Two weeks ago I had the privilege of sitting in a Master's level Worship class where singer/song writer/worship leader Paul Baloche lead the 60+ students and worship leaders in impromptu worship and song writing. He started by showing the class how he came to write "Your Name," pulling straight from scripture. He talked...then sang...of the Lord's name being a strong tower and a shelter. He went on to pray in Jesus' name, for Him to fill our hearts, to give us strength, so all we do would glorify His name.
It's one of those moments where the presence of the Lord is so strong you can barely breathe. I sensed it in every fiber of my being. I sat in awe of God, humbled by my humanity, broken over my frailties, seeking to give back something that might be of worth.
(Disclaimer: I already know this post is going to upset some people. Oh well.)
I am truly grateful to God for the ability to sing that He has blessed me with This isn't meant to boast in the least. It's a talent and a gift that has taken me all over the world. I've sung and ministered to ten's of thousands since I've found myself regularly on stage over the past 15 years. I can remember years ago getting so nervous I could barely catch my breath before I would go to sing. I would pray, "Lord, please sing through me. Let it be You in me. Use me but never let me think it has been me." It taught me to be completely reliant on Him. I also admit the more comfortable I got on stage, the easier it became to just get up and sing.
In the last few years, I've come to realize the major difference between being a singer and a worship leader. There's a lot I could say about this. The responsibility. Living above reproach. Testimony. I haven't always lived up to being more than just a voice on stage. I never want that to be the case, but I know that each and every decision I make bring me either closer or further away in my walk with the Lord. This not only determines my choices, attitude and decisions, but it dictates my ability to worship. If I am not an open, willing and clean vessel, I can actually prevent the Spirit from moving in and through me, hindering others in the process. I'm not going to linger anymore here, lest the stone throwing begin.
Singing is one thing, but worshipping is another. As Paul Baloche said, "You must see yourself as a pastor who uses music to help others worship." There have been many a Sunday morning I've stood on stage to sing and haven't felt an ounce of the Spirit in me. I've stood broken down, beaten up, covered in sin, unwilling, undeserving, and unworthy... Despite that, and inspite of myself, God has blessed, moved, and ministered. But as sure as I live and breathe, I am positive I've missed the mark and the opportunity to minister on more occasions than I care to count.
He challenged us to think about the people we minister to. "Petition God for a love to be cultivated for the people you serve." It's that song I posted a few weeks ago:
If I sing but don't have love
I waste my breath with every song
I bring an empty voice
A hollow noise
Being a singer has given me opportunities and privileges that go beyond anything I could have dreamed for myself. But leading others through worship has taught me more about people than any other life lesson. The question Paul asked us that rocked me to my core was, "What happens when someone actually follows you?" On a good day I'd say, "Yes, come along! I'm on fire. Let's lift up the Lord together!" But on a bad day...conviction.
So hear this from my heart:
I mess up. I fail. I'm not perfect. Please don't put me on a pedstool because I promise to fall off. And it most likely won't be with grace. Why I share, why I sing, why I blog, is because God has blessed me beyond what I deserve and though time and time I fail Him and you, I want to give Him honor and glory for His neverending faithfulness and unconditional love. Because of what He's so generously bestowed to me, I bring that as my offering and share it with you. Are there skeletons in my closet? Sure. Tucked away beneath undeserved grace and mercy. I've put all that on the altar, too, and asked Him to use what He will.
I've also come to realize that no matter what may be 'good' about my display on stage, it is more about what happens in my every day life lived when no one sees. This is my true act of worship. And these are the places I want to examine and ask "What if someone follows?"
It's a challenge, for sure, and I'm thankful for the lesson. It's the namesake of this blog: seeking to live my life to bring Him praise, not just in song, but in all I do. I know I've not learned the lesson yet. I think it will be one of those 'life-long-journeys' - and I'm thankful for that too!