In researching this topic I was surprised to discover that pride and sin are so intrinsically linked, they are really the same thing. The inclusion of the word “remain” in the title above assumes we were humble to begin with, but since we are all sinners and pride is the very quintessence of sin, then we are all guilty. Pride is any thought or action that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and to be truly humble is to maintain an attitude and state of mind that is constantly pleasing to God. Constantly?! Overwhelming, I know, but what may seem impossible to us is possible with God. Here are some helpful considerations as you seek to please God and to walk in humility as a worship leader:
How To Remain Humble As A Worship Leader
Fear God, for He is Holy
“God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34). This is one of those memory verses we take for granted, but the reality of it is far more serious than many of us acknowledge. When seeking to lead people into the presence of God, it is important to have a humble heart and a holy respect. Most certainly enjoy the Lord (Psalm 135:3; 2 Sam. 6:12-15; Psalm. 122:1), but don’t let a casual approach to worship result in giving God anything less than the honor and glory He deserves. It’s true that we don’t live in Old Testament times where we are struck dead if we don’t offer the right kind of sacrifice in the right way; but the potential for God to resist us because of pride should be sobering. God is holy and it is only because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice that we can even approach the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). Offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe (Heb 12:28), which should lead to humility, abundant grace and great joy.
Seek God’s glory, not your own
Whether we think too highly of ourselves or consider that we are the lowest of the low, the fact is we tend to obsess over ourselves. No matter how we dress it up, it’s still just pride. Worship on the other hand is not about us, it’s all about God. God is a jealous God and He will not share His glory with another (Isaiah 42:8). It is a worship leader’s charge to direct attention away from “us” and to God. Just as teachers will be judged more strictly for what they say (James 3:1), worship leaders have the huge responsibility to lead, influence and instruct the flock in how to worship God. Worship, when done with the right motive, becomes a remedy for the problem of pride.
“He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). John the Baptist was given the important mission of heralding the coming Messiah. His position was significant and he remained faithful to the end. Jesus said of John, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matthew 11:11), yet John didn’t consider himself worthy to loosen Jesus’ sandals. He understood that his gifts and ministry were given to him by God, and that his sole job was to promote Jesus. As worship leaders it is essential to follow John’s example of humility, and be about the business of promoting God’s glory.
Every good gift comes from God
We know God is no respecter of persons and that he once opened the mouth of a donkey to do his bidding. Suffice to say, he can use anyone. We all have different gifts to varying degrees (Romans 12:6), and we should use them to serve others not ourselves (1 Peter 4:10). As a worship leader you are gifted to sing, play an instrument, and/or write songs; but with your talent be aware of the One who gifted you: “For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7). A proper understanding of who you are in light of who He is, naturally leads to gratefulness resulting in humility.
Don’t be paralyzed by false humility
Now that you are reminded of how much you fall short, the good news is God wants to use you. In ourselves we are utterly depraved, but the Master chooses to use broken vessels and cracked pots to bring about His purposes. “True humility is not thinking less of your self; it is thinking of yourself less.”― C.S. Lewis
We must not be paralyzed by fear of failure or try to show how humble we are by remaining silent and walking around sheepishly. In the parable of the talents it was the servant who played it safe and buried his talent who was rebuked and denounced as wicked (Matthew 25:14-30). No one could ever serve publicly if perfect humility were a prerequisite. Most of us are even more prideful than we realize and yet God wants to use us in spite of ourselves. It doesn’t serve anyone if you are called to lead worship and you feign humility by not being much of a leader (Aw, shucks folks, I’m so humble). No, be bold! A good friend of mine told me that when he leads worship, his job is to be very visible in the beginning and slowly become invisible. What he means is leaders should start by boldly pointing the way and direct the people’s gaze towards God; enjoy the Lord in front of the congregation so as to provoke and encourage them to enjoy the Lord themselves; then as worship continues, become less visible and demonstrative so that people see only Jesus.
Just as pride is unacceptable, there’s also no room for false humility. Self-deprecation does not equal humility. For example, when someone offers encouragement, learn to receive the compliment. If they say to you, “Worship was really great today and I especially enjoyed your singing!” Don’t reject the compliment or respond, “It wasn’t me, it was the Lord!” No, it was you, the Lord would have done a lot better job of it. Don’t disrespect the person offering encouragement, just thank them, or steer the conversation by asking them how God was speaking to them during worship. Corrie Ten Boom, who helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust during World War II, famously said that when people praise her, she receives each compliment as if it were a flower, and at the end of the day presents the bouquet to the Father saying, “The lovely things people have said about me, they were really saying about You. Thank You, Father, for using me.”
Seek accountability and input
Don’t Trust your own self-assessment. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9
Rather than surrounding yourselves with sycophants, seek out people who are bold enough to tell you the truth in love. Let family, friends, and other church members give a realistic assessment of how well you’re serving the church. At the same time don’t labor over the minutiae of the motive behind every thought or action. Ask for accountability, listen to others, repent and move on. For some, it is easy to fall into the trap of asking others about the most mundane details until it becomes a form of bondage. As with everything else there’s balance.
What can we learn form all this?
Humility is required of a worship leader just as it is of all followers of Christ and for the same reasons. We do not want to experience God’s opposition, we need His abundant grace, and it should be our objective that God is exalted. As someone who leads worship it’s your job to promote Jesus and maintain a humble heart. As difficult as that can sometimes be, He has provided instruction, grace, and the power to change in order for you to be an effective, humble worship leader.