Thanks to Michelle Weger for sharing this encouragement with TWC today.
Oh how we love to climb. The thrill of success, momentum, status, progress… But climbing is exhausting and we never quite know how high is high enough… and really, “high enough” is always just a little bit further. At times we climb for extended periods – with no assurance that we are even getting anywhere. As a worship leader some steps of my ladder have been:
- number of people attending weekend church services
- quality and quantity of original songwriting
- the first digit in the model number of a taylor guitar
- how many recordings
- depth and complexity of technology being utilized
- number of friends on Facebook
- building a band of musicians that play to a “click”
- custom molded in-ear monitors… and number of drivers
- having a website with a personal domain
- knowledge of music theory
- size of church staff
- notoriety of senior pastor
- invites to lead at conferences and worship gatherings
- number of Twitter followers
- name being listed in CCLI database
I have rejected that ladder. I don’t believe any rung of that ladder is really important. Yes- excellence and growth are important; though not as important as our definitions of excellence and growth (which is a whole separate conversation). Does God do amazing things in the hearts of people worshipping in environments that are adorned by each rung of that ladder being climbed? Yes. Did I watch God do amazing things in the hearts of a few young adults two weeks ago when I led worship with just me and my guitar? Yep. I have led worship services when my heart was fully focused on and illuminated with the hope and truth of Christ and God showed up. I have led worship services when I was distracted and chasing worldly desires and guess what… God showed up.
God isn’t limited by us. He can use us even when we work to disqualify ourselves… that’s the beauty of Grace. I have stood and begged God to use me despite the sinful choices I was making in my life just before leading a worship service. I have stood and led worship without owning or acknowledging the sin in my life. I have stood and led worship fully aware of my sinful nature and fully embracing God’s grace at work in my life. In each case – God showed up. Because, guess what, God doesn’t require an invitation. He doesn’t need us to extend an invitation for Him to join us. He needs us to accept the invitation to join Him.
He is omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient. We are finite and mortal. He is always at work in our midst, we have the choice to acknowledge and join Him or to ignore Him. I have worked hard to change my language in worship services and to stop praying, “God, that you would join us” or “Father, we invite you here” Simple statements like that promote the idea that God and our faith are compartmentalized portions of our life, as opposed to a thread that runs through every fiber of our existence.
Fact: The moment that worship becomes about me, it is gross, and I don’t want any part of it. I don’t want to create environments where people are captivated by me or my musical abilities, or inabilites, as the case may be (a lack of excellence that creates a distraction, draws the attention to the person rather than the Father just as much as a self-indulgent vocal riff, by the way).
Inadvertently, when we reject one belief system or thought process – we accept another. So, I have rejected the ladder, and I am accepting…
The Monkey Bars
Swinging across monkey bars, is fun… and should be done with friends!
Here are the rungs that compose my monkey bars as a worship leader:
The expression of those rungs are both how I am experiencing them, and how I am inviting others to join me in that. And I am content to just swing back and forth, enjoying the process as a whole rather than checking off rungs and moving on. Each time I traverse a portion of this sideways ladder, I am enjoying a new experience with new depth, perspective, and fullness.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Jesus, Matthew 11:30 ESV)
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (Paul, 2 Corinthians 3:17 ESV)
The Kingdom of Heaven works differently than the systems we have created within this broken world… What systems are you willing to challenge or reject in your own life?
Michelle Weger is a singer, songwriter, worship leader and recording artist who currently works as the Director of Worship and Youth ministries at the Shores campus of Grace Church. Her latest EP King of All Creation is Available on itunes.