When I was a little girl dreaming about singing on stage as part of a worship team, I had very little understanding of what that role required. Now that I have the privilege of not only singing with a praise team, but being a praise leader, I know that it’s about much more than singing a few songs or saying a few prayers. There is a spiritual weight to it.
Praise Leading into a Wall
A few months ago, I kept running into this wall. I would pour time and energy into preparing excellent, thought-through, creative, truth-filled sets of music, but I felt like it wasn’t enough. Something wasn’t right. I knew part of this was perfectionism that I needed to let go of, but I also felt a discontent I couldn’t merely shake off. I was missing something.
Around that time, God kept telling me repeatedly that He was proud of me as a worship leader and that I was “enough.” After three people prayed the same thing over me within a single week, I accepted that God was really trying to get this message across. Okay, God was proud of me. Fine. But I couldn’t really feel it. I couldn’t entirely grasp what that meant and how it should affect me. It was a truth that was coming through my ears, but bouncing off of my heart. So I asked God to help me understand.
I went to an evening worship service that night hoping to encounter God. What I didn’t foresee was all the stuff in my heart that was about to get exposed.
Make His praise glorious
As we sang out, “Make His praise glorious,” I broke down weeping, because I realized that was my desire. That’s what it was. And that was why I felt so frustrated. “I want to make Your praise glorious!” I cried out. “But I can’t! My talent, my skills, my heart, it’s not enough!” Finally, I was able to admit how I really felt. “I’m not enough!” I yelled. “How could I possibly be enough?!”
After I had cried all my emotions out, God finally spoke. He said, What you have to bring is your heart. It’s your integrity. It’s the choices you make day-to-day to obey Me. It’s the sacrifices you make and the battles you fight that no one else knows about. That’s what you bring. That’s where your anointing as a praise leader comes from. It’s not about musical skill. You have enough of that already; stop worrying about that. Instead, flow from your integrity.
That calmed me down. That made some sense to me.
And then, God said, And, here’s the other thing you need to keep in mind: I CHOSE YOU and APPOINTED YOU for this. You need to SUBMIT to MY CHOICE and MY ANOINTING. SUBMIT!
I don’t want to say that God was yelling at me, but His tone was very strong. I began trembling under the power of His words. God is God; I am not. Who am I to question God’s decisions? The only proper place for me is to be in submission to Him, even if what He is saying is that He wants to elevate me beyond where I am comfortable. I am not qualified to question God. So I decided to submit.
I have to say, that moment changed everything. As a worshipper, as a praise leader, and as a servant of God. It changed my perspective. As did a more recent encounter with God.
A few weeks ago, I was feeling weary and less-than-excited about having to be part of the praise team that day. (To be honest, there is often a heaviness I have to push through. The spiritual battle is real.) But as I was lifting my hands in worship before service, God reminded me of a story my grandmother shared with me for the first time this past year.
Apparently, when I was about three or four years old, my grandmother took me to a worship service at some random Pentecostal church. I have no memory of this event, and had always thought my personal experience of charismatic worship was non-existent until after college. But my grandmother said that I went crazy dancing and singing in that church. She laughed as she said it: “You went crazy!” When I heard that, it touched something deep inside me.
So I was always an extravagant worshiper, from the beginning, I thought.
As God reminded me of that story, I got this picture in my head of a little girl spinning around and around in joyful worship, hands raised, eyes closed, a huge grin on her face, not noticing or caring what was going on around her, her little body energized in every movement she made. And I realized that is how God sees me. That is how God will always see me. No matter what my title or position in the church. No matter how others may see me or look up to me. To God, I will always be His little worshiper dancing her heart out, full of joy, exuberantly delighting herself in Him. And that is the place from which I am supposed to lead. Not from a place of pressure or performance, but from a place of childlike love and delight.