when. Good communication eliminates any sort of hidden agendas or false expectations and avoids unnecessary hurt.
You are capable of good communication, humility and continued growth, living with integrity, and leading with the Lord and out of your intimacy with Him. None of these things have to be weighty things that keep you from walking in what the Lord has for you. With Him, you are capable.