Becoming a Better Leader

Pubilius Syrus once said,

Would you have a great empire? Rule over yourself.

Say the word leadership in any circle of “influencers” and gifted leaders and chances are the conversation will immediately turn to the subject of leading others. That’s what leadership is… right? We as church leaders, pastors, servants, and volunteers spend most of our week leading others. As Christians and leaders, we are quick to look at our role of leadership as our influence and impact on those around us! Yet sometimes, in our effort to become better leaders, we often overlook the biggest leadership challenge we will ever face… leading ourselves. We tend to neglect managing ourselves because self-leadership is much more difficult than leading others. It’s much more personal and sometimes messier.

In my opinion the most important ingredient of becoming an exceptional leader is the ability to lead yourself. This is the ability to make the right calls for your own life, not just for those that may consider you a leader. These decisions shape you as a leader and preserve your “ministry” and leadership platform. Andy Stanley said,

We are always one decision, one word, one reaction away from damaging what has taken years to develop.

Self-leadership is crucial, one of the most difficult leadership characteristics to grow, and one of the most difficult character traits to find in a growing leader. We leaders need to spend just as much time, if not more time, caring for our own growth as leaders as we do with “leading the masses.” We need to spend time wrestling with that which needs to be wrestled, time and time again, so that our teams, families, and organizations can be rewarded for our private victories.

The first person you lead is yourself. In truth, any failure to lead yourself well will cripple your chances of leading, helping, or discipling others.

In his book Leading From the Inside Out, Samuel Rima states,

The way in which a leader conducts his personal life does, in fact, have a profound impact on his ability to exercise effective public leadership. There is a direct correlation between self-leadership and public leadership.

So, here are a few quick thoughts I have about self-leadership. Let’s think together!


Define success. 

What does success look like to you?

We often let other people define what success looks like. Too often we live by the desires of our parents, bosses, professors, and peers. In actuality what you were designed for is unique! What I was designed for is also unique and probably entirely different than your purpose. The fact that we each have an individual calling should mean that we also each have an individual definition of what success is and looks like.

For example… success for a stockbroker will look entirely different than success for a missionary. To define both individuals success by money, net worth, accolades would do one or both an injustice.

In the same spirit each individual pastors definition of success may look different. I surely hope that our ideas of success for a rural church and an inner city church have differences! Obviously they will have similarities… but they should also have differences.

Define your success and pursue it. Target your leading in the proper direction… I was once told,

Being busy isn’t the same as being fulfilled.

If we continually live by other peoples definitions of success then we will stay busy… but we may not ever be fulfilled. Be unique…. don’t let those around you decide what a good life should look like!


Set a course.

As a millennial that can’t navigate using a map with much success I believe one of the best technological advances in the last 50 years has got to be portable navigational tools like a GPS or even an app built into your phone! Nothing is simpler and more satisfying than speaking where you want to go into your cell phone and getting step by step instructions spoken back to you as you drive. The days of needing a competent navigator are over!

One of the things that was lost with this advance though has got to be the ability to navigate alternate routes and understand what avenue or obstacles stand between point A and point B. We are a direct route people now because of the invention of the GPS. Scenic routes are outdated and a waste of time… right?

One of the things every self-leader needs is a sense of direction. Where are you headed and what route are you going to take to get there?

Unlike the physical realm we live in, unfortunately we can’t just punch in the destination into our GPS and get the most direct route to it. God is like a map… and we are used to GPS. Sometimes the route may seem unconventional… so we need to ask for our direction and trust our navigator and his tools to get us there.

It is critical to make sure you are headed in a direction that will accomplish your purpose and glorify your Savior, not just pacify your feelings, wants, or lack of drive… hear me out when I say that a bad day or a bad week does not require a knee jerk reaction that could ultimately knock you off course just because you’re not where you want to be right now! Don’t just look at how today has gone, look at the bigger picture. Is your trajectory correct? Are you on course? Then stay the path, keep the faith in spite of a setback… our discipline in this area will lead to growth in other areas!

On August 5, 2001 major league baseball witnessed its greatest comeback in history as the Cleveland Indians rallied from a 12-run deficit to defeat the Seattle Mariners 15-14 in 11 innings.

