One of the most interesting stories I have ever heard was born out of a congregation in Watford, England. Soul Survivor Church, struggling to find meaning in its musical outpouring at the time, chose to do something unbelievably brave. They decided to get rid of their system and band for a season, and gather together with just their voices. The hope was that by stripping everything away, the congregation would remember what the heart of worship truly was. By the end of this process, their worship pastor, Matt Redman (arguably the most influential worship songwriter of our generation), penned the lyrics of “The Heart Of Worship.” In this song, Matt states, “I’m coming back to the heart of worship and it is all about You, Jesus.”
My generation has grown up with the “worship celebrity.” Song leaders are sometimes celebrated as the catalyst by which we encounter the Lord in the most powerful way. I know when I have walked into a large church with thousands of people in attendance and millions of dollars being poured into the lights, sound equipment, and acoustics of the auditorium, I have been enthralled by the magnificence of the moment. Whenever the singer, with his beautiful vocal cadence, starts to sing in a low octave and then switches to the higher octave as the rest of the band builds a wall of beautiful sound, my heart gets more caught up in the person who is leading, the lights that are shining, and the sound waves hitting my ears rather than the God we are seeking and the purpose He has for us.
Seeing these things for so long, for years I have been more drawn to all the extra things that being a worship leader could give me, and not the blessing of being a worshiper. I have been distracted by earthly things that have stolen what my true purpose was, to know God and to serve others. I was focused more on being known than drawing people to know the love of the Creator.
This is still a constant battle for me, but over the past several months something has been stirring in my heart. I could hoard all the fame, attention, affection, and glory to myself, but at the end of the day, I was built for so much more. I was created not to be the star of a small town play, but an intricate part in the biggest story ever told and that begins by treating others as better than myself. So me trying to be some sort of “celebrity” (when in truth I am not even close to that) and getting people to serve me, is actually making me less of the person I was meant to be.
Jesus said in Matthew chapter 20, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you would be your slave. Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for the many.” This is a provocative statement. Think about this: the Creator of the universe, that deserves all the praise of every single thing created, served the created. We should be like Him. This should be our worship, and our anthem should be:
“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves... Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” -- Paul
rue worship is not singing a song. True worship is serving others. If we were to say our worship is “all about You, Jesus,” but never do what He says, are we truly worshiping Him?
My hope for us is that we would be begin to lead our congregations as servants first, and not as musicians, speakers, or teachers. That people would follow us because we served and loved them well, rather than because we have charisma or musical talent. That we would not be all about us, but that the way we serve would draw people closer to Jesus.