Diagnosing Spiritual Complacency

One of the terrible diseases of Christianity today is complacency. There is a major complacency epidemic spreading amongst the Kingdom. Are you battling complacency in your ministry?

I certainly believe that Satan is a master deceiver and uses many techniques to disarm and neutralize Believers. I wholeheartedly believe that one of Satan’s strategies is to plant the seed of complacency.

I have a friend who served a tour of duty in Iraq. On that tour of duty he worked many road checkpoints and was issued, along with his other soldiers, some very particular gear. Among that gear was the normal body armor and helmet, but that gear also included padding and armor for their upper arms and thighs, as well as a groin guard. All of this gear had one mission in mind: to keep them alive and protected in the event of an IED explosion. As you can imagine all that gear made the already intense heat nearly unbearable. So for that reason many of the soldiers would remove the gear when officers were not around. One particular day there were no officers on site and a newer enlisted soldier was in the guard tower wearing his helmet causing many of the others to poke fun at him. On that particular day an enemy assailant just so happened to be taking aim with a long-range rifle and shot that soldier in the head. The helmet and his lack of complacency saved his life, whereas many of the other soldiers would have been killed. I say all of that to make this point: in combat complacency kills.

In Amos 6:1 the Lord spoke to the backslidden Israel through His prophet Amos. It says,

Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come!

The Lord was addressing to the people who were self-satisfied and in their comfort zone. They felt self-sufficient and strong enough in their own power. These people had little desire for God, and little hunger for His righteousness. They were self-confident and self-sufficient. Thus the Lord warned them about the impending judgment upon them.

How often do we fall into this exact attitude? We allow ourselves to grow complacent and live a self-satisfied life. Do we truly live dependent on God or do we try to maintain some independence? Remember, complacency makes us to feel secure in our job, safe in our strength, good about our knowledge, protected in our money and possessions, eventually blinding us and leading us to our downfall. Sometime the strike isn’t immediate. Like the enemy assailant in the story above, sometimes the enemy patently takes aim and waits. He allows us to grow comfortable, and complacent all the while he is disarming us without much effort.

A.W. Tozer says,

Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth.

Let’s get one thing straight. Complacency is a killer that can ruin ministry. Are you battling complacency in your ministry?

Revelation 3:14-22 says,

And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

We see above that lukewarmness is a spiritual condition that apparently, Jesus can’t stand. Another name for it might be “complacency.” Complacency is not contentment. Where contentment is finding joy in the blessings of walking with God, complacency is when we have stopped walking.

How do you know that this killer has crept into your ministry? Here are some telltale signs.


  • Lack of Zeal

One of the most obvious and beginning stages of complacency is a diminishing presence or absence of zeal. We all can probably remember a time in our life when we were passionate about something, maybe you are like me and when you find a new interest or hobby you dive in headfirst and it is all consuming? Hopefully we can all think back to a time when we were like that with Jesus. We didn’t need complex theology or big “spiritually correct” words. Yeah… I just went there.

Too many of us have substituted zeal for knowledge!

I honestly am pretty tired of seeing Bible believing friends of mine tearing each other to shreds over theology on Facebook for the whole world to see. I have been there too! At times I myself have replaced my zeal for pursuing Christ and acting like Him for merely knowing more about Him and maybe letting others know about it. Before anyone gets all tore up please understand that I am talking to myself here! Maybe the dissection of the Word down to the last punctuation mark was just a distraction to keep you from understanding it and doing what it says? In actuality Satan, the deceiver, doesn’t care how much you know the Word if you don’t do the Word.

Please read the Word, dissect the Word, understand the Word, memorize the Word… but then go put into practice!

  • Tradition is Doctrine

Tradition entails so much more than what most people typically think of when it is mentioned. Tradition is more than robes, recited prayers, hymns, etc… Tradition is something that can invade and ultimately take over any church, regardless of its denomination, history, or style. Let’s get this straight, when we depend on tradition for our “religious” involvement, relationship, worship, or gatherings we stop depending upon something else… namely the Bible and the Spirit of God. When that happens, we’re on a rapid descent to destruction. In fact, our gatherings become nothing more than scripted ceremonies that we have rehearsed and polished in hopes of gaining something. We might keep ourselves happy, we might grow our church in numbers or financial security, but we aren’t truly pursuing the renewed work of Christ and the Kingdom of God here in our ever-changing ministry field.

There is nothing wrong with tradition itself. But… there is something wrong with depending on tradition!

C.S. Lewis once wrote,

Security is mortals’ greatest enemy.

But what kind of “security” is he talking about? I believe he is talking about the security that comes with comfort. Maybe your comfort looks different than the blanket that Linus drags around everywhere, but it’s still serving the same purpose. Do your traditions make you feel at “home” or secure and comfortable?

Complacency makes us feel secure, but feelings can lie.

Ephesians 5:14-17 says,

This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

How is it that we can be told to make the most of every opportunity and still pass up so many because they didn’t fit into our idea of “church?” Let’s put it out there, we as a whole have become slothful, habitual, uninspired, secure, and complacent, often doing what we do for traditional reasons rather than because it’s best.

Why is it that we, who have had the precious blood of Christ cleanse our sins, now take such a mediocre and habitual approach to those things related to Christ and His cause? From our outreach, in-reach, preaching, worship, programs, aesthetics, etc… in almost every area of corporate church complacency has unfortunately become the norm.

The message is the same, but the messengers and avenues they take change!

The secular world has caught on to this! Look at the music industry. Songs and albums were once put out on vinyl, then tapes, then cd’s, and now everything is digital. The same songs that were once on vinyl can now be downloaded on iTunes for .99 cents! Businesses don’t always change the product or name… they just change the presentation, method of delivery, or audience. Why aren’t we who have the best “offering” putting forth the same effort in our church activities as we do in our personal activities and businesses?

Andrew Grove, a founder of Intel, is famously quoted for saying,

Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure.

If we stay the same, for the sake of staying the same, we get left behind and we do the message an injustice! We must understand that our complacency has eternal implications, and I’m afraid that a culture of mediocrity has now become the new tradition.