Just like a baseball game isn’t won or lost in the 1st inning… we too must play the long game in life. 

Be patient. In every action, moment, and self-conversation. Remember why you’re here. Don’t give up what you want most for what you want now. Embrace the call to give everything to see the Kingdom advance; for that is its own reward.


Engage the old. Put on the new.

An important part of the self-leadership process is highlighted in Ephesians 4:20-24 where it says,

But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

That verse says to put “off” our old self. Do you sometimes feel like your “old self” just won’t let go? Like it lays in wait to catch you at your weakest… whether it’s an attack in the mind or an attack in the flesh, they are all the same. But… as leaders we must fight it!

You can’t transform what you don’t engage.

As leaders, we must decide who we want to be and then align our lives so we become just that. This is not easy because the person you do not want to be is the person you will most naturally become if left to your own devices. In Matthew 16:25 Jesus said,

If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.

Self-leaders must die to the natural tendencies inside them to become who God is calling them to be. God is calling us to become inside-out leaders… leaders who are defined more by who we are on the inside than by who we seem to be on the outside.

Our culture has developed us into people who are quick to adopt new habits, vocabulary, styles, and behaviors. We learn these things and add them to our repertoire, put them up on a shelf to pull down when and if we ever need them. We add them to the life we have built and carry on. But as leaders and as Christians who are pursuing holiness we must take off the old before we put on the new. We need to deal with the junk that comes to cling to our heart along the way. We need to remove the old ways of thinking; bad habits, attitudes, and prejudices that will hold us back. We can sweep the old behavior under a new rug, but if we don’t address and engage it, rest assured, it will come back to bite.

You wouldn’t deal with a mold colony by merely covering it up with a rug or some wallpaper, because although it might seem good for a while the problem is still just under the surface waiting for its opportunity to return. In the same sense we can’t just “cover up” the old and smelly we must fight the old before becoming the new.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says,

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.


Spend time outside your comfort zone.

A comfort zone is defined as:

A psychological state in which a person feels familiar, at ease, in control, and experiences low anxiety. A person in this state uses a limited set of behaviors to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk.

Your comfort zone is a psychological place where you feel safe and in control. You experience low-anxiety and you’re using a limited set of behaviors. This means you’re not growing or developing any new skills. Essentially you’re stuck on autopilot, you’re just going through the motions. Clearly this is not the place from which to lead.

Will Rogers said,

You’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes because that’s where the fruit is.

It’s in our comfort zone that we feel safe and secure. It’s the zone of routine, the place where we do those things we find safe, comfortable, easy and familiar. The comfort zone is a place where nothing particularly challenging happens.

Denis Waitley says,

Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.

Successful leaders know that they must get out of their comfort zone to succeed. Leadership begins at the end of your comfort zone, and starts in the learning zone. Great leaders from history are those who have spent a large amount of their time outside their comfort zone such as Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Nelson Mandela, Henry Ford, Elon Musk, and many, many more. These are leaders who have dared to step out their comfort zone. History has shown that life rewards the risk-takers.

Leaders who take risks and step outside their comfort zone and into their “learning zone” are those that succeed. It’s only when you can give up what’s safe and familiar that you create opportunities and develop new capabilities. As you do, you expand your influence and gain the skills required to take on bigger and bigger challenges.

Leaders are self-made and not born, they are developed, not promoted. Leadership is a learned skill that is developed as you step out of your comfort zone. You only grow when you are at the edge of yourself.

I talk about this a lot. Getting out of your comfort zone is remarkably good for you at every level. When was the last time you got uncomfortable in order to grow? Can you even remember? Leaving the comfort zone broadens your horizons, sharpens your senses, and most importantly it causes you to pay attention. Are you paying attention to the path God has put before you? How about the one that leaves your area of comfort

Don’t limit yourself! Don’t limit what God can do through you by being fearful of the unknown and the uncomfortable! Our purposes may demand that we grow to see them through. Our purposes demand the courage to take risks, to step out on faith! You will never discover your full potential unless you step outside your comfort zone. To grow you must put yourself in a place where more is demanded of you.

