The Why of Worship

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I believe that no matter who you are, your personality, age, disposition, preferences, circumstances or situation, worship is what you were made for.
Worship is the highest goal and noblest purpose of every created thing in the universe.
Worship produces the highest level of life satisfaction and reward possible.
There is no situation which cannot be redeemed through worship.
All things can and must be enjoyed as worship. The choice is worship or idolatry.

I’m reading a fascinating book by Simon Sinek about the power of why. He argues that it isn’t the thing you do that inspires people to act or to follow, it is the reason you do it — your belief, your value, your core motivating force that draws people to you.

It isn’t enough to just tell people what they should do, people need to know why. In business this principle is powerful: don’t just tell me you manufacture a nice car, tell me why I must have it. What will it say about me? Why will it change my life? Why has far more power to motivate that what.

So why worship? Why spend all your waking hours obsessing about one subject that most of the world seems to dismiss? I’m glad you asked.

You know what I love about my life? I get to live for the best cause imaginable. I believe that worship is the greatest central value of all of life, that all of reality revolves around the principle of worship. Everything exists for something, and that reason is worship. Things exist to tell us something about the One who made them. Worship is fundamental to existence, just as matter and protons and wavelengths are the nuts and bolts of the physical world.

All things worship, some by default and design, others by decision. Asteroids and ants worship by design. They were made to express the pleasure and greatness of God in their uniqueness, detail and magnitude (or lack thereof). The interesting thing about humans is that we worship by design and by decision. As the crowning glory of the creation of God, human beings express God’s incredible power as the Maker and Master of all life. The body and brain still baffle scientists with their capacity and capability to connect and conceive. But the human heart and will can choose, we can express our praise and worship to God through our choices, through all that we do and think.

I believe that when we are made alive in Christ and surrender our lives to putting God first, we step into the thing we were put on this earth to do: worship. How much time, effort and energy is spent trying to find “our purpose”? Here it is: put God first (worship).

You don’t have to be a good singer, a sappy poet, or a deep theologian to be a good worshiper. Worshipers put God first. Period. I believe that the experience of worship is surpassingly greater than any other experience. To worship is to be in the presence of God Almighty, the One who created me (and the universe) and receive his love, lay my burdens down and his feet and get peace, wisdom, insight and encouragement. Nothing compares to that. It can happen anywhere and at any time. It’s what I’m made for, and I’ll spend eternity doing it. We worship because it is right, but also because it is rewarding. I enjoy worship, and I enjoy everything in life more when everything is done as worship.

The worship experience can take many forms. For some, worship may be experienced best through song. For others, prayer or quiet meditation. The balanced ledger or the swish of the ball in the net strike a chord of the rightness of what God has made. The power and presence of God that I feel at times when I read his word are overwhelming. So it doesn’t matter if you are artsy, young, old, rich or poor. You were made for worship, you were made to put God first. You were made for a constant, mindful, thankful communion with God. The worship mandate isn’t a stifling command to somehow stop enjoying accounting or writing or flowers or whiskey. It is an invitation to see the hand of the Maker in all of life, to delight in him in all things.

So yes, I lead worship on Sundays in a church. I play guitar and lead rehearsals and go to meetings and write blogs. But that is what I do, not why. I love my life because worship is what we are all made for. I get to spend my time finding ways to express to others how everything in life is better when it is worship. It just so happens that I do this in a ministry context, but the why motivates an infinite number of whats and hows. Would you like to join me?

Worship and Leadership

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I have three passions in my life apart from my faith and family, summed up in the phrase that has become my life purpose mantra: Teaching worship leadership. 

