How do you lead worship? The Holy Spirit, as counselor and as guide, directs the worship through the worship leader. The leader acts as a conduit through which the Holy Spirit can flow. The great part about it is that God uses ordinary people just like you and me. He directs the worship through the worship leader, and in turn the worship leader leads the people into the presence of God.
When Moses led the children of Israel, where did they go? Were they a people wandering aimlessly in the wilderness? No, God was directing them. God guided with a cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night. Moses was called by God to lead the children of Israel, following the cloud or the pillar of fire, even when it appeared to go in an unexpected direction. In like manner, the worship leader is called to lead the people in the direction God is taking them.
All of this requires some planning, but the planning must be in accord with the leading of the Holy Spirit. Planning does not mean sitting down and deciding what song would be good to begin with, which song should be used to get people standing, what song would be good to liven up the mood, etc. Consideration should be given to some of the physical aspects, but this should not be the primary focus.
Planning means praying, and not just five minutes before you start. Once you have committed yourself to the job of leading worship, you have consecrated yourself to God. This may mean that some things in your life need to be changed.
In the Scriptures, we read about the call of the Levite. The tribe of Levi was a tribe separated unto God. Their inheritance was the Lord, not the land. Their job was to serve God in the temple and to serve his people. This is similar to a worship leader’s calling today—a calling to be in communion with God and to serve the people. All of us need a more consecrated life, but as worship leaders, we need to be even more aware of our consecration. You must be led by the Holy Spirit.
Leadership means servanthood. We are not the spiritual head of the church or even of a small group—that is the pastor or other leader’s role. Is this scene familiar to you?
“You know, Eddie, the pastor of my church just does not understand worship. I don’t know what it is with him, but he wants me to do three songs, and that’s it. He doesn’t understand what’s going on. I don’t know what to do. I’m frustrated. Last Sunday, I went ahead and kept going. I did a half-hour of worship. He’s talked to me three times and told me he doesn’t want me to go that long, but I just went for it and did what God told me to do.”
That is not right. You need to do what your pastor tells you with regard to worship. Submit to his authority, and show some respect. Pray for him. Yes, you may be right. Maybe he doesn’t understand what is going on. You might be 100 percent correct. But right now your attitude is sowing seeds of rebellion, and you’re getting into something that is not healthy for you, your pastor, or the church.
Pray for him, talk to him, and be his friend. Share some of the things you have learned. He may feel threatened, but if you show respect, he may come to trust your judgment.
You must lead by keeping the spiritual needs of the people in mind. Sometimes I get comments from people that we need more songs of one type or another or that we haven’t done a certain song in a long time. I listen to those requests, but I base my final decision on whether or not the particular request will enhance worship in this time and place.