Joshua 1:9 says,

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Proverbs 3:5-6 says,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

I believe that the biggest danger of living in a comfort zone is that after a while you begin to think that average is acceptable, because comfort zones encourage mediocrity.

It’s like going to gym for the first time. The exercises are difficult and you struggle. They take a lot of energy motivation to complete. However, each week you grow stronger, the exercises become easier and they require less energy to complete. However, as the exercises become easier, you get less physical benefit. Soon you find yourself becoming used to your exercise routine, your heart rate no longer rises and you’re not sore in the mornings. When this happens you’re no longer growing stronger. You’re in a comfort zone. The solution? You need to change your exercise routine. You need to switch to a new set of exercises. The same principle holds for other areas in our lives.

Brian Tracy said,

Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.

Unless you spend time out of your comfort zone and in your learning zone you’ll fail to grow. You can go to gym every day, doing the same exercises for months and months without and benefit. If what you’re doing is comfortable and easy, you’re not in the learning zone. And if you’re not in your learning zone you’re not growing.


Ask for help.

John Wooden once said,

We’re all imperfect and we all have needs. The weak usually do not ask for help, so they stay weak. If we recognize that we are imperfect, we will ask for help and we will pray for the guidance necessary to bring positive results to whatever we are doing.

Asking for help is something that has taken me a long time to do… and I still do not like to do it! I hate the idea of being dependent on someone else or troubling someone else when I was raised to be confident, strong, and independent.

For a long time I thought that asking for help meant I was dependent, weak, uncertain of what do to. To me it meant I was not smart enough, strong enough, determined enough, good enough, or worthy enough. I say all of that because I know that I am not alone. Many leaders never ask for help! Instead of asking for support, we try to do everything ourselves. We do whatever it takes to get the job done on our own, and in the end, we feel a sense of accomplishment for achieving the feat that was deemed impossible.

But… the truth is, we never do anything on our own.

God is there to answer the call and as leaders we have many around us who are also willing and ready to answer the call and help carry the torch.

We must be willing to grow, and involve others in that growth. As leaders we aren’t alone…we have a team. Your strongpoint may not be mine and that is okay as long as we lean on each other in those areas! A basketball game isn’t won or lost because of one player. Involve others. Ask for and listen to outside counsel. Seek out wisdom on areas you need to grow in, and never be afraid to ask for help.


So… what other self-leadership strategies must we put into place?

Advertisements

The Power of the Original

Today we have more worship music available to us than any other time in history. It is both exciting and overwhelming! We can literally find an unlimited amount of worship music online from popular Christian artists and other churches from around the world. Churches of all sizes are writing, recording and putting out great worship songs. You would think that the plethora of resources would make the task of putting together a Sunday service easier… but in reality it has made the task much more daunting.

What songs contribute to your church’s worship culture or spiritual foundations? Who determines what we are singing? Who writes what is speaking into the hearts and minds of our congregations on a weekly basis? Suddenly the seriousness of the situation becomes clear…

In a time when we have so much music to choose from, why should we as worship leaders write original music? I mean surely there’s a song already out there that tackles the topic my pastor is preaching next week? Surely there is already a great upbeat worship song to open our worship service with in 2 weeks, right? The answer to those questions is most likely “yes.” But in this post I am going to discuss why I feel it is important for us as worship leaders to continue to write for the local church and why we should also develop writers within our congregations and ministries.

“Sing to the Lord a new song.”

The phrase is repeated over and over in the Scriptures. In the Old and New Testaments, we see “new songs” as a part of what God is doing amongst and through His people.

Isaiah 42:10 says,

Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants.

Revelation 5:9 says,

And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”

In a previous blog post I wrote that touches this topic I said this,

As a Worship Pastor who enjoys writing and reading I always catch myself wondering while reading those verses how “literal” we are meant to take them. How “new” is a “new song?”

When the psalmist tells us to “sing a new song to the Lord,” he was literally singing a new song to the Lord. So maybe our worship team should try it out. Maybe our church could write and sing new songs about what God is doing among us?

Let’s think together how the writing of new songs within our congregations can contribute to both the local and universal church!


