Thursday, March 26, 2009

I am a worship leader. (And so are you.)

While contemplating God's love letter to artists, and directly on the heels of a message at church last night about the ways in which Satan attacks Christians, I find myself staring directly into the eyes of some of the same old insecurities that have haunted me over the past few months. I'm ready to 'fess up about those now.

I have some musical talent. I think I can even offer a pretty objective evaluation of that talent:

  • I sing, but my voice is thin in higher registers and can suffer pitch control problems in lower ones. And, probably due to vocal abuse, the clean tone I could produce ten years ago is giving way to something more crackly.
  • I play guitar, but am self-taught, and have never invested enough into learning either the acoustic or electric guitars to move beyond competence and into proficiency.
  • I'm not such a fine songwriter. I'm lyrically uninspired, and melodically challenged. But I'm really good at taking another person's song foundation and enhancing it (with neat arrangements, harmonies, counter-melodies, motifs, and so on).
  • I can wield digital audio software skillfully, and have even developed some pretty neat sonic "tricks" that have served me well. But I can't seem to produce output that sounds quite like I envision. (A recent attempt at something Counting Crows-ish was referred to — behind my back, mind you — as "yacht rock", with an apparent Air Supply influence. Ouch.)

I think it's healthy for folks to be able to recognize what they truly can and can't do. Wouldn't you agree?

Then here come the demons. "Why, again, are you helping to lead worship at yet another church? You don't fit the mold. Real worship leaders have hip haircuts; wear trendy clothes; are 10 lbs. underweight (instead of 20 lbs. over); have at least eight stomp boxes and a sound engineer devoted solely to their rockstar groove; sing with perfect pitch, tone, and timbre; and can spew God-honoring utterances while ripping fingers-of-fury blazing guitar solos. With their eyes closed and both hands raised to the heavens. You are no worship leader. You are, at best, background noise."

Oh, man, that stuff stabs. Plunge. Twist. Gush. (It hurts even now, just thinking about it.) But that's okay — I figured out some time ago how to protect myself from those barbs. See, I've dealt with this in the past by simply denying that I was (or was attempting to be) a worship leader. I was "just trying to help with the music program", or something like that. After all, the Enemy can't beat me in a race I refuse to run, right?

Sadly, I was wrong: I am defeated because I refuse to run. My responsibility as a created being — the tax on my very existence — is to worship the Creator. But my responsibility as a human is to lead (by encouragement, example, or otherwise) my fellow humans to do the same. My roles as a husband and father, especially, demand this service to my wife and children. And how can I be seeking loopholes in the Covenant when I've failed to lead those who I would consider some of my closest friends to worship God with me? No, whether I accept the label of "worship leader" or not, the responsibility is mine. God's will begins with thanksgiving and worship.

I appreciate the perspective Geoff Janes provides on the search for God's will at http://geoffreyjanes.blogspot.com/2009/03/what-is-gods-will-for-my-life.html. I should consider myself fortunate to have discovered — through the talents God has given me and the discernment of trustworthy others — a piece of God's extended will for me at this time: demonstrating that thanksgiving and worship with a guitar in hand at Providence Baptist Church. It may only be for a season — that is not mine to know. But at any cost, I must therefore seek only to do that will, and waste neither energy nor emotion chasing the unattainable stereotype constructed by the Enemy. My skills are not worthy of renown. Fortunately, they weren't fashioned for that purpose.

So today, I reject as invalid the notion that leading worship isn't my job. I accept as valid criticism that I've not been particularly good at this in the past. I apologize to my family and friends for not living a life that consistently and convincingly compels you to worship, too — love demands better than that. And as for that background noise I'm ever-so-capable of? I'm cool with that. But may it be a joyful noise from this day forward.

1 comment:

  1. As I wipe away the tears so I can comment I am so thankful that you wrote this. Good thing God wants our availability not our ability. I have been struggling with this very thing of feeling insecure with my own abilities. Thanks for opening up and sharing your heart. I hope you can now worship like you've never worshiped before.
    Love your sister in Christ,
    Heather Rapp Harris

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