  • Tolerance of Sin

Last week I asked you to imagine a trashed house full of garbage and the flies that go along with the garbage. Sometimes our lives look a lot like that house, and the natural tendency is to clear out the flies. Sometimes we are successful and manage to shoo them all away, but as long as the garbage remains we are fighting a losing battle and those flies are inevitably going to return and multiply. So, the solution is to get rid of the garbage in our lives. We need to be concerned with the flies, but we also must work to remove the garbage to keep them out! Every trashcan is going to look different… but we certainly all have one. In his strategy of complacency, Satan watches as we clear our houses of garbage and flies…except for one room. It’s more than likely a hidden room, one we keep to ourselves. That room may be continual sin, it might be a relationship, bitterness, or a wound we haven’t allowed to heal. At times the door to that room full of garbage stays shut for a while and Satan allows us to have successes in other areas all the while the flies are just multiplying and building up in this little room. Then, out of nowhere, the door of the hidden room flies open, freeing thousands upon thousands of flies who have been breeding and waiting for just this moment.

Why does this happen? We get complacent and our complacency leads to tolerance or apathy.

Think it doesn’t happen? Take a moment to consider prominent Christian leaders, celebrities, or politicians whose lives and careers have been ruined when they fell in disgrace from one sin or another. We all know them so there is no need at mentioning names. We might look in from the outside an ask ourselves, “how would they allow that to happen” or, “why would they do that with all the success they have?” Rest assured. That fall wasn’t part of the plan when they began their career. Nobody begins a ministry with the goal to ultimately disgrace themselves and God by being brought to their knees by their own hand. Too often the fall comes from complacency. They believed the lie that they could “get away with it,” or, “it’s not that big of a deal,” and when they seemed to have it all together and under control, they grew complacent in their tolerance of sin.

Sin is sin, and all sin is bad. Don’t tolerate it! The church is to be a place of healing for sinners, but a Holy God doesn’t wink at or bless iniquity. He sent His son to die for and erase that iniquity and sin… not cover it up. The only reason the church welcomes sinners is because by God’s grace, sinners can be reborn with Christ’s righteousness. Do not tolerate sin in your own life! Letting a few “little things” slip leads to bigger slip-ups. I recently watched a video of a poor woman who slipped on an icy sidewalk and every time she would begin to regain her balance and composure she would begin to slide and fall again until ultimately she ended up on the ground. We’ve all been on an icy sidewalk… when you begin to slip it is all over. But… you know how you avoid slipping and falling? Stay off the ice.

  • Lack of Pursuit

What is a pursuit? I would define it as an intense chase of something in order to attain it.

My parents have a German shepherd by the name of Obi and he is extremely quick. One afternoon while playing and walking Obi his leash fell off of his collar and went limp in my hand. I looked down in shock only to see him looking at me with the same look of shock in his face that I had in mine. At that point the chase was on.

Why did I pursue Obi the dog? I pursued because I was afraid of what would happen if I didn’t catch him, of what would happen if I stopped pursuing him!

How many of us have stopped pursuing holiness? Lost interest or will to pursue God and spiritual growth?

Spiritual growth is marked by an aggressive intense pursuit of God. We desire His fellowship, His people, and His word. A life that lacks prayer, Bible intake, and neglects spiritual nourishment is a life that has slipped into complacency and that will see little or no fruit.

Mark 11:12-14 says,

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

When Jesus cursed the fig tree for its failure to produce fruit in the verses above He gives us a sobering lesson. Empty religion, lacking fruit, needs to and ultimately will die. In actuality the parable of the fig tree doesn’t end with Jesus’ withering curse, because the very next verse says,

On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.

The spiritual complacency or “religion” of the people had reached the place where they were making a total mockery of the temple and of the message. We may not see our situations as that bleak, but if Jesus walked into our churches what things would he need to overturn or shake up?

  • Inward Focus

One of the surest signs of complacency is a church that is self-absorbed or entirely inwardly focused. You might ask, “Tanner, what does than mean?” Let me begin my answer with another question, what is the mission of the church? That question can evoke many answers like: to provide teaching for Believers, to be a place of fellowship, a place of worship. To all of those I would say yes… but what is the first and foremost mission of the church? In Matthew 28:19 it tells us about that mission. It says,

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The mission of the church is to spread the good news and make disciples. In fact we may have to get out of our comfortable and familiar zone to do it! Acts 1:8 says,

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Is your church inward focused or outward focused? Are you so concerned about not “rocking the boat” that you leave it docked? We see in the book of Acts that in order to achieve our mission we have to wander outside of ourselves! Are we so overly concerned about keeping “our people” happy and content that we miss opportunities to reach those that haven’t yet been reached by Christ or the church? I will step out in an unpopular way and say that when a church is absorbed with just its own activities, its own problems, and its own people, it has become complacent and ineffective at achieving the goal and mission.

The primary challenge, and our primary concern, should be, “how do we reach people who don’t have a relationship with Jesus?” Most inward-focused churches are not sensitive to or even aware of this challenge. We might bank on our “friendliness” or position in the community to cut it… but the numbers show that it doesn’t! We can’t simply pray for a harvest and not plant any seeds or till any ground!

So many of us are so complacent that we fear any change or decision that might push insiders away and, frankly, impact the bottom line. Ironically, any organization, including a church, that doesn’t focus on reaching new people has already started to decline and will eventually die. In the book of Acts, James the brother of Jesus, told the Jewish Christians, who were the insiders of the day, they should not make it difficult for the Gentiles, the outsiders of the day, to turn to God. Why is it that this many years later that problem still exists? Are we making it easy for outsiders to turn to God, or are we stuck in the busy complacent work of keeping insiders happy?

Jeremiah 10:21 says,

For the shepherds have become stupid and have not sought the LORD; therefore they have not prospered, and all their flock is scattered.

Proverbs 1:32 says,

For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, and the complacency of fools will destroy them.

What is our focus as a church?


Zephaniah 1:12 says,

It will come about at that time That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, And I will punish the men Who are stagnant in spirit, Who say in their hearts, ‘The LORD will not do good or evil!’

Are you complacent? Go to war with the complacency in your life.

 

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The Difference with Preparation.

The past few weeks we have been discussing the importance of spiritual preparation before worship. We have talked about why it is important, how we do it, and this week we are going to close out our conversation by establishing the difference that our preparation makes.

When we stop to think about it, worship is a rather challenging activity. We are seeking to encounter and interact with an invisible deity. We speak and listen to a God that we cannot visibly see audibly hear. Therefore, I would go out on a limb to say that it is impossible to overstate the importance of adequate preparation for authentic worship. In fact we see how highly preparation to encounter the presence of God was held in Scripture in Exodus 19:7-20. The account found in Exodus says,

Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord. And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.” When Moses told the words of the people to the Lord, the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot; whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments. And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.” On the morning of the third day there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God, and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke because the Lord had descended on it in fire. The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. The Lord came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain. And the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

In fact, we know that this isn’t the only account in Scripture where people have prepared to encounter God. In Joshua 3:5 God instructs Joshua to prepare. Joshua 3:5 says,

Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.