  • Our Writing Can Help Make Worship Personal

There’s no doubt that we can find a great worship song that will fit just about any theme we need. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But, there’s something special about a song that is written from within a local church community specifically for that community of people. Maybe God is doing something great within a church and a song of celebration is what is needed. Or, maybe a church is going through a difficult time and a song about trusting in God or God being our hope and our refuge is just what our congregation needs. As a worship leader, how do we respond in these types of circumstances? What encouragement can we provide in such dark and discouraging times? I believe one of the best things we can do is write. Write from your heart and how you are feeling about what is happening in the life of your church. Write from what God is speaking to you through His Word about the circumstances your church is facing. Write to encourage others in your congregation who are chasing the same vision of reaching your community for Christ.

In the book of 1 Chronicles we are getting towards the end of King David’s reign. He is preparing for the building of the temple (although his son Solomon would be the one to build it) and dividing up responsibilities for the tribes of Israel. In chapter 25 David sets apart some men for the job of singing and leading songs. Among those men are Asaph and his sons. So basically, Asaph has been set apart by King David as a worship leader. Knowing that… if we fast forward to the book of Psalms we see that Psalms like 50, 73, 75 and 77 were all written by Asaph. So not only was he one of King David’s chief musicians but he also wrote songs for the people to sing and worship God. I think that is an important lesson for worship leaders today. Sure, times were different. They couldn’t hop on iTunes, or SongSelect and download the latest and greatest worship songs.

In this time the Israelites needed people to write songs to sing to God and their Worship Pastor stepped up! But, as with most of the Psalms, they are written from such a personal place. They are written to celebrate God, who He is and what He had done for the Israelite people. They were also written to cry out to God in difficult times. This is the lesson I think worship leaders today can learn from 1 Chronicles 25.

Hopefully all the songs that we are currently singing express theology that is true everywhere in every time. After all, we all know the importance of what we sing and the picture it paints of the Gospel. But… what is happening at any particular time in our congregation may be difficult to express for someone on the outside of the “experience.”

The songs we write can be specific expressions and responses to what God is doing in our church at any given time, just like Asaph and the Israelites. This allows what we sing to be connected to what we are learning as a congregation, and to sorrows and celebrations we have shared as a community.

Local songs help to express local content and local stories.

An author once said,

Most of us would find it strange if our pastor decided to start “covering” popular sermons. We love the idea of a timely, localized sermon. Why? Because a Spirit-filled sermon can challenge and inspire your congregation at just the right time. Songs can function the same way.

Like the altars built by the Old Testament fathers, songs can be a way for us to look back and say, “Look what God has done!” Singing those songs together as a community can be a meaningful bonding experience. Whether it’s a particular scripture, sermon series theme, or a timely word from the Lord, songs help to trace the history and story of your congregation. Our songs can be like altars that point us to the work of God in our community and lives.

Some may be thinking, “I’m not really a writer.” And that’s okay. Not all worship leaders have to write. But, as a worship leader you probably have some musical ability. Maybe there is someone in your congregation who writes poetry or lyrics. Encourage them and work with them by adding music and melodies to the words and lyrics they write. Or, maybe you want to write but have never been able to, or feel like you don’t have the time. Pray about it. Ask God to help you free up the time and to give you words and melodies that will encourage your congregation.

Remember, no one knows your congregation like you do. No one knows better what your church is facing or celebrating which means no one can write a song specifically for your congregation like you can. Write from your heart, write for your congregation and most importantly, write for the glory of God.

Is God doing something unique right now in your church? The best worship songs, I believe, come out of authentic church experiences with the Lord. I love to hear music that arises from a move of the Holy Spirit. It’s always inspired and fresh. And we should celebrate what God is doing through music.

We should write worship songs as a response to God’s greatness, not as a sign of our giftedness.

  • Our Writing Can Help People Process what God is Speaking

I’m a fan of churches being united and concentrated together. It’s incredibly helpful when the worship leader sings what the pastor is preaching. It brings continuity and focus to people in the congregation. It helps make our messages “sticky.”

I have written before about how our songs are just as much part of the “message” as the preaching in any particular gathering. Each and every week people flock in and out of the doors of church buildings throughout the United States and around the world. Many have heard the Gospel proclaimed accurately, many have heard compelling stories or corny illustrations, and sadly many haven’t heard (or remembered) anything at all! If we are using our position effectively we can battle that by saturating our congregations ears with specific messages and memorable themes!

