So you’re going to be a worship leader

So you’re going to be a worship leader

Why are you a worship leader?

You are the worship leader in your fellowship. How did you come to this role?

  • You’re the only person in your fellowship that can carry a tune.
  • You’re the pastor’s wife and that’s what pastor’s wives do.
  • You were seduced away from another fellowship by a generous salary and good health care package.
  • Your pastor told you to do it.
  • You came to this from a smaller fellowship because this is a good stepping stone to bigger things.
  • It’s a great way to meet girls/boys/get dates.
  • You beat out a lot of other wannabe worship leaders in your fellowship.

However you came to this role – and one or more of these things may be true of you- you have got to know in your heart that it was God pulling the strings behind the circumstances or you will not have confidence in His call on your life. God does not hire people, He calls them. He gives gifts to them and expects them to use those gifts to please Him and bless His people.

If you were hired, you can be fired. If you were called, you follow Jesus and do as He commands. You listen for His voice, learn to recognize His voice and trust Him with the circumstances of your life. Jesus said of us that we are His sheep and no man is able to pluck us out of His hand. Knowing that God called you to a certain responsibility will give you great confidence, and that confidence will keep you humble, open-hearted and filled with joy.

It was the summer of 1977. I was in my second year of speaking to the teens at a series of family camps that spanned the West Coast from California to Canada. In one of the camps, another young minister came alongside to help me. I was glad for it. I was way too busy and involved. Little by little, however, he positioned himself to take over my spot. He was trying to suck up to the leadership of the camp, highlighting what things he was doing with the kids. He was also secretly taking some of the kids aside for “deeper” teachings. When I found out about it all, I was surprised, disappointed and intimidated. He was a good speaker and a charismatic personality. Then I got angry. I was ready to fight. He was wrong, I was right, I would win. I was NOT going to take this lying down. They hired ME for the job, NOT him!

Then God spoke to my heart. I was reading in John 13 about Jesus washing His disciples feet. It says that Jesus, knowing that He had come from the Father and was returning to the Father, humbled Himself to this task. God showed me in this passage that Jesus’ place before God was secure. There was no power that could disturb that relationship. Therefore, Jesus was free- on the night before His death!- to be a servant. Humbling Himself was based on His knowledge of who He was. In a related passage in Philippians, Paul says that Jesus, being equal with God, did not consider that as something to be grasped. In other words, He didn’t need to prove who He was or seek to protect it. It is the same for you. If you know that God called you, equipped you and assigned you to the task of leading worship in your fellowship, there is no power that can act successfully against His will. If someone tries to usurp your position, their fight is with God, not you.

So, I went to the leadership of the camps and said that I would be happy to step aside if they wanted someone else to lead the youth meetings. I knew that God had a place for me. If this wasn’t it, I didn’t want to be here. If this was it, God would see me through. Funnily enough, they knew nothing about the struggle and had no inclination whatsoever to send me packing.

If you do not already have an assurance in your own spirit that God has called you and placed you where He wants you, I encourage you to stop everything and seek God in prayer. That assurance will give you confidence, and that confidence will give power to your worship leading. It will also allow you to be humble, teachable and kind without being intimidated. Too many people assume authority and wield it like a hammer. Despots!

God’s order is upside down. When He calls you to a position, it is to be a servant. Jesus, our savior and leader, is a servant. If you want to be great in God’s order, learn to be the servant of all. You, the worship leader, are called by God to be the servant of your pastor, your worship team and the congregation. Your position is not a shield against criticism. Rather, your confidence in God’s call gives you an open heart, willing to receive criticism, instruction and rebuke. None of this can change God’s call on you! It can only help you to grow into His image.

My emotions are easily swayed. I can go from confidence to despair in a matter of moments. As a result, this truth has been one I have needed to remind myself of many times over the years. There have been times when I was spent from travel, ministry and overwhelming responsibilities. Someone would make a negative comment, however slight, and I would carry it in my heart for days. Another minister/singer/songwriter/worship leader would get attention I felt that I deserved equally, and it would send me into a tailspin. Someone would make a constructive- or not so constructive- comment and I would wonder whether I had failed one too many times and God was through with me.

There were many times when another, more talented person came on the scene with a bright smile, whiter-than-white teeth, an engaging personality, youthful energy, a strong hairline and great songs. I would be intimidated and wonder if I was a)too old, b) too bald, c)too ugly, d)not talented enough, e)teeth too yellow, f)sour personality, g)not very spiritual, h)all the above. I have had to continually remind myself that God looks on the heart and is very reluctant to discard a person’s ministry. He is slow to anger, abounding in mercy!

You will probably have occasion to remind yourself of these things, too. If you have no sense of God’s calling, it will be difficult to encourage your own soul. You simply must know that God called you to this specifically and personally. If you do not, the enemy of your soul will surely visit you and whisper doubts in your ear. He will visit you anyway. Your best defense is to run into the shelter of God, our strong tower.

Having that confidence before God will prepare you to lead as Jesus leads- kindly, humbly and joyfully. It will help you in choosing what songs to sing, how to arrange and present them, how to serve your congregation and your pastor. We are people under authority. We are not lone crusaders. God does not intend that your relationship with your pastor, worship team or congregation should be adversarial. It’s not you against them. It’s you serving them. Being continually locked in a struggle- over styles, volume, etc.- will wear you AND the people around you down. It is not God’s will. Be their servant.

Confidence is contagious. It is communicated through verbal and non-verbal means. So is the lack of confidence. Be sure that confidence in your call is the strong foundation on which all other confidences are built.

Jesus concludes His foot washing in John 13 with these words. “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed IF YOU DO THEM.” It is not enough to know that what I say here is true. You must DO them to be blessed.

This article originally appeared in Christian Musician magazine. Bob Kilpatrick wrote the classic worship choruses “In My Life, Lord, Be Glorified” and “Here Am I (Send Me To The Nations)”, has a daily devotional on the KLove radio network and has a new book coming out with Zondervan in 2010. His website is at

Other articles written by Bob Kilpatrick:

Writing great melodies

How to write a really good worship song

How to write a really mediocre worship song

Sound Man. Church Hero.

What you need to run church sound – free survival guide handbook

Advice for travellers