I recently attended a worship concert of a highly acclaimed artist. The concert started late in the evening and I had an early schedule the next day, so I ended up leaving after about 45 minutes. During the drive home, I wondered why I hadnít been ďcapturedĒ into worship while I was there. After all, here was an internationally recognized worship leader, who is also very skilled as a musician and vocalist. I went with the intent of worshiping my heart out, but left with much less than I had expected. As I pondered what had happened, or rather what didnít happen, I came to the conclusion that leading worship builds on three essential elements that form a triad chord: perspiration, inspiration, and anointing.
Perspiration is the hard work that goes into being a skilled musician (Ps 33:3), a prepared minister, a Godly leader, and a devoted follower of Jesus Christ. It has to do with maintaining your spiritual health through daily devotions and Bible study (2 Tim 2:15), fellowship (Heb 10:25) and spending time alone with God where the focus is on worshipping God and not on developing skills or a new sound. It also has to do with maintaining a spiritual environment in the home and proper Godly relationships with your family members. Perspiration includes building relationships with your congregation and striving to represent Christ to everyone you come in contact with. Perspiration is maintaining a humble attitude and a contrite spirit. This hard work prepares you for the next element, inspiration.
Inspiration is the spiritual work of getting a hold of Godís vision for the time you are going to be leading worship. It is not gathering a list of the todayís top seven or eight songs and arranging them from fast to slow. It is learning what God wishes to communicate to His people so they will reciprocate back to Him in worship. It is learning what God wants for the movement of worship for that particular time. Inspiration comes when you connect Godís goals and the needs of your congregation through divine strategies. God wants more than a song service; He wants more that a Sunday morning prayer; He wants more than parking attendants, bulletins, and pastoral greetings, and even more than a great sermon. He wants and deserves complete control. He will inspire you when you give your all to Him. If you are a songwriter, ask God to give you lyrics and melodies that reach through the mind of the worshipper to their heart, allowing the message to then catalyze worship to God. If you are a musician, your inspired playing will command spirits just like when David played before Saul and drove out the spirit that tormented him (1 Sam 16:33).
Anointing flees from the works and agencies of man. You wonít find it in institutions, religious icons, a compact disk, or even an article on worship. It cannot be manipulated or contrived. It is not dependant on your theology, credentials or your experience and skill. Anointing comes not by strength, nor by power, but by Godís Spirit (Zech 6:4). Anointing is the display of Godís sovereign power and approval within the environment of His obedient people (2 Chron 5:14). We all know Godís anointing. It compels us to grow in love and maturity in Christ, it is arresting, it takes your breath away, your mouth dries up, your eyes water, your heart pulses beats of love to God throughout your entire body, and your knees weaken. In Godís anointing, you tremble at the power and presence of God. Anointing is where the imperishable touches the perishable, the perfect touches the imperfect, and the infinite touches the finite. Anointing is the momentary presence of Godís kingdom touching earth. Our plans cannot command Godís anointing; all we can do is prepare for Godís anointing because it completely overwhelms our abilities. Anointing is the expectation of every service. Letís do everything we can in preparation to faithfully anticipate Godís anointing and pray, pray hard for it.
Oh God, help us to be faithful stewards of everything youíve given us; of our relationship with you, of our families and how we spend our time, and of the worship skills that you implanted. Search us and know our anxious thoughts, reveal anything that is displeasing to You. Forgive us of our pride. Give us ears to hear, a mind to understand, and a heart that senses Your direction for next weekís worship service. Help us, Lord, to hear Your still small voice. And Lord, while we commit our hearts and souls to serve Your purposes, it means absolutely nothing if You wonít be there with us the next time we lead. Therefore, Lord of all things, send Your Holy Spirit before us to prepare the way.