By Bryan Stevenson
A Matter of the Heart
In the middle of the twenty-ninth chapter of Isaiah just before the prophet speaks of the Messiah, the Lord pronounces a judgment (through Isaiah) on the people of Israel – one that Jesus recalls in Mark 7:7.
And so the Lord says,
“These people say they are mine.
They honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
And their worship of me
is nothing but man-made rules learned by rote”
This was clearly a problem for the Israelites.
It was also clearly a problem for the religious leaders of Jesus’ day (see Mark 7). As a worship leader for a church plant, we need to look at this as a warning. One that comes with it a positive encouragement and directive – Our Lord is concerned with the state of our hearts more than all the talent or lack of, more than all the lights or lack thereof, more than the production quality or lack of and more than all of the congregational response. Worship must never be fake. Worship begins with the heart.
You may be asking yourself – “Why didn’t he start with this…” – and the honest answer is – I didn’t start with this focus when I first set out as a worship leader for a church plant. It was a lesson that God had to teach me in my ignorance. (He ALWAYS shows up there!) I promised that I would share things that I have learned. So, there is the first thing!
After investing time in learning instruments, how to perform in a band setting, studying music theory, and understanding the workings of sound reinforcement & production, I needed to learn the most important aspect of leading worship begins with my heart. It wasn’t that I didn’t have a relationship with the Lord or was misunderstanding my role as a leader, but the Spiritual aspect of my role would get lost or overlooked in all of the logistics of leading worship. It took a few good mentors that had insights and weren’t afraid to share them with me to break through my over-confidence.
One of those mentors shared this insight with me:
“Let your private anointing be greater than your public anointing.” In other words – seek more intimacy with the Lord privately than publicly. It was good for me to hear that I needed to spend more time engaged in a private worship life. It helped to raise the Spiritual aspect of the role to be the very top priority. After that was set in motion the other logistics seemed to move more freely – growth came more easily and with less stress. It was only after the focus was placed where it should have been all along that I truly felt like the worship was “in Spirit and Truth”.
“But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
I whole-heartedly believe that this leads us to a very important “both/and” scenario. It is the number one importance to cultivate an intimate prayer life, a private worship life, and overall a life filled with the Holy Spirit. The preparation time, investment in obtaining knowledge, and growing God-given talent as well as understanding and utilizing technology to enhance corporate worship times (when necessary) are all valid pursuits.
So, what is the key?
(Musician pun intended – oh and join me for part 3)
How is your private anointing?
Is your Spiritual life your top priority as a Worship Leader?
Share your thoughts below! And Blessings to you!
About Bryan Stevenson
Bryan is a passionate Christ-follower. Husband of 1. Father of 6. Grandfather of 11. Pastor. Musician. Dreamer. He seeks to encourage worshippers as they set out on the Kingdom building adventure that is Church Planting. Bryan serves as the senior pastor of The Fireplace Christian Fellowship in Myerstown, PA. If you would like to connect with Bryan please feel free to send an email – firstname.lastname@example.org