Recently, I had the privilege of leading the music at the Conviction to Lead conference, put on by Cornerstone Church of Knoxville. It was a regional men’s conference for the Sovereign Grace Churches in the mid-South. It was a great time of encouragement, equipping, fellowship and laughter. Topics included The Leader and Conviction, Learning, Vocation, Planning, Parenting, the Home, the Word and the Church. Messages can be downloaded here.
On Friday afternoon, I met with about 40 guys for lunch followed by Q&A on topics related to music and worship. One question had to do with what my counsel would be to a worship leader who was just starting out. I could have rattled off 10-20 things that are important to focus on. But I wanted to keep it simple. So here’s what I said, with a little elaboration.
Live in the good of the gospel.
Living in the good of the gospel at least requires knowing the gospel. The gospel is the good news that Jesus Christ, fully man and fully God, died and rose again to rescue a people from their sins and God’s judgment by bearing their guilt and punishment on himself at the cross (1 Cor. 15:1-4; 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 Pet. 2:24; 2 Cor. 5:21). He did this out of unfathomable love for us and ultimately for the glory of the Father. The gospel isn’t trying to be better, viewing Jesus as a good example or loving everyone. It’s the objective reality of Jesus Christ saving people from death, hell and judgment.
But knowing the gospel isn’t the same as living in the good of the gospel. Living in the good of the gospel means enjoying to some degree all that Jesus died to win for us. Release from condemnation (Rom. 8:1). The joy of knowing we’re adopted into God’s family (Rom. 8:15). The security of God’s faithful love (Rom. 8:37-39). The assurance that God will provide all that we need (Rom. 8:32). Freedom from sin’s power (Gal. 5:24). Victory over our fear of death (Heb. 2:14-15).
I talk to leaders all the time who aren’t living in the good of what Christ accomplished. They constantly battle (and regularly give in to) comparison, envy, self-promotion, discouragement, anxiety, depression, even despair. But make no mistake about it. If we aren’t enjoying the benefits of the gospel, we’ll have a hard time persuading others that it’s the power of God (Rom. 1:16), and will quickly turn to other means to motivate or affect them (riffs, synth pads, graphics, lights, smoke, etc.). We’ll think it’s all about people being amazed by us instead of people being amazed by Jesus.
If that’s you, I’d encourage you to start mining the riches of Christ’s redeeming work. Study gospel passages. Read books like The Cross of Christ, The Gospel for Real Life, Living the Cross-Centered Life, The Gospel Transformation Bible and Gospel Wakefulness. And know that you’ll never think too highly of Jesus and what he accomplished through his life, death and resurrection.
Know the God of the Bible.
God calls every Christian, especially leaders, to know the Word of God and the God of the Word. There are a number of ways we can grow in our knowledge of God, including studying creation, reflecting on our experiences and talking to others. But God has given us the ultimate and authoritative revelation of himself in his Word. All other knowledge of God is to be tested by and weighed against Scripture.