Want more out of worship? Prepare.

In Psalm 24 David cites the personal qualifications of those who may comfortably go into the presence of the Lord. His point is that no one may simply barge in on the royal Lord. It takes a prepared heart.

Psalm 24:1-6 says,

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers. Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

So… we know that preparation for worship is important, but what difference does it make? What results can we expect to see from our preparation?


  • Gain Heavenly Perspective.

I have found that it is FAR too easy to get caught up in the small things and begin to “create mountains out of molehills” within the church. In a single service there are so many things that we can critique: the level of lighting, the song selection, the volume level, the seating layout, the length of the sermon, etc…

We even see someone caught up in the logistics of worship instead of the point in John 4 when Jesus is seen speaking to the woman at the well.

Take a look at that encounter in John 4:7-26,

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”

In that passage the conversation turned to worship. The woman’s concern was where the worshiping was done (on Mt. Gerizim or in Jerusalem), but we see that Jesus was concerned about how and in what spirit it was done (in spirit and in truth). The phrase “in spirit and in truth” carries several levels of meaning, but through all its meanings runs the thread that teaches us the preparation of our spirit is more important than external circumstances or the location of our worship. Because of who God is, how we worship matters!

It is through this passage, and others, that I conclude that for the most part the external things/ logistics don’t matter. It is also evident that it is possible for every factor and logistic to be perfect/ without complaint and for us to still miss out on authentic worship. Our preparation will likely be the key that makes the difference.

In Ecclesiastes 5:2 Solomon states,

God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.

In actuality, this is a statement of perspective, not actual distance. God is all-knowing, Creator, perfect, above all, and infinite. God is God and we aren’t. God is in heaven and we are on earth.

It’s all about perspective.

One of the great benefits of preparation is gaining a proper perspective of God.

With this perspective we not only gain a view of the throne of God, but we also gain a view from the throne of God. Once we have entered into God’s presence, we look down on our world from his perspective. We find that what we thought was a mountain was a molehill after all. What seemed great and mighty in the world’s eyes turns out to be small and insignificant in God’s eyes.

When we prepare and encounter the very presence of God we begin to see life from his perspective. When we worship we gain a view of the throne of God, and hopefully from the throne of God.

  • Wash Ourselves Beforehand to get the Most out of our Time.

Ever feel like by the time you feel as if you are in the presence of God that particular portion of the service is over?

Why does it take so long for us to get to that point?

Preparation.

In Old Testament times, the tabernacle in which the Jewish people worshipped and prayed consisted of several parts: the outer court; the inner court, and the Holy of Holies. The general “public” was restricted to the outer court. The priests had access to the inner court where they would make sacrifices on behalf of the people. But only the high priest could go behind the veil that separated the inner court from the Holy of Holies.

The room known as the Holy of Holies was the most sacred area of the tabernacle of Moses and temple of Jerusalem. The Holy of Holies was constructed to very particular specifications as found in the chapter of Exodus 26. Feel free to take a look at that chapter on your own… the details are SO specific! God takes His spirit serious!

Tabernacle

The Holy of Holies was accessible only to the Israelite high priest. Once a year, on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, the high priest was permitted to enter the small, enclosure to burn incense and sprinkle the blood of a sacrificial animal on the mercy seat of the Ark. By doing so, he would be providing sacrifice and atonement for the sins of the people of Israel. The Holy of Holies was separated from the rest of the tabernacle/temple by the veil in order to prevent in accidental views of the presence of God.

Habakkuk 1:13a says,

You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong.

God’s eyes are literally too pure to look on evil, and He can tolerate no sin. The veil and the elaborate rituals undertaken by the priest were a reminder that man could not carelessly or irreverently enter God’s awesome presence, but instead he must prepare. Before the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he had to wash himself, put on special clothing, bring burning incense to let the smoke cover his eyes from a direct view of God, and bring sacrificial blood with him to make atonement for sins. After all of that preparation the high priest still had to wear bells on his ankles and a rope around his waist in order to let those on the other side of the veil know that he was still alive and give them a way to remove his body if he wasn’t.

Hebrews 9:6-7 says,

These preparations having thus been made, the priests go regularly into the first section, performing their ritual duties, but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the unintentional sins of the people.

In order to qualify and survive the privilege of meeting with God, the priest had to undergo certain rituals of purification. Today, we qualify to be in God’s presence not on the basis of rituals, but on the basis of our righteousness in Christ. We are all called to intimate fellowship with God, however, going beyond the veil and communing with God at the deepest level requires that we be prepared.

The priests didn’t rely on another leader to prepare them to encounter the presence of God. They took it upon themselves. They washed, scrubbed, prayed, fasted, etc… in order that they might be given the privilege. What or who are you waiting on?

Unfortunately our time together as united worshippers is limited… so we must pre-wash in order to be ready to enter in!


Preparation makes a difference! I challenge you to try it!

Our preparations in no way make us any more acceptable in God’s eyes. We can’t earn love. Jesus bought our ticket… he provided our way.

Hebrews 6:19-20a establishes this,

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf.

Because of this we should prepare and enter in. Hebrews 10:19-23 says,

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Why Prepare?

Worship… we all talk about it. We “participate” in it. We have grown accustomed to the “routine” of it…

How do we prepare for worship? Is it necessary? What difference does it make?

Over the next three weeks I plan to do a short series on our preparation for worship. Why we prepare, how we prepare, and the difference that preparation makes.


I’ve planned and led many worship services over the past few years and I’ve seen many different responses. It is easy to be encouraged by those who are outwardly responding to the presence of God, and it is even easier to get discouraged by those who we perceive as not “worshipping.” But something that I find necessary to constantly remind myself is that we can respond to a “moment” outwardly with an inwardly disengaged heart and mind.

That thought is horrifying.

There is no special equation for church worship services. No magical chord that we can hit or song we can sing that will instant bring the Spirit of God rushing in like a tidal wave. As a Worship Leader I need to be reminded that spiritual preparation is what sets our services apart. Spiritual preparation is what sets our worship apart.

Think about it… we wouldn’t go into a meeting with the CEO of the company we work for unprepared. We wouldn’t walk into the Oval Office and plop down in front of the President without a plan.

If you’ve ever had guests stay at your house for a night or two you know the preparations that went on before their arrival. You tidied up the whole house. You made the bed in the guest room with new clean linens. You scrubbed the toilet and the shower. How do you prepare your heart and mind for worship before asking the Spirit of God to indwell our worship?

