Whether you’re a volunteer or employee, leading small services or managing multiple large teams, as a worship leader you occupy a strategic spiritual position in the life of the church. God has hand-picked you, placed you geographically and relationally right where he wants you to lead your congregation as they worship and also to proclaim His glory, power and victory over them.
The Unseen Reality
Each congregant brings dozens of issues through the doorways of the church each week: family and marital struggles, finances, illnesses, work problems, doubts and countless others concerns. As they draw close to God through worship, He ministers His divine, restorative life to them in a way which is unique to the congregational setting. But there’s also something else going on: their worship also repels the enemy. As your congregation participates with their voices and hearts, they’re saying, “yes” to God and “no” to the enemy, “yes” to truth and “no” to lies. This is WORSHIP WARFARE. Our collective agreement with God concerning His Word and His worthiness is one way to activate James 4:7 which says “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.”
You’ve probably heard congregants express how uplifted, hopeful and at peace they are after being in the worship service. That’s God’s Presence in action. As a worship leader, you of course need the musical and administrative skills to do your job well, but being on the spiritual front lines is central to your role. As you go through your work week, always remember that God is doing life-changing, miraculous things through you. But also remember that this makes you a target!
Preparedness = Winning
Your first line of defense is to be alert. Stay conscious of the reality of warfare. It’s easy to get absorbed in the tasks of your job, but given your strategic assignment, you’ll likely be hit with some of the initial volleys released by the enemy. You don’t have to be overly-focused on him, but don’t be taken by surprise either. As C.S. Lewis wrote in his classic book, The Screwtape Letters, “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.” So, first and foremost, trust that God is protecting you, but also prepare for the inevitable temptations and disruptions and remind your team to do the same. Do the inner spiritual work. If you’re conscious that you have an enemy with a plan, you won’t be caught off guard and can diffuse battles before they begin.
More Ways to Stay Battle-Ready
Stand against the enemy through regular prayer and Scripture meditation both alone and with your team.
Strengthen yourself through private praise and worship.
Think on these things! “Whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, and lovely…” (Phil 4:8) and “Take every thought captive” (2 Cor 10:5) is a daily practice. Notice negative thoughts like fear or criticism and replace them with God’s truth in the situation.
Listen for God’s voice and be sensitive to His leading as you move through your days. He can help you avoid traps set for you by the enemy. He declared that His sheep know His voice!
Guard your heart. The enemy will try to get entrance through even a tiny unguarded hole in your heart where sin can rush in and destroy you with a flood.
Repair the chinks in your armor through spiritual practices such as self discipline, forgiveness, humility, patience and love.
Activate your faith that God inhabits the praises of His people and is working His will through worship.
Submit to God’s victory. This is a glorious paradox. Be active but be submissive, be assertive but don’t strive, make every effort to enter rest. It seems contradictory but, in God’s way, it’s about discerning the Holy Spirit’s leading in any given moment. Thank God, the battle does not rest on your shoulders alone. (It just feels like it sometimes.) Remember, the battle is the Lord’s.
Believe. Our MAIN job is to believe! (John 6:29) When you’re motivated to act, do it in the Lord’s strength, not your own. Allow the Holy Spirit to see you through the onslaught of temptation. He will!
The Daily Slog or a Vision of Victory?
Some days being a worship leader may just feel like a job. And like most people, you’ve got a lot on your plate besides your work: spouse, family, friends, co-workers, housework, errands, missions, wounds, barriers, baggage, conflicts, dreams, goals, and everything in between. But realize that in the spiritual realm, around you and within you, God is bringing about His purposes. Not just for His grand, eternal plan, but also within this temporal realm in your own life and the lives around you. You can say, “yes” to it, accept it, embrace it, or you can minimize it, reduce it to your own understanding and miss what God is doing within you and through you. Proverbs 3:5-6 exhorts us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” And 2 Cor. 5:7 reminds us, “For we live by faith, not by sight.” It’s a clear choice.
Onward and Upward
So this year, as you plan your sets, schedule your team, direct your rehearsals and lead services, as you do both the exciting things and the seemingly mundane tasks that comprise the job description of a contemporary worship leader, know this: you are a warrior on an eternally important battlefield. But also know even more deeply that your powerful and loving Commander is always watching out for you and guiding you to victory!
Consider the Word
1 John 3:8
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
1 John 4:4
You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.