“God will never allow you to keep a spiritual blessing completely for yourself. It must be given back to Him so that He can make it a blessing to others.” – Oswald Chambers, My Utmost For His Highest
Leading worship is all about taking the spiritual blessing that God has given you and loving Him with it so that OTHERS will be blessed.
When you sing or play, try to remind your heart and soul that what you’re doing in front of folks, might technically be a performance, but it is a performance with 2 primary purposes: 1) to bless the heart of God and 2) to bless the hearts of others.
What do we mean by “bless the heart of God” and “bless the hearts of others?”
1) Blessing the heart of God
Psalm 103:1-2 (ESV) says, “Bless the Lord , O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord , O my soul, and forget not all his benefits…”
John Piper says “blessing” the Lord “means to recognize his great richness, strength, and gracious bounty and to express our gratitude and delight in seeing and experiencing it.”
When we sing and play our “worship” music we are bringing “blessing” to God. We are expressing our great thankfulness and gratitude for who He is, what he’s done, and how we works in our and through our lives.
Psalm 100:4 (ESV) says, Enter his gates with thanksgiving,and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!
The word bless in this scripture means to kneel. Given the context of the scripture it’s clear that we can associate blessing the Lord with a humble (kneeling) thankfulness. Of course, there’s the LITERAL idea of kneeling before the Lord in worship as an outward expression of recognizing His greatness, but in a figurative sense, were also to see that even without ever bending our physical knees we can “bless the Lord” with a humble heart and attitude of great thankfulness and gratitude to the Lord.
2) Blessing Others
It’s our great privilege, as worship leaders, to be used by God to usher His people into spaces where they can quiet their minds and center their lives. Ultimately, we hope that our congregations learn that worship is so much more than just those few songs we sing together on Sundays, but it’s those times on Sundays where we tend to operate in the most (as far as our most comfortable skill sets).
When we print out the music for the team, or when we listen to new music to find a new upbeat opener, or when we’re giving lessons to beginning piano players, or when we’re running through rehearsals…
…Are we looking at all those things through the lens of serving others? Do we realize that what we have to offer is a blessing to them?
When we offer our “worship leading” gifts back to God, we’re guaranteeing that we’ll be a blessing to others because that is the supernatural order of things. Why? Because it’s actually GOD blessing others through us.
Leading worship is never about what we can receive. We love God and we love others. That does not mean it’s wrong or to ask God to fill us or to empower us. We DO receive from God as we worship.
The real question, however, is: Would we still worship God if we knew we would never “receive” anything from Him again?
Hoarding the “blessing” for ourselves:
There’s no doubt about it. Worshiping God brings fullness. It brings joy. It brings freedom. We can’t help to become more like the Father when we spend time with him.
There is a danger though. When we “feel good” we’re tempted to hoard the blessings for our own benefit. There is such a thing as a worship junkie. One who floats from high to high looking for the “blessings” of God to make themselves feel better. For them, it’s all about the “fix.” It’s all about the “feeling” of worship.
These people might appear to be great worship leaders. They might seem to be in tune with the Spirit…but sadly, they are just addicts, and addiction is a sickness.
Hoarding the blessings for ourselves leads to death. Chambers also says, If you hoard [the blessing]for yourself, it will turn into spiritual dry rot, as the manna did when it was hoarded. In Exodus 16, God blessed the Children of Israel with quail and manna (bread) and told them to take only what they needed for the day. Some took more than that and overnight it turned into rotting, maggoty waste.
When asked what the greatest commandment was Jesus responded by saying:
‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37-39 ESV)
Love God. Love others.
We can also say Bless God. Bless others.
No where in that do we see bless ourselves first. As if we could even do that! Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (Ephesians 1:17 ESV). The blessings always come from and return to God. We approach generous giving the same way. God blesses us financially and it “blesses His heart” when we give back to Him, via tithing, via offerings, via random acts of kindness, etc.
Praise God from who all blessings flow! He gives them to us. As we return “blessing” (thankfulness, our gifts) back to him HE blesses others!
Russ Hutto is the Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church where he mentors, oversees and helps lead Family and Student worship environments. He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community.