We prepare for many things in life… how much more preparation should we do before we approach the throne of God in worship?

This week at church we are preparing floors for new carpet and walls for paint. Before we paint the walls we have to go and sand down any bumps or imperfections. We have to fill gaps, apply primer, and wait for the right time to begin painting. We can’t just begin slapping on coats of paint! To get the desired result takes time and preparation. Our worship works in the same way. We can’t walk into the sanctuary willy nilly on Sunday morning and strike the first chord and “BOOM” we are off to the races.

So… why do we prepare for worship?


  • To engage Spiritually.

We are all probably “used” to church “worship.” Because of that I believe that the more we have immersed ourselves in worship the more intense our preparation should be.

Ultimately, worship is a matter of the heart. It’s not an opportunity to observe, critique, or fulfill our own wants and desires. Instead it is an opportunity to respond in spirit and truth. John 4:23-24 says,

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.

Our worship is the response of our heart. If we aren’t preparing our hearts, then we’ll be more prone to engage emotionally but be passive spiritually. To respond outwardly and be inwardly disengaged.

  • To realize our dependence on God.

In all of our preparing we are both being obedient and reminding ourselves that we can do nothing apart from the moving of the Holy Spirit. We are entirely dependent on God to have an encounter with God.

Like we said above… “There is no particular element or song we can include to usher in the presence of the Lord.” If there were I am sure we would have it sown to a set science by now.

In our preparation, leading, and worshipping we may get a sense of what the Holy Spirit wants to do.

This works for both worship leaders and congregational worshippers. When we prepare our hearts before worship we are removing ourselves from the equation and moving out of the way in order to interpret and follow the Lord in our worship to Him. It’s always nice to enter into a worship service with a vision or word from God and preparation makes a way for us to do this.

  • To focus on what Matters.

Psalm 95:1-6 says,

Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.

Psalm 95 may be well known by many… and it draws our eyes, hearts, and minds to what really matters when we gather. This psalm also provides instruction on how we are to come worship.

“Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving…”

We are to enter into His presence with thanksgiving…already prepared and praising.

Preparation tends to point our hearts in the direction of the things that really matter. Things that matter to God. When we’re spiritually prepared, we’re not as concerned about songs and arrangements, volume and lighting, new or old. Those things may be important to us, but the presence of Jesus is so much more deserving of our attention. When we ignore the preparation of your heart, trivial matters tend to steal the show.


Let’s leave with a challenge to prepare ourselves for worship and see what the Lord can do both in our own hearts as well as the hearts of our congregations.

Isaiah 12:5 says,

Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth.

Hebrews 12:28 says,

Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe.

Does your life reflect Thankfulness?

As a rollercoaster holiday season approaches one word gets tossed around quite a bit… thankfulness. What does it mean to be thankful? How does one live life thankfully? Is it a natural response or a choice? What are we thankful for?

Often times we dumb down a life of thankfulness to simply giving “thanks.” When in reality it’s so much more… a life of thankfulness is a behavioral style, a thought pattern and mindset, an attitude, and a choice most of all.

Psalm 107:8-9 says,

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Being thankful is something that’s always within our control.

Nothing turns us into bitter dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. We see it all around us! We live in an ungrateful dissatisfied society and unfortunately that spirit has made its way in and is prevalent in our churches. Nothing robs us of the joy of Christ and our salvation faster than neglecting to recognize and be thankful for the things around us.

We see in Romans 1:21 that when humanity rebels we neglect to recognize and give thanks to God. It says,

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Have we forgotten how dependent we are on God for everything?

Let’s not be foolish or ungrateful. Let’s give thanks.

Below I will offer some thoughts and applications on how we can develop, maintain, and nurture a thankful heart which is then exhibited through a thankful lifestyle.


  • Focus on Christ.

Psalm 103:1-6 says,

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.

When we read this thankful Psalm it is necessary to notice that the first thing we must do is focus mind and heart on God! Looking at the passage we can see the priority that the Psalmist David places on recognizing that all we have to be thankful for comes from Christ. Everything within the Psalmist David, and hopefully us, should rejoice and say “Bless the Lord” first in all situations.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:19-20,

Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

James 1:17 says,

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Let’s open our eyes to the glory of God! But, if that alone isn’t enough to spark your flame just count up the numerous undeserved gifts God spreads before each of us every day!

  • Remember how far we’ve been Brought.

This lengthy section out Psalms 107:13-32 recalls the numerous deliverances the Lord has provided His people,

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.

Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

We can also look into the Old Testament at the story of Moses and see how God used him to accomplish His task of delivering the Israelites out of Egypt. Even when Pharaoh and his army pursued they were crushed by the sea at the hand of God.

So… let me ask…

How has the Lord delivered you?

What is your testimony? What did the Lord bring you out of? We all have a story, because we are all undeserving of anything expect a sinful, pitiful life that ends with us being in Hell.

But… God ransomed us while we were still undeserving sinners.

Isaiah 53:4-6 says,

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

We all have plenty to be thankful for. Give thanks.

  • Make the Choice.

Paul wrote in Colossians 3:15,

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

A spirit of thanksgiving is always the mark of a joyous Christian.

Colossians 3:15-17 goes on to say,

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

As believers we are called to be a thankful people! We have the most to be thankful for out of anyone… think about it, the riches of the earth are temporal but the gift of Heaven is eternal. So… we don’t have to be the richest, most successful, or popular people on earth to have a thankful Spirit. In Christ we have more than enough to rejoice over!

2 Corinthians 9:15 says,

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

Thankfulness is a choice.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says,

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

It is the will of God that we live in a constant thankful attitude!

Choose thankfulness. There will always be hardships and trials but because of Christ we have hope and that is enough to be thankful for.


Psalm 106:1 says,

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

We Do What It Takes.

When the projectors aren’t working, when the sanctuary is too cold, when drama breaks out who are they gonna call? Unfortunately not Ghostbusters…

No job description can truly summarize the duties of a minister.

In John 6 we see a very familiar and well-known Bible story unfold. John 6:1-5 says,

After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”

Most of us recognize this story as one of the miraculous works of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and it is, but I also see this as a description of the life of a minister or disciple. Jesus, the Son of God, the miracle worker, the God incarnate feeds the crowd that was following Him! We know that the crowd obviously needed more than earthly bread and fish, but Jesus recognized a need and fulfilled it.

The job description of one in ministry is exactly that. The work is never ending, and the demands of ministry don’t conveniently fall into a 9-5 schedule. Like a doctor who is on call, ministers are merely between tasks… never really “off the job.”

