I am sharing ten practical ways to engage your congregation in worship. I have learned these methods through my many wins and losses as a worship leader.
My prayer is that these ten tips will inspire you to grow in your gifts, so that the church will rise up to its boundless, artistic, and powerfully anointed potential!
3. Be Humble
Here’s a scary verse for you — James 4:6 — God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Wow, just to think of all those times when I was trying to make people think some untrue, lofty thought about me while leading worship. I can almost weep on the spot thinking about how I made such a fool of myself and worse yet, how I brought such dishonor to God. All of that and to top it off, I am reminded here that the God of the universe was opposing me.
Ever led worship and been wondering what someone was thinking about you? Well, this issue is enemy number one. Sometimes we’re thinking about how great we are and other times we’re thinking about how horrible we are. Both are wrong and both block the blessing of God flowing through us as we lead!
People often ask me how I deal with the hunger for self-glory? I tell them first of all it is a struggle we will all have until we see Jesus, but it is a fight we must fight! The truth is, for me it is incredibly simple — I must fix my eyes on the One who is greater than me.
There have been many times after concerts when people will tell me I did a great job and when they tell me how God sincerely met them through my ministry. It really does mean a lot, but flattery of any kind is kind of like water on a ducks back, it falls off. We crave glory and go to great lengths to get it, but because we were not created to be worshiped, it soon fades away and we’re left searching for more. What we were created for is to give glory and honor to our God — and when we do that, we have healthy and lasting joy. All of this to say, when I’m struggling with my pride, I worship! Suddenly I become impressed with Him and unimpressed (in a healthy way) with me. I’m reminded that He is God and I am not, and aren’t we all glad about that!
I know it’s obvious, but pride and worship don’t mix. If there is one ingredient besides love and respect that a worshiper must have it is humility! The very act of worship is all about giving worth to another. It’s saying that the object of your affection is so much greater than you. But hold on, before we get down on ourselves, let me say what I believe true humility is. It’s not being someone who hates themselves or always refuses a compliment. True humility is knowing truth about yourself and allowing other people to see and know the real you.
Have you ever met someone who just seemed to be okay with themselves? They’re the ones who are comfortable and happy in their own skin. Those are the people that have the capacity to be truly humble. So the real question is — how do we become a humble person? We know that the struggle for self-glory will always be with us — it’s sin number one. (Satan told Adam and Eve they could be like God.) The good news is that becoming humble is found in being enraptured and consumed with the One who is truly great! When we fix our eyes on God two things happen: we become aware of everything He is and everything we’re not, and we are reminded that God loves and treasures us more than purest gold. While humility is the most important posture of our worship, true worship is our greatest tool in finding it!
While on stage it is inevitable that we will make mistakes. How we recover from them can speak volumes about our humility or lack thereof. In fact, you can take advantage of a mistake and use it to your advantage. It’s the perfect opportunity to show everyone that you don’t take your self too seriously and that you’re not in front of them to impress them.
I can remember one time at my church when I started a song in the wrong key. The song had a huge range and it was already so high I could hardly sing the verse. I remember looking around at the worship team and my pastor and they were all kind of raising their eyebrows. I kept pretending that everything was okay but then the chorus came. I thought, “I have to go for it.” I reared back and sang as high as I could — I wasn’t even close. Everyone stopped singing and suddenly what had been a beautiful worship time turned into an all out laugh-at-Tommy-fest. The band stopped playing and so I just joined in and laughed at myself.
Here’s the point of this story. I went ahead and laughed at myself and then I moved on. That’s the key. When these things happen, let everyone know how undeniably aware you are of your shortcomings, but then move on. If you keep dwelling on your mistake then you start to make everything about you. If you recover from your mistakes with true humility, you can use those embarrassing situations to build great trust with your audience or congregation.
Next week, I’ll discuss how being confident helps engage your congregation in worship.