I am a teacher because I am a learner. My personality makes me gravitate toward a constant influx of new information, researching and seeking to understand things that surround me or interest me. Because I love to learn, I love to teach. Teaching the things that I have learned not only helps me further absorb them, it gets me more excited about learning. I’ll admit this sometimes gets me into trouble. Not everyone likes learning the way I do, and not everyone would like me to be their teacher. Also, the phrase “nerd alert” comes to mind…

Worship has been a passion of mine since my early teens. A profound experience in prayer led me to pursuing a ministry path and ultimately career in worship leading, one that I plan to follow until I can’t anymore. At first I thought that a calling in worship meant that I’d constantly be in front of people with a guitar in my hands, but that has only been partially true. Education and experience has deepened (and widened) my understanding of what worship is. Worship is much broader than music, singing or a Sunday activity. When we see worship as a way of life, a perspective-orienting posture before God, it changes everything from our thinking, our work, our relationships and our priorities.

I owe the focus on leadership to some years spent in an incredibly rich leadership culture. My time on staff at 12Stone Church has made a tremendous impact on how I see my life and various roles, helping me to understand the importance of skilled, intentional leadership over myself and others under my care. Leadership skills are some of the most fundamentally important skills one can ever learn, and they have the power to change your life completely.

Lately I have been searching for ways to articulate the connection between worship and leadership, two of my biggest passions. At first it seemed incredibly difficult. What could Good to Great and Engaging With God possibly have in common? I thought, maybe I just have two things that I’m passionate about that are basically unrelated. It wouldn’t be the first time!

But more reflection has shown me I was wrong. There is, in fact, a very strong connection between worship and leadership if you take a closer look.

Worship is essentially about glory. God is glorious, THE only being in the universe whose essence and character are so magnificent we could spend eternity (literally) captivated by all he is. Even attempting to write a description of God’s glory seems feeble at best. In corporate worship, we gather as the people of God to celebrate and proclaim God’s glory in prayer, songs, preaching and proclaiming the scriptures, and by participating in the sacred acts of the Christian church (baptism and eucharist). Worship reenacts the Story of God’s creation, our fall into sin, God’s redemption, and re-creation of all things. These activities are both participation and proclamation that God is glorious, the Greatest and most Beautiful One of all.

Human beings were made for God’s glory (see 1 Cor. 10:31, Col. 3:17, CS. Lewis’ The Weight of Glory) and thus made for worship. It is a self-verifying truth that glory is of paramount importance to the human soul. Humans everywhere are drawn to the ocean, the mountains, spectacular sporting events and feats of human skill and achievement. Why? Glory. When we worship God, we experience his glory by experiencing him and experiencing what we were made for.

Leadership is essentially the right ordering of ourselves and our relationships. It is intentional stewardship of who we are and how we interact with the world around us. God has created a right order for our lives and for our relationships, made clear in the Bible. Leadership teaching (well, let’s say good leadership teaching) is the distillation of the principles of self-leadership and right relationships that God has designed.

This brings us to the connection point between worship and leadership: righteousnessRighteousness simply means “right-ness,” the proper order of things in the world. God sits on a throne of righteousness and justice (Ps. 89:14) because he makes things right and just. When I live my life to God’s glory, I am essentially living a righteous life, living the way that God intended me to live according to his design. He has designed me to behold his glory, and as I gather with his people and sing and pray and kneel, my eyes are opened. He has also designed me to be disciplined, to be honest, and to live in right relationship with others. If my life is meant to be lived to the glory of God, then my leadership of self and of others will be expressions of worship. Leadership as worship takes worship from the church building and puts it in my calendar and my conversations.

I love to be out in nature. There’s nothing quite like climbing to a higher altitude and looking out across the space below. There’s nothing quite like a sunset, a clear starry sky or the pounding surf of the ocean at high tide. These sights remind me that God is glorious and powerful and has made a world that is very good. In the same way, seeing a man or woman seeking to live life to God’s glory, working hard to make the best use of the time, talent and treasure they have been given, reminds me that God is glorious and his creation of humankind is very good. He has made humans to be the crowning glory of his creation, and we have the chance to display his glory when we live in righteousness.

“Let everything that has breath praise the LORD!”
Ps. 150:6

 

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