Ministry is a 24/7 job because the needs of church or ministry remain constant.

We do what it takes to get the job done… regardless of what the job description may say. So… how do we maintain this lifestyle? We obviously aren’t superhuman. Below we will think together on how to be an effective minister, get the tasks done, and not kill ourselves in the process.


  • When possible leave work at work.

In some fields of work when you go home you are free from the duties that come with your job. You can’t really take a piece of machinery home or hold face-to-face meetings from the comfort of your bedroom. Ministry cannot be described in this manner. People have needs that arise at all times of the day and night and need your help “on-the-spot” without warning.

That is exactly what we signed up for.

Pastoral ministry is relational, and relationships are developed in and grown in times of need… and we all know that needs don’t arise according to our convenience or schedule.

However, some things just aren’t that urgent. Some things can be left at work until tomorrow. That bulletin can be printed 12 hours from now, and those lights can be adjusted and programmed another time. When possible leave work at work and allow yourself to rest and be refreshed.

Even Jesus needed some “time-off.” In Matthew 14:23 it says,

And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.

  • Family first.

It is pretty well known that the families of a minister are often the one’s sacrificing the most. Often the needs of a minister’s family are the last to be taken care of. They usually receive the leftovers… however little that is.

But… we must work diligently to see that our family is prioritized correctly and not deserted for the church. In fact, we see in 1 Timothy 3:12 that part of the qualifications for a minister is to have a healthy household.

Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.

All throughout Scripture we see the importance of family in ministry. In 1 Peter 3:7 Paul calls us to live in “understanding” with our families and to care for each other’s needs in more than just physical ways. 1 Peter 3:7 says,

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

For those of us who are married we are called to love our wives/ spouses like Christ loved the church! Ephesians 5:25 says,

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Lastly, Matthew 19:4-6 says,

He said, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

The ESV Study Bible commentary is very beneficial when interpreting this passage. It says,

From the moment they are married, they are unified in a mysterious way that belongs to no other human relationship, having all the God-given rights and responsibilities of marriage that they did not have before. Being “one flesh” includes the sexual union of a husband and wife … but it is more than that because it means that they have left their parents’ household … and have established a new family, such that their primary human loyalty is now to each other, before anyone else.

Our loyalty to our families is unlike loyalty shared with any other mortal being. We must place priority on those who help hold us up, who we come home to, who understand us, and care deeply for us.

We cannot forsake our families.

  • Do not over-commit.

This is a category than I myself struggle with in a very real way. How many times have you over-committed yourself to the point of breakdown? I have over and over again… in fact; I am over-committed at this very moment.

It never happens on purpose! We have an opportunity that arises that really is a good thing and we hop on board eagerly to offer our assistance. Boom! We have too much going on and things get neglected… for me the thing that usually gets neglected is my own physical health/ rest and my poor wife.

Busyness is a real issue!

The devil would love to take us “out of the game” by bogging us down and making it impossible for us to do exceptionally well in any area of our ministry.

This is where priorities are key… we must learn the art of saying “no.”

In ministry sometimes I think we are scared of saying “no” for the fear of letting someone down or missing an opportunity to further the Kingdom of God. But what we often forget is that we are meant to equip… not do ALL the work alone!

Ephesians 4:12 actually says what our ministry is…

To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.

If we are spending our time equipping others then we should be able to share the workload! It is important for us to remember that it isn’t us that builds the church… it is Christ.

In Matthew 16:18 Jesus says exactly that to Simon Peter,

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

  • Make time to care for your own spiritual needs.

This should seem obvious, but unfortunately it is easier said than done. As ministers we are constantly pouring ourselves out and into others and if we don’t take time to be refilled then the supply is going to run dry. It’s not a matter or IF… but rather WHEN.

Even Jesus separated Himself from others to pray and refuel.

Mark 1:35 says,

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Matthew 14:23 says,

After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.

We must not sacrifice our own relationship with the Father to get a job “done.” In reality our congregations NEED us to be ever connected to the Lord. Take time. Get alone. Allow God’s Word to speak to you.

It is through the Father alone that we have the strength to handle the tasks of ministry. Rely on Him.

Does your Demeanor encourage Worship?

Think back to an awkward moment you’ve experienced where you watched a person speak and through their actions, attitude, or demeanor you could even tell from your perspective that they didn’t truly believe what they were saying. Maybe you are thinking of a politician or a public speaker… but how many of us thought of believers? Do people see that we believe what we say, sing, and preach?

Take a moment and think about it.

What is weirder than a joyless Christian leader? How is the way that we carry ourselves in front of others impacting the way they look at our beliefs? We may believe everything we say and stand for, but if our demeanor doesn’t reflect that belief then we are fighting an uphill battle when evangelizing or speaking about Christ. We certainly aren’t going to kindle a fire or joy inside others while our hearts remain cold and our attitude and faces remain joyless.

How amazing is Christ? We’ve ben given the gift of grace and we have the privilege to sing about the good news!

How can we remain stone-faced?

Philippians 4:4 says,

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

Are we expressing joy? I dare to say that we live in a narcissistic culture, and we often fall into the temptation of placing the emphasis on ourselves and because of that our worship has the tendency of turning inwards. How many selfies are posted on social media everyday? What is worse is then people will turn around and check back on their own picture to see how many people have liked or complimented it!

There are many obvious problems with this inward focused attitude that we have developed, including the fact that an inward focus in worship cannot provide pure genuine joy because we are placing our joy in the hands of our culture and circumstances.

Where do you gather your self-worth? The world? Your friends and family? Or Jesus?

Matthew 6:21 says,

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

What are you treasuring? Where does your joy come from or what does it depend on?

Does your demeanor from stage properly reflect the fullness of joy which you have in Christ? How can we show it?


  • Truly develop a heart for Worship

I fully believe that we sometimes get too bound up with the technical aspects of worship and forget the relational side of it. Technology is a great thing! Providing an atmosphere for our worship is a good thing too! But… when we allow our focus to shift or our emphasis to waver from why we are doing what we do then our joy becomes dependent on the execution of the technical aspects of our worship. When things don’t go as planned or we feel like something wasn’t “up to par” then our joy suffers.

Then what are we truly worshipping? Are we worshipping the way we do worship? Or are we worshiping God who is worthy of our worship?

We may admonish our praise teams to hit all the right notes and say, “Don’t forget to smile while your doing it.” But often times the emphasis is still on the execution and not the hearts of the worshipper. I believe that genuine worship truly begins when we get our hearts right and because of that we can sing, play, dance, etc.

