I am a big proponent of worship leaders thinking seriously about their role, thinking deeply about their theology, thinking practically about their skills, and thinking critically about current trends and pressures. A lack of introspection, evaluation and hard conversations will inevitably result in a shallowness and flimsiness that doesn’t serve the church well. To put it succinctly, worship leaders should always be growing up.
But if there is a downside to all of this serious/deep/practical/critical thinking, it could be that sometimes we lose our childishness.
There is such a wealth (praise God) these days of solid resources/articles/blogs/videos/conferences/books aimed at getting worship leaders to grow up and into their pastoral role and their function as ministers of the gospel. Most of the time, it’s all really solid stuff. But sometimes I fear that some of it might run the risk of making us lose our childishness.
In the gospels, we have three different accounts of Jesus embracing children, saying “let the little children come to me” (Matthew 19:14). In all three accounts, people bring their children to Jesus, the disciples try to keep the children away and Jesus tells the disciples to stop. And then Jesus says that he wishes everyone was more like the children!
Fundamentally, we must always come to Jesus like a child. Helpless. Transparent. Needy. Light-hearted. And, yes, clueless. But the thing about a child’s cluelessness is that it’s two sided: (1) They don’t know a lot of stuff that grown-ups know, but (2) they don’t know what they don’t know (and they don’t care). Is it any wonder why Jesus points to childishness as an ideal?
There’s a difference between childishness and immaturity. And to all the resources, articles, blogs, videos, conferences and books aimed at helping worship leaders grow and mature, I say “the more the merrier.” But when I start to feel like I’m a child being turned away from Jesus because I don’t know enough stuff, I start to get nervous. And so should you.
So where’s the balance?
1. Always pursue growth. And always pursue leading in a more mature, skillful way. That honors the God who gave you the gifts you have (and some gifts you might not know you have).
2. Stay childish. And help your congregation stay childish too. Come to Jesus like little children. You might not know everything, you might not say everything the right way, and (gasp) you might even exhibit joy in your body/hands/feet (children are known to do that from time to time …). But that’s what you do when you’re a child. You’re helpless, transparent, needy, light-hearted, and clueless too.
In the disciples’ eyes, there seemed to be two different types of people around Jesus: the disciples and the children. Perhaps Jesus’ point was that, if he had his way, there wouldn’t be any difference between the two? Worship leaders, let’s not forget it.