Do all worship leaders suffer from a fear of failure? Is it ingrained in musicians and singers to drift towards self-focus? Do you become prouder or more humble over time? More so, do your skills as a singer or instrumentalist remove the fear to sing or play in front of people? Can you get to a place, leading worship, where your focus is so directed to God, that you don’t even notice anyone around you. Is that the place where all worship leaders ultimately need to be?
5 Ways Worship Leaders Keep God Center Stage During Worship
1. Repetitiveness eases the fear of failure
To become a master at your craft, you have to apply yourself to it fully! That is the same in worship. If you are a worship leader, that is your calling, your profession, your heartbeat. You were created, crafted, and gifted to proclaim God’s glory. You were anointed to sing unto the King of Kings. That’s not only a great honor, but a scary one at that! You want to be perfect in your approach and technique, but that is impossible. So you practice and practice hoping that, over time, you’ll become better. And you will. And this is needed! Would you give a speech unprepared? Would you write an exam without studying? Why would you lead worship when you are not fully prepared? Get your team together and practice often. In fact, don’t lead when you are not fully in sync and everyone is not 100% comfortable with the music. It’s not a show, and you are not trying to deliver a great performance. You are worshipping unto the Highest authority in the universe. Why would you not want to give your very best?
Have a fear of failing in worship? Join the club. Here’s 5 ways you can overcome it!
2. Pay less attention to setting, attire, style, and decor
You cannot create worship. You cannot force the Spirit of the Lord to move, nor can you manipulate a heart into conversion or repentance. As worship leaders, we can so often focus on the decor, the lights, the placement, even our outfits, that we forget that none of that has any impact on how successful, renewing, or transforming God’s outreach will be. You can sing a cappella and hearts will change. You don’t have to include a certain guitar riff, reverb effect or have a purple/blue light and smoke to create a vintage setting. Just sing! Just sing and play unto him, with everything in your soul. You will feel less performance-driven and more authentic. The congregation will take less notice of you, and more of God.
3. Don’t live for the applause
I’ve been to numerous worship services, conferences and concerts where the leaders are so entertainment-driven that you can see their anguish in trying to hype the crowd. It’s painfully embarrassing for them and the congregation, and it screams “fake”. However, I’ve also witnessed many worship events where the leader made no reference to themselves. They nullified themselves so God could receive all the attention, focus, and glory. I remember watching Nicole C Mullins at the Worship Leader Conference in Kansas a few years back and how she approached it. It was incredible. I remember, at the end of her session, she prayed and walked off the stage while everyone’s eyes were closed. When we opened our eyes, ready to applaud her, she was gone. No applause necessary! That is a humble spirit and a great understanding of worship! There is no pride that may get hurt, nor is there fear of failure. If it fails, to God be the glory still!
4. Know your comfort zone and stick to it
This sounds contrary to popular approach, but makes so much sense. Personally, I’m not an “upbeat, hand-clapping, jumping praise” leader. I just can’t do that type of music, though I love it! At worship conferences, you can find me jumping up and down as I shout unto the Lord. When I lead, however, I do it sitting down behind a piano/keyboard and love a more acoustic driven approach. It’s there where I meet with Jesus, and it’s there where, when I lead, people meet with Him. If you had me do an uptempo song, I’d be so out of my zone that my focus will be on a fear of failing. “Will I get this right?” “Am I on key?”
I’m all for exposure to all different styles in growing one’s music repertoire, but perhaps in a church setting, that is not the place. You are not being graded for a musical exam, neither are you recording your next hit. You are worshiping unto the Lord, so worship where and how you feel most comfortable. It may be sitting down with candles all around or jumping up and down while shouting the next great worship anthem. You pick!
5. Stay in The Word
If it all revolves around music and you forget that your encouragement, growth, and protection comes from the Word, you will fail. That fear of failure and performance-driven mindset will haunt you.
You are a pastor. Instead of teaching a sermon, you sing it! To feed the flock you have to be fed, yourself. To sing about grace, you have to experience grace and learn about it. God’s Word and Spirit will lead you in your songwriting and worship application. When you are deeply rooted in Bible study, it will show through your music. You won’t be like a wave tossed in the ocean trying to be hip and happening. You will just be you. Worshipping from your soul to the One you love most! You’ll feel fulfilled, the congregation will grow, and Satan will have lost his weapon of pride, or at least, have a harder time making you fearful.
What has your worship team done to guard against pride, fear of failure and a performance-driven focus? How do you stay humble and still become a master at your craft?