Singing a song is a lot like riding a bicycle. Usually once you’ve done it the difficulty is gone. You can hop off and take a good long break and as soon as you are back on the seat it comes back naturally and off you go! Have you ever noticed how easy it is to recall the words of songs you haven’t heard for a numerous amount of years? As humans we store literally hundreds, even thousands, of songs in our brains without even knowing it!

Do you need a song that says something really specific? With the abundance of worship songs available to us, it’s still hard to find songs that deal with really specific issues. Think about it… a songwriter out of Nashville doesn’t want to limit the “target audience” of a particular song by being too specific. Many of the popular songs that we sing can have a multitude of meanings and applications. Now this isn’t always a bad thing… but sometimes we need to have a target and aim to hit it with our writing.

An important idea to remember is: There will always be fresh expressions of timeless truths!  

The more I study scripture and the more I encounter the living God the more convinced I become that there could not possibly be enough songs to celebrate Him and to capture all that God is! The Psalmists figured this out! Check out Psalm 146 and see how many descriptions of God you find. It says,

Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!

Our writings can open up new “eyes” for our people to see God through and new “avenues” for them to approach His holiness!

Let’s not take the same route every time! God is too big and unfathomable for us to get bored or stuck in a rut singing what we’ve always sung.

The Apostle Paul wrote letters to seven different churches. Each church was in a different location, surrounded by a different culture, & dealing with different things. This is reflected in the very different language and themes that Paul uses when writing to them. What if Paul had written a letter to one church & just sent it to all seven? Often there is a timely word for a specific church in a specific place and time. Let’s not assume the latest song written in Australia, Redding, or North Carolina is the best song for your local church. At times it may be… at other times maybe not.

What is God speaking into your church right now? How can you come alongside that? Could you write a song to help that word sink deeper?

  • It keeps you in tune with the flow of the Holy Spirit

As a worship leader, it’s easy to coast. To show up, assemble a list of hit worship songs, and plow through the music flawlessly. We worship leaders make choices every week about how and what our people will declare, pray, and celebrate together through songs. There is so much being produced these days that there has to be a healthy filter to what is allowed in our singing, but filtering that constant stream of new music can develop a culture of selfish consumerism and complacency. I’ve seen this in my own heart! It so much easier to judge and dismiss the works and expressions of others than to contribute for the ultimate benefit of the Body.

When we are not writing, we stand outside the stream of what is being created, evaluating every word, melody, hook, and chord choice. When we start writing songs for our congregation I guarantee that our perspective will shift. We can move from critics to creatives… from seeing the problem and being part of it to working towards a solution.

I think it’s better that we are intentionally invested in what God is speaking to our people. That’s why I write songs. It helps me process, “God, what are you saying to us? What do you want us to sing?” It’s more than just a cool “rock star” thing to do. It helps keep us in tune with where the Holy Spirit is leading us! Rather than complaining about how songs don’t measure up how about we write some that do? Let’s step off our musical and theological high horses and start laboring to serve the church through what we can write!

Writing songs can help us to shepherd our congregation. Songwriting can be formational. It can change our perspective and stretch our minds and hearts.

The process of songwriting can stretch our understanding of our values as well as the Gospel, and can help us to develop a culture of worship within our congregation. As we write and share songs, we are inevitably forced to ask questions: Does this teach what is true? Is this sing-able? What response does this evoke? Is this clear and understandable? Could these lyrics be misinterpreted? Will this serve our community well right now? As we create and write new songs, we ourselves are being cultivated, growing individually as songwriters and Worship Pastors and Leaders.

Knowing, loving, and praying for your community is a vital part of being an effective Worship Pastor. Writing songs specific to the struggles or journey of your congregation is a fantastic way to love them that they will immediately take hold of. The responsibility of writing lyrics for your congregation often leads to an ear toward Heaven, a heart toward people, and a new kind of dependence on the Holy Spirit.

Let’s work to view our creativity as a spiritual discipline, let’s use it as an act of worship to God. In fact, creativity is a part of being image-bearers of God!

