Worship Leadership: The Art of Getting Out of the Way

Your Role as a worship leader is to simply get out of God's way.
Your role as a worship leader is to simply get out of God's way. (Flickr )

The first time I led the worship music program of a church service, I was 19 years old. To say I was nervous would be to greatly understate the situation.

I remember praying right before walking up to the microphone, "Lord, just help me get out of the way so that they can see You." At the time, I'm sure my response had as much to do with insecurity as anything else. I was afraid I would wilt under the intense focus of so many of my family and friends.

I didn't want to think for a second about all of those people watching me. That fear led me to pray that the focus would be on God, who I was pretty sure could handle it.

Over the years, I've learned the significance of that simple prayer. In many ways, the frightened teenaged version of me approached the role of worship leader with a sense of humility and reverence that can be all too easily lost. Just like the ancient Romans Paul admonished, our society today has a propensity to create idols out of people and worship the created things rather than the Creator. It would be easy to blame our modern worship style, where platforms have become stages, and worship leaders and praise teams too often look like rock stars at a concert.

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However, as one who grew up in the churches of the 1970s and 1980s, I can tell you that the pastors and church soloists of that era were no less glorified. As a soloist in my little local church, I wanted to be Steve Green and Larnelle Harris just as much as today's young worship leaders might want to be Chris Tomlin or Kari Jobe. The desire to put ourselves in the spotlight is a battle with our inherited nature that can only be conquered by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

I want to encourage you as you lead. Whether your role is worship leader, praise team member, choir member or soloist, remember that your No. 1 job is to point people to Christ.

They need to see Him, not you. They need to hear Him, not you. They can only be changed by Him, not you. Our role, even from the center of the stage with the spotlight blaring down on us, is to simply get out of the way.

Brian Brown is LifeWay Worship's manager of sales, marketing, events and business development. He has worked for LifeWay for 25 years.

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