In these days full of successful Christian worship bands such as the highly popular Hillsong worship team in Australia, the Christian music world has become glamorized. For many, singing into a microphone with a band backing you up and “stealing the show” sounds like nothing but fun. How hard can it really be? Picking out the songs for worship would be pure joy, wouldn’t it? And leading the worship team, and ultimately the congregation is easy, right? Being a young worship leader myself, these were all things I once thought. Leading worship will be easy and fun. But if you ever get the responsibility of leading people into worship, you will soon see how much work it really is. That’s right, I said work. So if you think you are up to the challenge of becoming a worship leader, read this first and get a heads up on what you are getting into. It is more challenging than it seems.
When I was finally confident enough in my musical and vocal capabilities, I became the youth worship leader at our church. I was so excited. I couldn’t see anything that I wouldn’t like about it. I soon discovered that there is a lot of behind the scenes work that must be done before even stepping up to the microphone. Picking out music started out to be a blast, until the music selection seemed to get smaller and smaller every week, and it soon seemed like we were repeating songs until they lost all meaning. And choosing songs is a chore. It takes a lot of time to dwell on the direction you think you need to go for the worship service for that day. On top of that, you have to pull the music for yourself and the worship team. Sure, it doesn’t sound difficult, but you’d be surprised how draining it gets having to select and pull music every week.
Another aspect of leading worship I wasn’t expecting was trying to lead the worship team. Like anything else, it seems there is always that one person who tries to make things difficult, and has trouble following your leadership. You have to be a strong enough leader to keep the rest on track with you. A passive person cannot be a worship leader. You have to be assertive and confident, and tell people with respect what they need to be doing to make the best worship experience for the congregation. Practices can seem long and oftentimes disastrous, making you wonder if you’ll even make it through the worship service smoothly. Leading worship is a commitment. You must be completely dedicated to your ministry no matter how bad or good things seem to be going on your team. As worship leader, much responsibility lies on your shoulders.
Many people who would love to lead worship think that leading the service looks very fun and easy. There are a lot of people who enjoy singing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they should be leading worship. There are three things I believe a worship leader must have to be their best:
- A worship leader needs to have a confident, strong voice. A leader with a timid voice that trails off would be very hard for the congregation to follow.
- A worship leader needs to be sensitive to the flow of the service, and to the Holy Spirit. Is the congregation falling asleep, or are they right on the brink of entering the throne room? The difference may be in whether you decide to repeat a song, or maybe let the instruments play while you let the congregation pray and sing on their own to God. Being sensitive may be one of the hardest parts in being a worship leader, especially if nerves get in the way.
- A worship leader must be humble. You are singing as unto the Lord, not to impress the man or woman in the third row. Worship is not a show. It is not about what fancy thing you can do with your voice or on your instrument. You may be impressing man with your talent, but are you pleasing God with your worship? That should be the greatest desire of any real worshipper.
Worship leading is not for everyone, and for those that God has anointed to lead, it should not be taken lightly. Don’t think that leading worship is the ultimate position in the church, because it’s not. It’s just another part of the body of Christ. One part is not any more important than the other. Pray and seek God for where your place is, whether it be with worship or another area in the church. And don’t buy into the idea that leading worship is only for the super-spiritual, because God gives us all different gifts that are unique, and He will be pleased when you choose to use the gifts He specifically gave you.