There is a difference between great worship and a great concert. We leave great concerts unchanged… but worship calls us to move.

  • Have a Joyous and Worshipful Attitude

When it comes to a worshippers attitude it is important to understand who we are worshipping and why.

Acts 17:24-25 tells us exactly who we are worshiping and puts God in perspective to us when it says,

God who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives life, breath, and all things.

The purpose of our worship is to glorify, honor, praise, exalt, and please God our Creator who is in need of nothing we can give, but who delights in our praise. The fact that our God delights in anything that we do should provide enough reasoning and joy to worship continually. If that alone isn’t enough we must remember that our worship is a way that we can show our adoration and loyalty to God for His wonderful undeserved gift of grace in which He provides us with the way to escape the bondage of our sin.

Our worship should occur with a joyous attitude because it should cause us to reflect on the majesty and graciousness of God and Christ, in contrast to our own unworthiness.

God does not have to have our worship, but we should be joyful that He gives us the fact to worship Him.

  • Express your Joy through your Face

This should be a given. When we are joyful we smile, and it is through that smile that our joy becomes contagious.

Have you ever seen a person and just felt that there was something different about them? Maybe they were just positive all the time? Maybe you’ve never seen them without a smile on their face?

I guarantee you that their life isn’t perfect… so why are they smiling? Through Christ we have much to be thankful and joyful over, and we should place those things above our circumstances.

Let’s face it… people don’t want to sing along with a worship leader about the joy of salvation while the worship leader remains unexpressive. How is that believable? An even better question is: How is that possible?

Don’t be afraid to show your emotion.

Keep your circumstances in perspective and smile on! It will be beneficial for not just you… but also for your congregation.

  • Make sure your Joy is Genuine

Worship comes from deep within. We simply cannot fake authentic worship. When we worship our God it appears on our faces, in our voices, and is evident in our demeanor. As worship leaders it should be our goal every time we lead to truly worship our God.

Did you catch that? We should truly worship God. It is personal.

When we can truly worship our God while leading, others around us will benefit. Our worship isn’t about us. It is about God, and in the end we are nothing more than “lead worshippers.” We can’t make people worship… but we can provide the opportunity and a God-honoring Biblical example.


I will leave you with the words of John 15:9-11,

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Have you received the love of the Father? If you believe that you have then your face and demeanor will show it.

Check the Ego at the Door

Everyone has dealt with someone who is a “know-it-all” before. Large egos are easy pretty easy to spot and are typically pretty difficult to deal with. Problems with the human ego or an inflated “self-worth” or importance have been around a long time… in fact, I would argue that ego problems go back nearly almost to the beginning of creation. I think we can find our first ego issue in Genesis 3:1-7 where it says,

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

I find it quite interesting that one of the very devices (ego) manipulated to deceive Eve in the Garden was the very thing that caused Lucifer to fall in the first place. Isaiah 14:12-15 paints us a picture of a self-absorbed Lucifer with an ever growing ego who desired to be seen as more than he really was.

Isaiah 14:12-15 says,

How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit.

Obviously we can see by the end of that verse what the outcome of that thinking was… A man named King Solomon, who people say could be the wisest man to have ever lived, said in proverbs 16:18 that,

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Now obviously we have a lot more at play here with the fall of both Lucifer and man than just a human ego issue… but I think we can see a self-importance or self-inflation issue displayed in the Garden of Eden when Eve is deceived by Satan into believing that she could “be like God.” So… we have our very first example of an ego problem.

So… what is the problem with a little confidence? Nothing… if found in Christ.

But… an ego is an entirely different monster. We see in Scripture that the Biblical model for Believers is actually quite opposite to having an ego or inflated sense of confidence in self. The Biblical model or Christ standard is one of humility and of dying to oneself.

Luke 9:23 says,

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

So… for those like myself who like to be involved and love to serve within the Body of Christ and may struggle with pride, ego, or over inflated confidence… what do we do? How can we continue to serve and make sure that the attention is being directed in the right place and that we are staying “in-check?”


  • Check your motives.

Where is our focus? Ourselves? Or others? Matthew 22:37-39 says,

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself

In this verse Jesus teaches us that the greatest commandments were to love God with all we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves. When we truly strive to keep these commandments it is impossible to have an ego issue because we are essentially removing all the focus from ourselves and placing it where it should be… Jesus and others. That’s what it’s all about in the end anyways right?

Our insecurities are often manifested as excess confidence and the desires of the flesh and this world scream out for attention, acknowledgement, and praise but for those of us who have been reborn in Christ we no longer are enslaved to those desires and we no longer must give them dominion over us.

Galatians 2:20 says,

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 5:24 says,

And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

  • Live humbly.

Lets face it… none of us are the best thing since sliced bread or two-ply toilet paper. Without Jesus we are worthless because it is in Him that our only worth is found.

A humble heart has no room for an ego because it recognizes that all we have and all we are comes solely from God. In 1 Corinthians 4:7 Paul gives us a very serious reminder that all we have: our talents, successes, wealth, knowledge, gifts and abilities, etc… come from God and because of that we have nothing of our own to boast of.

1 Corinthians 4:7,

For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?

It is reassuring to know that all we have we have been given and that the Lord’s work isn’t dependent on our talent, skill, or anything else other than our obedience. God hasn’t called us to be the best, most adorned, highly skilled and praise worthy leaders… He has called us to be humble servants.

Micah 6:8 says,

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

1 Peter 5:5-6 says,

Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you

Indeed, Jesus Christ is to be the example for how we should live and He Himself lived humbly. In Matthew 11:29 Jesus says,

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.

Psalm 51:17 says,

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

We aren’t called to be experts. We are called to be humble servants.

Romans 12:3-5 says,

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

If the answer to your problems is yourself then you haven’t addressed the biggest problem of all. Don’t let your ego be your idol… check it at the door.

How are we to use our Authority?

Many of us have been given a position of authority. What’s yours? Are you a pastor? Supervisor? Sunday School teacher? Politician? Parent? Etc… You’d be surprised how many of us have been given some amount of authority that we brush off, don’t think about, or don’t even realize we have. Some of us may feel qualified… others maybe not so much. So… what do we do with this authority? We recognize that without leaders and without authority the world around us would be in shambles and chaos, but there is harm if we use our authority incorrectly or for the wrong reasons as well.

I find it interesting that in 2 Corinthians 10 while Paul is both describing himself and defending his ministry he says what we find in verse 8:

Authority, which the Lord gave for building you up and not for destroying you.

