Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever – Westminster catechism
Just to be clear, glorifying God in this context does not just mean giving glory to God in worship, at least not in my opinion. It is talking about showing the character and glory of our God in all we do and say.
This is the level that those who lead musical worship should seek to attain and you will notice that I don’t include any reference to a level of musical competance in that. This is because, in such a highly visible ministry, character is always more important than gifting. This is obviously not to say a level of technical skill isn’t a good thing but it can’t guard us against potentially being sidelined by sin. How good our character is can.
It is natural that if we do a good job of leading worship, and here I include all worship musicians and singers, people will appreciate it and let us know how much they appreciate it. That is great when it happens, and it feels much better than when they let you know it didn’t work for them!
So how do we react? What we don’t do is say something like “Oh it wasn’t anything to do with me, it was God”. If that was the case, you might just as well send just your instrument next time and see how well that works!
I don’t mean to be flippant by saying that but if God doesn’t turn up, it doesn’t matter how well you play or otherwise. Far better to reply “Thank you for saying that, I appreciate it and I’m glad you were helped/blessed by it”. That way you return the conversation to what that person has just experienced from God, removing you from the equation.
At all times, the aim of the worship leader or musician should be to introduce the congregation to God and take a step back to allow their relationship to grow with Him. This is why I am not a fan of worship musicians acting like the entertainment, doing things that are common in the secular music scene which after all is all about the musician or singer.
I am not at all against musicians going off-piste when they feel the leading of the Holy Spirit but I would be dubious about it happening at every meeting in a regular church situation. What musicians need to realize is that a normal congregation is not made up of other musicians who might more easily be lead into God’s presence by either virtuosity or extended soloing.
One thing I will say in finishing, although this article barely scratches the surface of the subject, normally you can’t lead someone to someplace you haven’t been yourself. That means that the worship experience of the people you are leading in worship will be limited to what you yourself have experienced.
So for instance if you are hoping to lead into more intimate expressions of worship you need to have experienced it yourself. Having said that, if the whole church is earnestly seeking God in worship, if He moves sovereignly, you may all get there together. It does mean the worship leader has to trust God and trust their own discernment whilst moving into uncharted territory!
In the end, if your desire is towards God and you have a desire to lead His people into his presence, that’s a very good place to start and God bless you for that.
© Paul Wood