Do the hard work of examining your heart for holy worship.
How do we evaluate our hearts when leading music? On a performance level, it is easy to be a critic – just watch the tape and get feedback from others. But how can we accurately assess our hearts when even our own heart is deceitful? The two benchmarks I use to easily evaluate my inward heart motives are prayer and preparation.
If my heart is not in the right place before, during, or after leading, then my musical worship will be in vain. I need to approach God with reverence and holy fear, knowing that it is a privilege to steward the gifts that he has given me. I must pray for myself, for my team, and for the congregation. Ultimately, it’s not the songs or my skill that will change people – only God himself can soften hardened hearts.
On a practical level, we need to ask ourselves: Have I spent time in prayer this week? Have I poured over the sermon text and do I seek to apply it to my own life? Did I pray that God would use me in my weaknesses, or have I relied on my own musical skill to manipulate emotions? A true worship leader is humble enough to pray and bold enough to trust that God will accomplish his purposes.
Music leading is not easy. While the act of playing music might come more naturally, the leading part takes actual effort. I need to prepare on Saturday night and my Sunday routine should be set and ready to go. There are many ways to plan to be a worship servant leader. So I check myself to see if I put in the required work to give God my best. It is not going to be perfect every time. But the overall effort should be evaluated, because it may be indicating a deeper heart issue or unsatisfactory skill-set.
We need to ask ourselves: Have I spent enough time to prepare my set this week? Have I sought out the best songs to match the sermon text? Have I taken the time to prepare my lead sheets, or have I been attempting to play without a plan? A true worship leader is prepared enough to give God his best and flexible enough to go where God leads.
Doing the Heart Work Is Hard and Holy Work
For inexperienced worship leaders, it is easy to focus on the external actions of performing. For the seasoned worship leaders, it is easy to rely on our strength to play. We all need to do the hard work of looking at our hearts and examining ourselves. Don’t measure the success of your worship leading by outward appearances. God looks at our hearts.
Worship leaders should take music leading seriously because we take God seriously. And it is good to consider the souls of saints who sing. To my fellow worship leaders, I challenge you to do the same. Worship is spiritual warfare, so be vigilant in prayer and preparation for the battle. And for those who sing, I encourage you to pray for your leaders and sing in the strength that God supplies.