Wow. As much as I have loved and read the letters of Paul this one verse never has stood out to me as much as it does in light of having been entrusted with some authority. Let’s take a second to evaluate… how often do we use our authority as a weapon to get things done the way we “want them” or to make things fit our preferences? Do we find it necessary to win every argument or to make our opinion or say known? Is it our way or the highway? Do we lord over people with our authority or do we use our authority to enable them, to build them up, and to create growth in other’s lives?

Let’s take a second to evaluate our authority and how we can use it for the building up of others and the success and growth of the Kingdom of God.


  • Have a humble spirit.

All of us have known a “know it all” and I would be willing to bet that all of us detested that very thought or attitude. How do we carry ourselves as leaders? Do we know it all or are we open to admitting that we don’t know all the answers and maybe there are other ways of accomplishing tasks other than our own?

Philippians 2:3-4 says,

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

I believe there is a difference between an authority figure and a leader. I also believe that we as believers should strive to be the latter of the two. A leader understands that they don’t possess all the answers and uses the people around them to collectively achieve success. A leader empowers and enables the people around them to help them reach their full potential in a task, position, or job. There is a whole lot more to leadership than simply providing the tools necessary to complete a job.

When asked what the qualifications for becoming a “leader” were John Quincy Adams said this,

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

  • Celebrate the successes of the team.

Have you ever worked for someone who only noticed when you fell short on a task or didn’t complete it in the way they had envisioned? They only noticed the negative when you are faithful and diligent one hundred percent of the time. It stinks.

A good leader uses their authority wisely by recognizing those around them for what they do for the “team.” In every application it is easy to feel “under-appreciated” or not needed, but when a leader “brings to the light” or raises awareness of what others are doing it in turn reminds every team member that they are an important.

We are well aware that 1 Corinthians 12:14-26 says,

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

Using your authority for the benefit of those around you will go a long way to encouraging your team and achieving excellence, and when we do receive praise as the “leader” it is important to acknowledge the contributions of the team.

A solid leader needs no other praise than that of achieving, encouraging, enabling, and inspiring.

When Dwight D. Eisenhower was asked to define leadership he did so like this,

Leadership: the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.

  • Replicate yourself.

Proverbs 11:14 says,

Where there is no guidance the people fall, But in abundance of counselors there is victory.

Good leaders or authority figures aren’t afraid to train up replacements for themselves! That may seem crazy but a successful leader uses authority as an opportunity to help others gain insight and abilities.

If you aren’t replicating yourself by pouring into others around you then you need to evaluate what your motives behind leadership and authority are.

An effective leader doesn’t worry about team members around them surpassing them in knowledge, skill, or ability. Instead they recognize that the success and enablement of others is what creates overall success. If we aren’t working to build our kingdom, but rather the kingdom of God, then it shouldn’t be a concern anyways.

John Buchan said,

The task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already.


So… we all have a choice to make. Will we use our authority to our advantage, or will we humble ourselves and use our experiences, intelligence, and position to encourage, enable, and build up those around us?

Will you use your authority to build others up or destroy them? The choice is yours.

Proverbs 29:2

When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan.

What is your Platform: Using our Opportunities Wisely

Many of us would say that we have been blessed with many opportunities. Do you recognize those opportunities? In what ways do those around you receive blessing through the opportunities that you are given?

Some of us are full-time ministers. Some are students. Others of us interact with people each and every day… maybe you are a: police officer, school teacher, mechanic, maintenance man, waiter or waitress, etc. We all have different talents and abilities and different ministry fields that we have been given the opportunity to serve in.

On a side note: If you aren’t a minister then I would say to you that you have a a wonderful opportunity to live as Christ in front of others! People expect “holiness” from clergy… and unfortunately many expect hypocrisy from “average” church-goers. I would challenge you to not be “average.” Use your opportunities wisely!

Romans 12:1 says,

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

What part(s) of yourself can you give? What part(s) are you holding back? What opportunities have you been given? What is your sacrifice? Opportunities sometimes can be hidden, misconceived, or unidentified… but I promise they are there. How are you serving?

If you’re a Christian, God has given you at least one spiritual gift. And those gifts aren’t just for your own benefit; their purposes are to bless the entire Body of Christ. When you discover your spiritual gift(s) and use them everyday in your particular ministry field and in your local church, you’ll see amazing growth take place in your life, ministry, and in your congregation.

1 Peter 4:10 says,

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.

You see… your gifts aren’t really for you at all. They are for God and others. If you think your talents or gifts are simply ways in which you can be successful, make a lot of money, and please yourself then you’ve missed the point of your life… and I am afraid many of us have missed it and we don’t even realize it. God has given us talents to benefit others, not ourselves, and believe it or not, it will recipricate because God has given other people talents that benefit us.

We all have different opportunities and gifts and each part matters. There are no insignificant people in the family of God. You were created, formed , and placed to serve God and bless others.

Your gifts, talents, and opportunities matter to God.

1 Corinthians 4:1-2 says,

This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.

Are you using what God has given you for the benefit of others and your congregation and to make the world a better place? Or are you just wasting them or using those talents to benefit yourself?

Below I will outline a few steps to finding and using your opportunities and gifts to honor and glorify God.


  • Being willing

The first step in discovering and using our opportiunities and gifts to glorify God is to be willing to do so. This sounds simple, but it might not be as easy as you think. What is our reaction going to be when God presents an opportunity for us to scrub toilets, visit a nursing home, or do maintainence work around an elderly person’s home? Many of us might shrink away form the idea of serving “behind the scenes” in inconspicuous ways. We might think that God has got more “in-store” for us than that. I would tell you that no job is too lowly for a servant of Christ, and maybe that this service is a test form God to see how we will handle a forefront job or position. Don’t just look fort the glorifying jobs… because they are all glorifying in God’s eyes. Hopefully it’s the Father that you are trying to please and bring glory to anyways right?

Serve. Use your opportunity.

  • Being available

I don’t know about you, but I consistently find myself wondering where my day has gone. Time is precious… and SO many of us over-commit ourselves and get busy with things that we shouldn’t be so concerned with. It is because if that point that I think one of Satan’s best fiery darts is busyness.

Ephesians 5:15-20 says,

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We see Paul here in Ephesians calling us as believers to see the way in which we use our time as important. Paul says to us, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time.” God urges us to use our time wisely and to take advantage of our every opportunity to serve, honor, and glorify Him before those opportunities disappear.

We can use our time wisely when we put God’s will into action in our lives, caring for one another, spreading the good news of salvation, and anything else that gives glory to God.. Ask yourself, “What can I do today to glorify my Savior Jesus Christ?”

