I recently was asked to lead worship for a small retreat. I asked lots of questions about who was coming, sought the Lord about what God wanted me to do, prayed while putting together set lists and then sent the lists ahead at the request of the people putting the retreat together. I was ready to go. We arrived at our destination and minutes before I was to lead worship I was handed four chord charts picked from the songs I selected and was told here are the songs we’re doing tonight. I was also told that I couldn’t teach any new songs (including my own) until the end of the week when the majority of people were gone. When I was young, I would have thought in my head… don’t you know who I am? Don’t you know how anointed I am? Don’t you know that I’ve led worship in arenas with over 17,000 people? Don’t you know that my songs are sung all over the world? Instead what I said was, awesome. I’m here for you. Let me know how I can serve you. The worship was sweet. The Presence of God was evident. After a couple of worship sessions, I was given the freedom to do whatever the Lord led me to do. Why? I gained their trust by serving them.
The Bible tells us in Mark 9:35, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” This is the distinguishing trait between a talented worship leader and a great worship leader. A great worship leader has learned that the church isn’t there to support his talent and ministry, but that the worship leader is there to serve the church. Keep in mind the context that Jesus is speaking in when Mark records these words. Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a mountain and there meets Moses and Elias. They witness the transfiguration of Jesus. They have this incredible spiritual experience where they see something that none of the other disciples saw. It creates a private discussion between the three of them about the resurrection. I can only imagine that they probably felt pretty special. Like maybe they were more blessed than all the rest. After all, we saw the transfiguration of Jesus.
Have you ever considered what you would have done if you were them? Probably write a book? Go on television? Tell your story on Oprah? Maybe turn your experience into the greatest worship experience with a simulated digitally enhanced transfiguration scene starring… YOU!!! You can’t really fault them when later on we read that they were discussing who was the greatest among them. After all, they were specially picked by the Jesus to witness this event. But notice Jesus’ response. What makes you great isn’t this spiritual experience that you witnessed. What makes you great is you’re a servant of all. I’ve met a number of talented worship leaders, but only a few great worship leaders.