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: righteousness. Righteousness 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!”