Worship leaders need to realize the holiness of the activity they are involved in. They stand before people, and sing to the Creator of the universe. They stand before God, and sing to Him and about Him. They use their God given gifts and talents to worship God in such a way that inspires others to join in. Leading worship must be viewed as a holy endeavor. God is holy, and our worship of God must be holy as well.
Consider the worship of God that was offered by the seraphim in Isaiah 6:1-4. We read, “ 1In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!”
These mighty angelic beings cover their eyes and their feet. It has been said that they covered their eyes, because they were not worthy to look upon God, and that they covered their feet as a sign of humility. Their worship of God was a result of their clear view of His holiness, and their actual giving of worship reflected their understanding of God’s holiness. There was humility and adoration because they had a clear understanding of the holiness of God.
As a worship leader, do you think about the holiness of God? Are you in awe of God’s holiness? He is completely above and apart from anything common, mundane, unclean, or immoral. Holiness means to be separate, different. God is infinitely higher than the most holy man on Earth.
Is your view of God is that He is “a lot better than you”, or that he is infinitely better than you? Do you experience any reverential fear of God as you ascend to the front of the church to offer Him praise? Is there any sense of your own unholiness? Is there a deeper desire to grow in holiness, that you might more rightly represent God, and be sensitive to His Spirit?
Do you bring ungodly attitudes and behaviors to your worship leading experience? Do you live in sin? Don’t you know that those sinful actions/attitudes make you less effective in being sensitive to God’s Spirit? They also make you harder to work with. Sinful attitudes make musicians and singers overly sensitive, lazy, indifferent, selfish, and a host of other unspoken feelings that are communicated to the church congregation through what does or doesn’t happen. Carnal worship leaders make life more difficult for other worship leaders, and they taint the worship experience for the congregation.
A man who practices habitual sin cannot suddenly rise to a practical holiness that is evidenced by a visitation of God’s Spirit. God can and does use such a man, but the experience is never what it could have been had that man walked closer with God.
Conversely, if you are walking by the Spirit, your worship leading will be Spirit led, and people will sense the difference. There will be a sweetness, a holiness, and a presence of God’s Spirit that accompanies you as you worship and lead others in worship.
A godly worship leader is sensitive to the condition of the church congregation at any given gathering. When the church gathers, the Lord knows what the people need to hear, and to experience. The Spirit led worship leader has that “X-factor”, that unspoken but very real sensitivity to know how to lead a group of people in worship. Certain songs may be added or dropped at the last minute. In service changes take place as that leader senses the congregation being touched by the Lord. Choruses and refrains are repeated for emphasis. Times of silence are allowed, as people sit before the Lord. Songs may be suddenly dropped. The entire experience is organic and led by the Spirit of God, and is a moving target that cannot be anticipated or planned for, but can only be responded to when one is in the moment.
A Spirit led, godly worship leader senses all of that. An ungodly worship leader misses all of that. They may still be proficient at playing, singing, and arranging, but the “X-factor” of being led by God’s Spirit is totally missed by the unholy worship leader.
I have sat before godly worship leaders that have had moderate talent. I have also sat before excellent singers and players that have lacked a discernible anointing and presence of God’s Spirit.
I always prefer to be led in worship by a man who fears God, rather than one who is an excellent player/singer, but seems to lack any reverence for God. I want to and need to experience the holiness of God. Don’t need to be entertained at a church service. I want to and need to be impacted by a holy worship service. The style is secondary, but holiness is primary.
A holy worship service may be a bit difficult to describe, but you know when you are experiencing it.
A word of exhortation to all who ascend the platform and stand before God’s people: Worship is to be a holy endeavor. It is best accomplished by people who fear the Lord, and who live in the awareness of God’s holiness on a daily basis.
1 Peter 1:15, 16 15but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”