Dear worship leader, musician, singer and creative artist, we know the drill: shiny guitars and red keyboards. Set designs and set lists. Countdowns and title packages. Custom patches and custom in-ears. Smiling greeters and smiling worship leaders. Jangly guitars and pumping fists. Backing tracks and backing vocals.
They are, in fact, elements of weekend services. And…I love them. All of them.
At the core, those things are superfluous, but in my heart (and in the heart of many leaders), they are tools that represent our desire to push the envelope of creativity, serve our congregations with methods that point clearly to Jesus, and display excellence unto the Lord, because after all, He deserves the best that we have within our hands.
BE MOTIVATED BY EXCELLENCE
I place a high value upon excellence and admire people who do the same. But excellence isn’t simply a point of personal appreciation. In fact, excellence is a biblical mandate. Recorded in Colossians 3:23-24, the apostle Paul said, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” When we demonstrate excellence, we demonstrate the nature of our God who is excellent. But excellence is not to be confused with the slippery, frustrating slope of perfection. Often, the pursuit of perfection is an elusive and unattainable trap that yields minimal progress. Hidden within that misguided pursuit is the temptation to become distracted from our primary purpose as creative artists: lifting the name of Jesus.
DON’T GET DISTRACTED
On the subject, the writer of Hebrews admonishes us best, as recorded in Hebrews 12:2 (AMP): “Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]…” As it pertains to us worship artists, I believe there are three distractions that knock on our door regularly.
In the 2000 hit alternative song “My Way,” an anthem of self-reliance and pride is made known: “Yeah this time I’m ‘a let it all come out / This time I’m ‘a stand up and shout / I’m ‘a do things my way / It’s my way / My way, or the highway.” How many of us subtly serve in ministry with this theme at work in our hearts? You know what I’m talking about, especially as artists: “I think…I prefer…I feel.” Now, there’s certainly nothing wrong with having an opinion and preference. But being opinionated about issues that really don’t concern us is detrimental to the long-term health of our teams and the overall development of our potential. More specifically, Webster’s Dictionary defines individualism as “the belief that the needs of each person are more important than the needs of the whole society or group; the actions or attitudes of a person who does things without being concerned about what other people will think.”
We all have limitations, and as such, allowing others’ perspectives into our lives helps us grow in areas we would otherwise miss. Point being, we don’t know what we don’t know! I believe it’s for that reason Solomon advised us, “Where there is no counsel, purposes are frustrated, but with many counselors they are accomplished” (Proverbs 15:22 AMP). And if that wasn’t enough evidence that we can’t successfully navigate life on our own, in Ecclesiastes 4:12 (MSG), he said, “By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.” The second common distraction to worship artists is comparison.