If you are a worship pastor/leader, vocalist, or musician, what are things you struggle with most in your ministry?
Take Me Seriously!
I have been so blessed in this past year to be able to discuss this with other worship leaders in my area, but I want to tell you some things with which I struggle. As a female worship pastor, it is very hard to be taken seriously by people outside my church. I can’t tell you how many times I hear, “Oh, you’re the choir director.” No! I’m not a choir director. Haha! Some people think that I get up in front of some massive podium and wave my hands in the air to “direct” the congregation in song. Nope! That’s not me either. Perhaps, these comments are just a product of the traditional church culture here in the southeast. I don’t know. What I want to say is, “I lead the best rock band on earth. They love Jesus and use all of their talents to bring Him glory. And they absolutely blow the roof off the building each week.” I’m not sure, however, if I could get many of the people I come in contact with to actually come to church if I said that though.
Also, I’m not sure, but I think that some find it unsettling for a woman to have the title “Pastor”. And to be honest, I never really imagined that I would be a worship pastor, because there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of other women in the role. (Thank you, Darlene Zschech, for truly being a pioneer for women in music ministry)! I had resigned myself to being the background singer, which would have be ok with me. But that wasn’t what God had called me for! (So then really, that wouldn’t have been ok with me). 😉
Finding the Balance
The second thing I struggle with is balancing raw emotion and intellect in our worship services. Kris Kilgore spoke about this at our Discipleship Class last night. I grew up in a church/denomination that may have been a bit unbalanced in the worship music department. I remember people commenting that the Lord was there only when the music went way over the semi-allotted time, and the pastor only had 10 minutes to preach. And I’m sure we’ve all experience the rush of emotion when the song hits the key change or goes up an octave. There was a huge emotional “out-pouring”, but I’m not sure of there was much of anything else going on intellectually. I run hard and fast from this mindset now, maybe even too far to the other side. I constantly feel this internal battle brewing inside of me when I’m leading worship, because I want so desperately for people to EXPERIENCE God, but I don’t want to manipulate them or make them feel like they are experiencing God when they are truly only experiencing some really great music. Experience and knowledge of who God is MUST go hand in hand. On the flip side, if all I am is a ton of head knowledge in my relationship with God, then I become a cold-hearted and perhaps a half-hearted Christian. Arghhh…it’s such a struggle. I think that as worship leaders, if we don’t struggle with this balance in our minds then maybe we are, in fact, unbalanced. It’s good to constantly re-evaluate this. In Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman, He addresses true worship saying:
‘Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks…’ (vs. 23)
Spirit and truth…the two must be married to one another. Eugene Peterson says it this way in The Message, “Your worship must engage your spirit in the pursuit of truth.”
Talent? Or Lack Thereof?
The last thing that I’ll admit to struggling with is being the leader/authority figure in my band. I have the most talented musicians. Out of all of them, I am truly the least talented. God never ceases to amaze me in how He works, though. He used Moses who stuttered and could never speak quite right. He used David who was a mere boy to slay a giant. Over and over in the Bible, God uses the “least likely to succeed” person to do great and wonderful things…all for His glory. Let me say it this way: If I had talent running out of my eye-balls, it would be very easy for me to steal away the glory in this whole thing. But because I have such limitations, anything that He does through me ultimately brings Him glory, not me! Yes! I have prayed for God to make me a more eloquent speaker and a better musician and singer, but the truth is that maybe that’s not what He requires. 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 says it well:
Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: ‘Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’
Moses is one of my favorite examples of this. In Exodus 3, Moses has the burning bush experience where God calls him to lead His people out of Egypt. A BURNING BUSH!!! How much more of a sign do you need? In Exodus 4, Moses asks God, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you’?” You see, Moses was not eloquent. Throughout the book of Exodus, even though God shows Moses sign after sign that He is with him, Moses questions his calling out of fear that he is not actually capable of doing anything right. Of course, we know that God showed Himself faithful to Moses and the entire nation of Israel.
One of my favorite passages in the Bible comes as Moses is trying to lead the stubborn Israelites to the Promised Land. Again he is questioning his position and authority. Exodus 33:12 states:
Moses said to the LORD, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favor with me.’ If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you. Remember that this nation is your people.” The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here…”
We can absolutely do nothing without His Presence, and if we think we can do it on our own merit or talent, then we have missed it altogether! Honestly, if we ever get to the point where we are doing music ministry out of our own talent, then it is time to step down.
I think we have to get out of the mindset that we hold the position we have simply because of our gifting or talent, because there will always be someone who can come along and sing/play better than we can. I am a worship pastor, because God has called me. He doesn’t necessarily call those who are already equipped. He equips those whom He calls!