You’ve been a worship leader at your church for nine months now. When you took the job, you had high hopes for your new ministry. You really clicked with the pastor and some of the search committee members. You had a deep peace that God was leading you to move to this new city and take on a new challenge. And you knew it would be a challenge. The worship team was a mess, the congregation was opinionated, the sound system was laughable, the song repertoire was weak, the drummer couldn’t keep time and the previous worship leader had quit after six months. You were comfortable where you were but took this new job out of obedience to God.
Nine months later and it’s been more challenging than you could have imagined. You’re frustrated with your pastor. A few members of the worship team have stepped down and been vocal in their criticism of you. You look out on Sunday morning and it doesn’t look any one wants to be singing any of the songs you’ve chosen. Whenever you try to introduce a new song people ask why you “sing so many new songs.” You sit in your office during the week and feel like you’re trapped in a bad dream. You visit other churches or attend worship conferences and leave more discouraged and weary because you can’t imagine your own church ever looking like that.
Am I even all that good of a worship leader? What am I doing wrong? Was that person right when he quit the worship team and called me an egotistical control freak? Did I make a mistake taking this job? Would anyone care if I just slept in on Sunday and watched football? How amazing would it feel to tell my pastor “I quit”?
You’re confused, burned out, beaten up, angry and disappointed. Your body is in church on Sundays but your mind has already packed up and moved away. It’s a lost cause. You’ve come to the realization that you’re not cut out to be a worship leader, the church you’ve been serving for two years will never change and you made a mistake ever taking the job.
Don’t give up, worship leader friend. Press on.
“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! (Psalm 126:5)
You are in the thick of real-life church ministry. It can be discouraging, tedious, boring, low-paying and dry. But your labor is not in vain. Every day you are able to drive to that church and serve those people, buy your drummer a cup of coffee and then head back to church and practice with him, talk with your pastor, and get up on Sundays with a desire to help people encounter God in corporate worship, you are making the soil more fertile. One drop at a time. You didn’t make a mistake taking this job; you might have just made a mistake thinking it would be easy. It won’t be easy. But if you’re faithful, it will be fruitful. You will reap that fruit one day.
You are doing the hard work of a worship leader. It isn’t glamorous. Your worship team won’t be recording an album anytime soon, but you love them and encourage them anyway. Your congregation won’t suddenly look like the crowd at the worship conference you attended, but you model and encourage heartfelt singing anyway. Your pastor won’t be speaking at any huge conferences next week or writing any books, but you honor and pray for him anyway. Your Sunday service is a bit boring and predictable, but you keep praying for God to bring a freshness and vibrancy. There isn’t a worship leader in the world who can change a church through his polish and skill. There is a God who can change a church by his Holy Spirit. Keep doing the hard work in the power of the Holy Spirit.
So you’ve been sowing in tears for nine months. You can’t even imagine what shouts of joy would sound like. You’ve worked hard, labored faithfully and done all that you know there is to do. Your high hope has become deep despair.
To the worship leader ready to quit and walk away in retreat, imagine the story in John chapter 21 went like this:
Jesus says to you, “Worship leader, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
He says to you: “Feed my lambs.”
Jesus says to you a second time, “Worship leader, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
He says to you: “Tend my sheep.”
Jesus says to you a third time, “Worship leader, do you love me?”
“Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you.”
He says to you: “Feed my sheep.”
Press on, worship leader friend. May your love for the Savior compel you, and may the power of the Spirit sustain you. Your tearful sowing will one day turn to joyful shouting. Don’t stop feeding his sheep.