Worship Leader, Don’t Be a Jackass

Once upon a time, there was a young donkey named Thomas who lived in a small village east of Jerusalem. Being the youngest of four didn’t stop Thomas from having great aspirations for his life.

Thomas often shared these aspirations with his older brothers in the form of statements like, “Just you wait, I’m going to be the greatest donkey that ever lived one day!” His brothers found these proclamations endearing. They had always been fond of their baby brother and knew that he meant well.

One day Thomas’ normally quiet village was filled with the hustle and bustle of travelers who had come from all over. Upon inquiring of his brothers, he learned that all the excitement was due to a great feast in Jerusalem.

The energy in the air was irresistible to Thomas and he soon found himself in the middle of the commotion. The poor little donkey had only drunk in the new sounds and sights a few minutes before his owner noticed he’d wandered off and, upon fetching him, tied him to a nearby post.

Thomas hadn’t been tied up long before two men approached him excitedly, untied him and led him away. Though happy to be unrestrained, Thomas felt a bit uneasy about what these two strange men had in store. His uneasiness was stilled when the two men brought him to another man who had the kindest expression Thomas had ever seen on someone.

The kind man’s gentle yet firm stroke on his back somehow assured Thomas that whatever was about to happen was going to be ok. Some cloaks were placed on Thomas’ back and the kind man mounted him. This was Thomas’ first time to ever be mounted and he found it to be more comfortable and dignifying than he had once imagined.

Thomas was ecstatic when he realized that he and his kind rider were being led into Jerusalem. He had dreamt his whole life of the day he would enter the “big city.”

Thomas’ excitement quickly transformed into disbelief as he beheld people’s reception of him. Despite being an insignificant donkey from a small town, people were rolling out the red carpet before him, as it were, throwing their coats to the ground.

Some of the people bowed low as he passed while others jumped up and down with excitement. All that could be heard in the air was singing, shouting and the sound of rejoicing. Undoubtedly, this was the proudest moment of Thomas’ brief life.

Upon arriving at their destination the kind rider gave Thomas one last pat and dismounted him. Thomas couldn’t wait to run home to his brothers and parents and tell them about his unbelievable day.

When he arrived home he called all of his family to come quickly and hear about his amazing experience. He told them how he was led like royalty into the big city and how thousands of men, women, and children cheered for him and celebrated his entry. He told them how for the first time in his life he truly felt significant.

When he was done recounting the events of the day Thomas’ mother looked lovingly into his big eyes and said, “Dear son, you are significant. You are the only one of you that God has made and ever will make. But all of those people weren’t cheering for you, they were cheering for their King.”

Week after week, we worship leaders have the amazing honor and privilege of standing before God’s people to help them encounter their King. Let’s not forget who all of the praise and excitement is for.

All of the celebration on the first Palm Sunday wasn’t for the jackass, it was for their King.

Worship leader, don’t be a jackass.

 Thanks to Matt Redman who told a version of this story at a worship conference I attended in 2002 as well as to Ray Fowler who included a version in a sermon he gave.  
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