3 Ways for Worship Leaders to Let God Do the Heavy Lifting

A “can-do” attitude is something to be praised.  I, however, am often guilty of fraternizing with its less commendable cousin, the “must-do” attitude.  My “must-do” attitude is what convinced me the other day to carry a couch up the stairs to our bedroom all by myself.  It’s a symptom of not realizing that despite the fact I share a first name with Clark Kent, I am not Superman and I have limits.  My “must-do” attitude often leads to self-injury and wounded pride.

Unfortunately, I have been guilty over the years of bringing this attitude into worship leading and it too has resulted in a type of self-injury.  But, by God’s grace, He has lovingly taught me and is still teaching me, to acknowledge my limits and allow Him to do the “heavy lifting” involved in worship leading.  The following are three realizations that have helped me do this:

1. It’s Not My Job to Make People Worship.

I am blessed to be part of a church family that absolutely loves to worship.  Having said that, there are services where the congregation seems less engaged than others.

I used to measure my success as a worship leader by the level of engagement in the room.  Then I realized that it wasn’t my job to make people worship nor did I have the ability to do so even if it was.

Don’t get me wrong, I do believe I have the ability to influence people towards engagement in worship but beyond that, it’s out of my control.  I’ll continue to pray, prepare, practice, get better etc… to increase that ability to influence but at the end of the day, I know that there is Someone else who is much better at moving hearts to worship.

There is no one more excited about influencing people to worship God than the Holy Spirit.  When we gather for worship He Himself is already drawing hearts.  He is stirring passion in people by revealing to them the beauty and irresistible goodness of God.

Consequently, I don’t need to cajole people when I’m leading worship.  I don’t need to command them to engage.  I can lead from a place of rest trusting that the Holy Spirit is doing the heavy lifting of wooing hearts to Jesus.

2. It’s Not My Job to Make God “Show Up.”

I used to believe that it was the worship teams job to “usher in” the presence of God.  I’m not saying there isn’t anything true about that idea, just that there are some whacky ideas that can spawn from such phrases.

I would find myself praying beforehand and during worship from a place of almost begging God to show up.  Prayers like, “please come Lord Jesus!”  I hate to say it but a part of me approached worship from the same mindset of the 450 prophets in 1 Kings 18 who thought they could summon their god by working themselves into a physical and emotional frenzy.  Yikes.

Then I came to realize that God was actually more excited about meeting with us then we could ever be about meeting with Him.  Matter of fact, Jesus is so crazy about being present with His people that in Matthew 18:20 He promised that whenever we would gather He would be present. And the “presence” Jesus promised wasn’t a “fly on the wall” type presence where He would simply stand in the corner and observe but a “moving, speaking, healing etc…” type presence in our midst.

Consequently, I don’t need to feel the heavy weight of somehow pulling God into the room.  I can lead worship from a place of faith that God is indeed present and we just need to acknowledge and open our hearts to Him.

3. There’s No Such Thing As the Perfect Set List.

When I first began leading worship the task of putting together a set list was a heavy task.  After all, there was a scroll in God’s right hand containing the set list for a specific worship time and it was my job to pray it (or pry it) out of His hands.  Right?

Then I heard Irish worship leader Kathryn Scott say something brilliant:  “A set list is like a car.  And it doesn’t matter what kind it is.  It will get you where you want to go as long as you drive it in the right direction.”

I’m all for asking God to guide the preparation process.  There are even times I believe He will lead me to include certain songs.  But in the grand scheme of things all we need is a few songs that are true and engaging and God will breathe on them because that’s what He does.

Consequently, I don’t feel like I need to pry the scroll out of His hands.  I can simply, yet prayerfully, select a few songs and rely on His ability and eagerness to use them to draw hearts to Himself.

Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).  These words are to be more than just a warm and fuzzy idea.  I believe with all my heart they can be, and should be, our experience if we choose to let Him do all of the heavy lifting in worship leading.