Therefore… time is a precious commodity that runs out.

  • Being prepared

Anyone who has read any of my blogs previously knows that I am huge on preparedness. I think that in any task, no matter how medial, we should be prepared and equipped to do the job at hand with excellence. , I have noticed that in my particular area, corporate worship, we can too easily develop or encourage a mindset that if we are not “worship leader” we can kick back and place the our weight on someone else in “leadership.” But, let me clarify one thing, as servants of the Lord we are all “worship leaders” in different areas. How are you leading?

Being prepared can make a world of difference. Being early to practice running sound, projected lyrics, or lights can make services run smoother and more effectively. Spending time preparing in prayer can wage war against the spirits that fight for our souls on Sundays and every other day. Preparing by training and investing time into others can keep someone struggling anchored to a Christian body of believers or help reveal a personal spiritual gift to someone who may be unaware of it.

Every time you serve, whether it is in the front or back, interior or exterior of the church, you have the privilege and opportunity to encourage and lead others to worship God. So use everything you have to point people to Jesus.

Prepare yourself. Prepare others.


How are you using your opportunities and gifts? What are you holding back?

How Prepared are We?

Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I am a stickler on being prepared. I feel that if you are going to do something then you better be prepared to do it right and to the best of your abilities or you shouldn’t even bother at all. So many times though I feel as if we as worship pastors get into the daily “grind” or routine and enter unprepared into one of the most important things we do each and every week… leading congregational worship!

You might be saying, “Woah! Woah! Woah! Hold on to your horses there hotshot… you don’t know my life or my habits.” That may be true… but I believe that if we prepared ourselves and our congregations to worship on a regular basis then we would be seeing so much more true, authentic, and Spirit-filled worship in our local churches.

I’ll put it this way… being prepared for a worship service means more than having faithfully practiced and rehearsed the songs to your accepted level of excellence. Being prepared is more than having a strict minute-by-minute or song-by-song schedule to abide by, a team of professionals who could play the songs forward or backwards at any desired speed, or having all your segues and cues polished and ready to go.

Being prepared for worship includes being ready to lead, sing, and play… but it also includes so much more.

God is on a search for true worshipers. John 4:23 says,

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”

Are we being faithful to worship and lead in spirit and truth? Unfortunately for some of us that means we may need to make more time to prepare ourselves, and our teams.


Let me clarify one point before we dive deeper into this subject. We MUST prepare ourselves musically to lead worship. We CANNOT expect to properly lead people if we don’t know our stuff! So, take that as you will. We all prepare differently, but we should settle for nothing less than excellence. Our God is deserving of more than mediocre unprepared worship… and when we continually thank Him for the opportunity to do what we do and yet we don’t spend the time and effort to adequately prepare then we are blowing the opportunity we have thanked Him for. God doesn’t NEED us to accomplish His task and will, but He desires to see us used in His purposes. Prepare well and be ready to be used.


Now that I’ve made that one clarification lets take a look at how we can and should prepare for leading worship.


  • Prepare your Heart and Mind

It is of absolute importance that we take time to prepare our hearts to worship God before we set foot in the sanctuary on Sunday morning. True spiritual preparation takes time and effort and isn’t done in the fifteen minute gap between sound check and service.

In fact, God made this crystal clear when He gave the law in Exodus 19. Verses 10- 11 say,

The Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.

God called the people to prepare to come into His presence, or even near His presence when He came down onto the mountain where He would speak to Moses. The people weren’t even on the same mountain and they had to prepare! We are actually approaching and entering into the Lord’s presence with our worship… we should seriously prepare! We see consistently throughout Scripture and history that God wants His people to get ready to come near to Him, to prepare themselves for an encounter with Him.

When we take the time to think about what we are doing when we enter into worship, and lead worship, suddenly personal preparation becomes a priority. Take the time to think about the God that we are worshipping.

  • Prepare your Congregation

We know that corporate worship is of central importance. Psalm 22:22 says,

I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you

We are to praise God in the midst of the congregation! Worshipping Christ together is vital for us as Christians. Life wasn’t meant to be done alone… and neither is Christianity. So think about it, you’re worship isn’t for you… it is ultimately for God and also for encouraging your brothers and sisters in Christ.

A runner wouldn’t enter into a marathon without specific training the same way an individual wouldn’t climb into a ring with a boxer without having at least put on gloves before. We should prepare ourselves for worship as least as well as we prepare ourselves for other things that don’t hold a portion of the weight eternally.

Work to both prepare yourself for worship as well as teaching your congregation to prepare for corporate worship. When we place specific value on something people handle it differently. Place value on your corporate worship.

  • Prepare through Prayer

This point may seem like a given, but when we get scattered and rushed it is typically the first to fly out the window. Part of our preparations for leading corporately needs to be specific prayer for our corporate gatherings. If we can make this a priority I guarantee you that it will help and encourage you and others in your congregation to keep your focus on the Savior King who alone has the power to save, heal and deliver all who call upon His name and who is worthy of all our worship and more!

We must cover our gatherings in prayer. Commit yourself to praying over your services. We can do nothing alone. Here are some prayer points that will get you started.

Pray for direction. Pray that we are receptive to the Spirit and willing to go against our own plans if called to. My Pastor has repeatedly said to me that Pentecost didn’t occur because it was placed or scheduled in the bulletin.

Pray that Christ be glorified. We must continually pray against any sense of pride that may develop within us. Our worship should be about Christ and for Christ. If He isn’t in it then we are just singing songs. All that we do needs to point to the Father.

Pray for change. We must petition the Father for the hearts of the people within our congregations. We can have great services, but if nothing changes then all we’ve done is provided false security. I challenge you to pray for conviction and repentance, it isn’t pretty… but it is necessary and will bring change.

Pray against the enemy. Satan wants nothing more than to make us as believer’s weak. A sense of comfort or idleness is a scary thing. Let’s pray against the works of the deceiver that can invade our gatherings and congregations. We serve a mighty God, a roaring lion that crushes the head of the serpent. Pray against the devil and his works constantly.

John 14:13 says,

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.


Hopefully through this non-exhaustive list we have all seen the importance of our preparations. Being prepared keeps us focused on what matters. When we’re spiritually prepared, we’re not as concerned about songs and arrangements (which are important), but the engagement of the congregation and the presence of God take the front seat.

When we begin to ignore the preparation of our heart, trivial matters tend to steal the show.

We also must remember that we have no right to come into God’s presence on our own. No amount of preparation that we can do is enough to make us fit, but we must be faithful to do our part!