Sometimes I don’t feel it. The music. The Spirit. The point. The promise. Any of it.
Some weeks, if I were in the crowd, I’d probably sit down and not sing at all. Or I’d go get coffee in the lobby or take a long time washing my hands in the bathroom.
Sometimes I walk on stage empty. I move my mouth to the microphone knowing for the next few songs my body will put forth motion and melody that my mind is not mesmerized by.
But these days—truth is—those days are rare.
Part of why I rarely lead on empty is because I love my church. And I mean that, I really love my church.
I used to travel and lead worship at events and such. It’s how I paid my phone bill and taco bell bill for years. And I learned, no doubt, there are wonderful places to have the honor of leading worship, but honestly, from where I sit now, the best of them all is at Resonate Church at 5pm in Pullman and 7:15 in Moscow.
Resonate is raw. We have skeptics and cynics and charismatics. We have the promise and the prodigal, the steadfastly mature and passionately immature. When our tunes hit the air on a Sunday night I know their landing on the ears of people I’m doing life with. I’m singing with my family. My big dysfunctional Jesus chasing family.
I think why I’m not empty anymore is because I’m invested. I believe what I’m doing—both on and off stage—is eternal work. To say it simply: I’m convinced of the mission. And staying full is easy when mission fills your tank.
Also, my band consists of my friends. We don’t use musicians. We try to give to them, not get from them. I’m loyal to my band. I like them. Really like them. They know my struggles and shortcomings and they know when I’m faking and when I’m not. And I know, every time we get up to lead, our stage is filled with musical warriors who use their gifting not only to worship Jesus but also to push back darkness.
The musicians I lead with are spiritual giants. They’d never tell you this, but it’s true. I trust them implicitly. And I know they deeply care about the mission of the church and the call of Jesus on their lives.
These things are helpful. Loving your church, your mission and your band. But, nonetheless, sometimes, as worship leaders, you still lead on empty.
I think it’s okay, on occasion, to lead on empty. I don’t think you have to make a big fuss and “quit the band for a season” to “get your life right”. Now, if you’re in flagrant habitual sin and you need to repent and reconcile, then do it, take a week off (a month off), pray with your friends, your pastor, and figure it out.
But if you’re dry—faithfully spiritual empty—don’t quit, stay true to the relationship with Jesus, because in any secure relationship, seasons come and go, but the relationship doesn’t.
I recently asked a band member how they were doing with Jesus and they said, “It’s hard. I pray and read the bible everyday but I haven’t heard from God in a while.”
I said, “Isn’t it great. At least you’re getting nothing. Keep being faithful.”
Throughout the conversation what I was saying was: At least you’re still in and your relationship with God isn’t based on what you get, but rather who you are.
So, worship leaders: Lead on empty. But stay faithful. Getting nothing for a while? That’s fine. But don’t forsake the relationship because of the season. It’s in the driest desert where the rain is most desperately asked for. And, truth is, every week in worship, we should be asking God to bring the rain.