What makes a successful worship leader?
Is it when you release a CD? When you are published in some magazine, or song-book? Is it when you are employed to lead a church in worship? Is it filling in for a friend when that person is on holiday, where you play to 12 people? Is success in worship any of those?
By thinking successful worship is any those, is placing this idea of worship within worldly boundaries. You are measuring an interaction between man and God by attributing to it mere human standards.
What is worship? Worship is a response to God, placing value and worth on Him in our lives, focusing on and choosing God at all times. Therefore, to measure worship in terms of how successful it is seems odd. It isn’t a tangible, physical or obvious thing that can be measured. Rather, true worship happens where it cannot be seen. Real worship happens within the individuals heart, as the Holy Spirit prompts it. From there, the person outwardly expresses this worship in the way he or she lives, and “worship times” are those times where these worshipers come together corporately to praise God, a reflection of their worship-filled lives and their relationship with God.
I don’t believe worship can be measured in terms of how successful it is or isn’t. If it were to be, I would say the most successful worship is the person who (1) humbly responds to God in his or her deepest areas of the soul, and (2) is not inhibited to express that worship.
One of my favourite bible passages that deals with worship is 2 Samuel 6:14 – 19. I read this passage as an incredible example of pure, humble, complete worship of God.
David has just defeated the Philistines, recovered the Ark of God, is wealthy, loved by all the Israelites and loved by God. David marches into the City of David with the Ark and a great procession of followers and worshipers; it is all about David – all eyes are on him. What he does next is astounding.
He takes off his royal robes, only wearing a linen ephod. An ephod was the general clothing of priests who served in the temple before God. It was simple, but symbolized that person’s complete dedication to serving the Lord. Secondly, David is dancing and leaping before the Ark as it enters the city, all the way to where the Ark is placed in a tent David himself erected. He was jumping around, rejoicing with all his might, to the point where his own wife is embarrassed by him. Lastly, he worships the Lord in a more conventional way, where he proceeds to bless his people, in the name of the Lord.
It was all about David at this point, but he turns that around, placing the emphasis on God. He was completely dedicated to God, uninhibited to worship the Lord as he pleased. He was not bothered by if he looked silly, or kingly, or not; all his energy was put toward worshiping God.
Louie Giglio uses an example of the devout worshipers of Michael Jackson, from several years ago. In this example he shows a video of MJ’s fans. Now these fans were worshiping MJ with everything they had. They were on their knees, they were literally crying, screaming, longing for Michael. He didn’t even need to sing, he just stood, as he took in the adoration of thousands.
One easily thinks of the Beatles, when at times their music couldn’t be heard over the noise of their adoring, screaming fans.
Giglio comments that the apostle Paul would be pleased with that worship. It is complete, unadulterated, reverential worship. No one is caring about the person next to them. No one is judging the charismatic down the aisle. No one is standing there silently singing, with their hands in their pockets, thinking to themselves, “MJ – or Ringo – you know I love you, singing and dancing just ‘aint my thing”.Everyone is worshiping with all their energy, and with all their might.
Has the modern church lost some of this enthusiasm?
When did it become such an issue to dance around at church, worshiping the one God that really matters. Why is it that we can worship money or a singer to the point where it takes over our lives, yet we approach God with such a relaxed attitude. Perhaps it’s a lack of respect? Maybe we have lost the fear of God? Or maybe it’s just a progression in contemporary worship?
Personally, I’m not sure why it’s such an issue. Even though King David, a man after God’s own heart, did not feel inhibited to worship God in whatever way felt natural, giving Him all the glory, we feel as though we have to conform and play it safe.
My challenge for you is to humble yourselves before God, to accept His Spirit in whatever way it comes, and to express your response to the awesome privilege that is the Gospel in whatever way feels natural. Don’t be hindered by societal pressures. Don’t be afraid of embracing complete worship, focusing – like King David – on God.
True worship like that cannot be beaten, and opens the way to a deeper relationship with God and deeper levels of worship.
Perhaps one day soon, our churches will be similar to an MJ concert; a sea of people uninhibited, praising God with all they have, on their knees, arms raised, crying out, laughing, pointing, singing… Just imagine the power that could have, imagine the impact.
So let’s live lives of complete worship of God, where we are not afraid to step out, like David did.