Under qualified, over-zealous, and maybe just a little bit misunderstood. Your heart burns for an overwhelming response to every lyric that leaves your tongue. You search for fresh and cutting-edge songs that will inspire your ministry to experience the next level that you so desperately long to know. You’ve had your fair share of blank stares and over-exaggerated yawns in the middle of your sets. Or maybe by the end, you open your eyes to more that are slouching in their seats than engaged in your favorite chorus. Be encouraged, my familiar friend. You are not alone.
I was fourteen years old in front of six or seven friends in my youth group when I first started leading worship. I knew four chords on my Washburn acoustic and the chorus to “How He Loves” by John Mark McMillan. That was all that I had, but it was the cry of my heart. Slowly, I would learn more songs with more words and, thankfully, more chords. The more I poured my love on Jesus, the more opportunity He would give me to lead others to that same place. From youth events to women’s conferences. From inner-city sidewalks to low-security prisons. In English, Spanish, and words that don’t exist because I completely ruin lyrics. We all can’t be great at everything, right? In my diverse experiences of leading worship, I have learned a few vital keys that have helped me through.
1. Responses are not always outward.
Who are we to say that God cannot move in the heart of man in a way we do not see? Leading worship is much less a challenge when we are not looking for an outward response to applaud our performance. The goal of leading worship is not to get a response. The goal of leading worship is to offer an invitation. When we authentically lead in worship we offer an invitation for others to join and the Holy Spirit draws the heart of man to respond. Now, don’t get me wrong. Is outward response a crucial aspect of worship? Absolutely. Is it our job to make people respond? No.
2. There will always be someone that you think is better than you.
Do not let comparison steal your unique identity in Christ. It is so important to develop your gift, but it is much more important to develop your walk with the Lord. If you do not know how to reach heaven in your home, you will not know how to get there on a platform. Practice seeking Jesus by yourself. Let it become a regular part of who you are, and you will feel no need to compare.
3. You will have a train wreck. You will be okay.
One time, we went an entire set singing “More of me and less of You, Jesus!” Enough said. (I took a long water break to recuperate from that one)
4. Be authentic.
You have a unique love that only you can offer to the Father. When you are open and honest in your worship it invites others to do the same. Regardless of how pretty it sounds, people connect with realness.
5. Make Jesus famous.
Leading worship is not your time to shine or offer a five-minute sermon. If it adds to the service, go for it. Step out in faith and He will absolutely meet you there. But if it takes away from Jesus and puts the light on you, it’s not effective.
So. To the worship leader who feels under qualified, over-zealous, and maybe just a little bit misunderstood:
– You are much qualified. In fact, He specifically chose you for a position that only you can fill. Rise up in confidence and take it.
– You are zealous. You are fervent. You are passionate. Your love for Jesus is radical and inspiring. The church needs your example.
– Maybe just a little bit misunderstood. Luke 7:36-50 speaks of a woman who anoints the feet of Jesus with an alabaster box. Her story is known as one of the greatest acts of worship, yet we never even knew her name. Misunderstood by the Pharisees when she poured her prized possession on the feet of Jesus. He chose an unnamed, misunderstood woman, as our prime example of loving worship. He understands you, I promise.
You are exactly where He wants you to be, worship leader. Keep burning with passion. Never, ever apologize that your heart is on fire.
About the Writer
Katie Conrad is currently a full-time student at Liberty University and has served in worship ministry since the age of fourteen. She has directed and assisted in directing numerous camps including Petersburg Free Camp, Virginia’s first camp experience offered to any child free of cost. She has also coordinated several events including “Songs in the Night” encouraging others to pursue creativity freely. Katie has spoken at women’s conferences, young-adult gatherings, teen retreats, and children’s meetings across the southern states. She is a devoted learner, an avid adventurist, and lover of all things Target.