By Alan Hope
Spirit Led – Not “Us-Led”
Listening to and thinking about the talks we have had recently with Nathan I have realised, and I am sure you have thought along similar lines, that there is always a real danger when leading worship of becoming centred on ourselves and only doing things our way, in our time. We can too easily begin to rely too much on our own experiences and instincts, and listen only to ourselves, trusting in our own leadership and doing things our way, the ways that we are familiar with and that we know, from experience, work.
Surely, none of us can be so pretentious as to believe that we are ‘The Masters of Worship’?
Worship is a place where God wants to move powerfully in our lives in ways which no other force can move us. God wants to do so much through our worship. God desires to lead us in ways which we haven’t even yet experienced. God has a incredible plan to pour out His Spirit into each one of us and to see impossible things become possible in our lives. God wants to bring each one of us into the glory of His presence, but are we ready, are our hearts, our minds and all of our lives open to Him? I know that I for one am not always ready and open to Our Lord. But I still believe that these are things that God wants to do through our worship.
As worship leaders we need to be aware that there are three barriers that can get in the way of us reaching our true place with God and letting Him lead us there:
It’s so easy just to be a follower and ‘do things as they have always been done’. As musicians we follow schedules and rotas and are often in situations where we need to do things a certain way and lead worship as it was done last week. This is fine, don’t get me wrong, but I believe that it can also become a real barrier. When we get stuck in the rut of doing things as they’ve ‘always been done’, we restrict new ideas and before we know it we become captive to ‘NORMALITY’.
I don’t think for one second that God wants our worship to be ‘normal’. God calls us to be ‘set apart’ in all that we do (which is in fact what the word ‘saint’ means). If we want to lead people in new and exciting ways but always restrict ourselves and, more importantly, restrict the Holy Spirit only to what is ‘the norm’, then how will what we do ever bring our brothers and sisters in Christ to a place of excited anticipation in the presence of the glory of God? Let’s make sure that our worship is not normal!
APATHY can be another barrier in allowing the Holy Spirit to lead us in our worship. Sometimes as leaders there is a danger that we just don’t care enough or are not excited about what we are about to do! I am the first to admit that it is sometimes difficult to motivate ourselves and our fellow team members to be passionate in worship. It’s only to be expected that sometimes we are affected by what’s going on in our lives, perhaps we are going through a difficult time with our families or we may be suffering stress in our workplace, or we may be just feeling plain flat. This can cause us to not really give enough thought and prayer time to what we are doing and all we want to do is just ‘get through it and go home’ (believe me, I am speaking from personal experience!).
It’s so important for us to embrace every opportunity to worship and through it to lead others in their worship. God is always on the move and perish the thought that we should miss the boat and cause others to do the same just because we aren’t fully in the moment. This can be difficult to overcome, but I believe we can, with the support of our fellow team members, find the way to fully engage with the Holy Spirit in our worship. It is then that God will honour our efforts and show Himself in a huge and powerful way.
FEAR is also the root of so much that doesn’t happen both in our world and in our Church. We are all afraid – more times that not – to stand up, speak out and act upon what the Holy Spirit is saying to us. Fear blocks us from saying and doing things that are ‘outside the box’. But never forget, FEAR DOES NOT COME FROM GOD!
It’s because of fear that we do what is ‘normal’. Then it’s because of normality that we become apathetic and so the cycle continues. God gave us the gift of His Holy Spirit to show us the way and to lead us. The Holy Spirit is wild and does crazy things, we only need to read the book of Acts to realise that. We need to reclaim the Holy Spirit’s intensity and reflect it through our worship. Let’s not be scared of new things; let’s not be afraid of the challenges we face. Let’s be open and have the courage to follow God boldly in our worship.
Worship is massive!
It’s not timid and small as we sometimes make it. Worship is the act of honouring the God of all creation and God wants to constantly reveal his immensity to us, so that we can share in it. God desires to be close to us. Worship is the place where we can meet Him one to one. God will still connect with people regardless of what we do, but we have an important role as worship leaders to lay a path so that others can experience God. We are given a responsibility to lead our people, but we need our leading to be of the Holy Spirit and Him alone. We are merely the vehicle to connect people with God in powerful ways!
I believe if we allow our worship to be completely led by the Holy Spirit then we will see miracles. If we lead worship with openness then we will see the Holy Spirit manifest in our church. If we allow God to come in more and more, we will see our brothers and sisters in our fellowship connecting with Him in such a way that they will give their lives completely to Him, with no compromise.