In my last blog I began discussing a topic that has been a center point of discussion in the area of worship for centuries. That topic is emotions. Let’s face it… emotions are part of who we are. Emotions are part of what makes us what we are… human. Emotions provide us assistance as we interact with others and our environment. Without emotions our world would be rather bleak.
But… with all of that being said, we need to be aware of how our emotions are interacting with the things around us, and what they are doing within us in different situations. When we allow our emotions to go “unchecked” and have free reign to make us feel and act in any way they please we will begin to encounter problems. A “balancing” of our emotions is crucial to a healthy lifestyle of worship. Below I will discuss several common misconceptions regarding emotions and how they influence us in worship.
- Emotions during worship are misleading.
Many are under the idea that if you feel anything at all during worship then it must be “fleshly” or misleading. But, in reality we are called to use all aspects of our human nature to worship God. We are to worship in “spirit” and “truth” with both our hearts and minds. Therefore, emotions are not of the devil because they were and are given by God Himself. All too often we rush to throw the theoretical “baby” out with the bath water. We have seen emotions used and manipulated inappropriately and because of that we tend to push emotions as far away from our worship of God as possible for fear of “messing” up again or going “overboard.” But, when emotions are authentic and directed toward God alone then I believe that they ultimately honor God. Use what God has given you to pour back out towards Him!
- If I don’t “feel something” in worship then something is wrong or it wasn’t good or beneficial.
I don’t know how many times I have heard statements that express this exact feeling. It can be somewhat frustrating as a worship leader at times to have to be judged by the external feelings of others. This idea of “spectator” worship is driven by an entertainment saturated church. I hate to break it to you… but worship isn’t about how YOU feel. Worship is our service to God, not His service to us, and any benefit we receive from worship is a by-product and not the end goal. True and authentic worship won’t always provide you with a “good” emotional feeling. Sometimes worship calls us to reverence, sorrow over our own sinfulness, love and overwhelming thankfulness at the foot of the cross, anticipation of what is to come, etc… Worship calls us to evaluate ourselves and our own character in light of our Savior and many times that won’t leave us feeling “satisfied” or “happy.” But, our worship should evoke some response from us individually… we see throughout Scripture that when mortals encounter the presence of God something special happens and they don’t leave unchanged. Seek to encounter and dwell in the presence of God continually!
- I leave my emotions or response at the door.
Emotions are expressions of our hearts, but without action or change they equate to nothing at the end of the day or service. Our emotions should motivate us to action in worshiping and praising God. Simply weeping during a Samaritan’s Purse commercial at the way children are living in third world countries does nothing, and ultimately everything remains the same when that emotion passes. But… weeping at that reality and then donating money or adopting a child makes a difference! The emotion is merely the beginning… the start of a response or change. Let your emotions push you into action that glorifies Christ. If worship breaks your heart because of your sinfulness in comparison to God’s holiness then make a change! Strive to be holy! Don’t leave your emotions at the door or the altar as you leave church, rather let them transform you into a better disciple for His name’s sake!
- All emotional responses look the same.
It is true that every person experiences emotions at some point in their life, but it is not true that we all reflect those varying emotions in the same way. Not every person experiences or displays emotions in the same way as you may. Something that may draw you to tears may not affect another in the same fashion. We can attribute some of these differences to things like upbringing, environment, and context, but the reality remains the same… our emotions may be shared but our reactions or responses may differ. In the end, the response isn’t what should be judged because it is outward, it is what is inside that truly matters.
Our role as worship leaders is to actively engage and lead into worship and allow the people to respond in whatever way the feel is necessary. It is not our role to judge others for appearances that may or may not be indicative of their hearts. We must not allow our perceptions of how things should be displayed to reflect onto others and hold them to unrealistic standards based on their personalities and mannerisms.
So… in conclusion, it is necessary that we understand that God created us, and all we are, to fulfill the purposes of worshipping Him. We must not be fearful of our emotions, but rather work to point them towards Christ and the honoring and praising of Him. It is not about us, or our responses. It is all about Him.