Genesis 1:26-28 says,

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

At the outset of creation, God gave us certain qualities are in His “image” or “likeness” and among those qualities is the act of creating. By creating music that good, beautiful, and truthful, we imitate God and reflect His glory… and that leads us to our final point.

  • Songwriting Is An Opportunity To Use Our Creative Gifts For God’s Glory

I’ve heard some argue that songwriting is only for a chosen few. That the “average Joe” just doesn’t have what it takes to write a “good” song… that contains the format, fit, and finish that it takes to polish off a hit. Now certainly songwriting is a gift and a craft, but I’d like to argue that it’s not just for the “professionals.” It’s something that you can do with your team, in your church, and that you can start today. We all have a song to offer.

Psalm 40:3 says,

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.

So… what is stopping you?

Are you afraid that your songs won’t stand up next to the Hillsong, Sovereign Grace, Chris Tomlin, or Bethel songs we sing?

Let me assure you… they probably won’t.

Honestly, most of us could not write a better song than the ones that have come to be sung in thousands of churches around the world.  And that’s okay. Our songs probably won’t get a standing ovation or usher in a new movement of the Holy Spirit. They probably won’t hit the CCLI top 100 or be led in churches worldwide. If hits are what you are looking for then you most likely are going to be disappointed. But with the correct motivation and expectations songwriting has the potential to shape both the congregation and us individually in powerful ways.

What if every Pastor stopped preaching because we could just play a video from our favorite world class preacher? What if every writer stopped writing because we could all just read that best seller? What if every painter stopped painting because we could enjoy something better at the museum?

If God has given you a gift and passion to write songs be obedient. Walk in that gift! Now don’t hear this as an excuse to write bad songs for the heck of it! Write the best song you can and if the Lord leads, share it! Ephesians 2:10 says,

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

If songwriting is one of the things you were created for walk in it!


So… how are we contributing to the worship “dialogue” that is taking place in our churches on a weekly basis? Are we utilizing the power of the original?

Asking the Right Question

A few weeks ago I posted a blog about asking the necessary questions in ministry. You can find it here: Asking the Necessary Questions

Today I am going to talk specifically about the number one question worship leaders should be asking themselves. The reason this is necessary is I personally feel the tug to be concerned with many areas in a “creative” ministry. Sometimes we get stuck asking: What songs should I do? What creative elements can I add? How can we improve as a team or ministry? Etc.

All of these questions are good and at some point need to be asked… but if you lead worship, there’s a question you should be asking first and on a constant basis.

You see… we can be so caught in our worship subcultures and the idea that our worship has to “fit” in certain boxes, remain relevant, and/or look attractive from the outside that we don’t see clearly enough to ask the most important question.

What is God doing in my church?

Think about how obvious that is but how often we totally miss it! If you are anything at all like me then you understand the struggle it is not to get so caught up in what we are doing, our music and all things that accompany it, that we disconnect ourselves unintentionally from the life of the church.

It’s easy to get stuck on the “how” and neglect the “why.”

Depending on your leadership style this may be a side effect of organization and always looking ahead. I know that is the case for myself, so in order to combat that I have to look ahead but remember to seize every moment for what it is… an opportunity.

We can too easily chase the “doing” of worship ministry, rather than loving and serving God’s people.

The simple but necessary question gets overlooked… “What is God doing in my church?”

Let’s talk about worship, at its essence. If you think about it, worship is about transformation. We need to worship God more than God needs our worship! He is self sufficient, all satisfying and all satisfied. He has no needs, no beginning, no end, no ego problems that cause Him to demand worship. We worship because it transforms us. Worship can transform our churches.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says,

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

God desires transformational worship.

Let me ask you for a second to set down your instrument, turn off your Spotify worship playlist, and for a moment, stop brainstorming ways to make your ministry more “cutting edge” or relevant. What would change if you looked at your congregation through this lens? What if rather than it being about our music and our creativity, we were more focused on seeing what God was doing in our midst and partnering with that?

What is God doing in your local church? What season are you walking through? What breakthroughs are on the horizon? Because, fellow worship leaders, this is be the most important question you can ask this week regarding your ministry. You will serve God’s people better in worship when you know what God is doing.