I think one of the best ways we can grow is when we are made uncomfortable by God. After leading worship for over two years at Pathways, (and in my last six months there, leading the adult services on a semi-regular basis) I got comfortable with the "job" of leading worship. Big mistake. I haven't led worship within the context of a church service in over two months. What I've come to realize in that amount of time is this: Leading worship is an incredible privilege that should never be taken lightly. There is a hole of sorts in my life and it's caused me to do something; worship simply for the sake of worshiping.
Not being in the position of "worship leader" has been really healthy for my relationship with God. I read an awesome article about worship in Biola Magazine that confirmed a lot of what I was feeling about worship. The "Woe is me" approach to worship mentioned in the article is one I've always tried to stick to. For example, who am I that I'm being entrusted with this amazing responsibility to lead others in worship? When we see ourselves in the light of almighty God, I don't think our honest reaction is always, "Glory to God, you are amazing, awesome and powerful!" (Although, it can be)
The response of worship I tend to lean towards has been, "You are incredible, God! Thank you, for not wiping me out with the amazing power that only You possess when I know I deserve it. Thank you! You are good, You are merciful!" It was refreshing to see someone else out there who didn't see a point in singing celebratory, happy worship songs all the time. While we have an infinite number of things to be happy, thankful and joy-filled over, we also have a great deal to tackle in grace, justice, mercy and our failures. Thanking God for all He does and continues to do for us, in the face of this is remarkable and worth singing about! However, we can't truly be thankful to God for what He's done until we understand the depths from which He's saved us.
The article also caused me to see a lot of attitude adjustments I need to make before I can fully be ready to lead again.
For starters, the mindset of thinking being a worship leader made me "somebody" was a complete joke. Leading worship doesn't make you more special, more worshipful or more capable of worship. If anything, it should make you more humble. Being a worship leader as I see it now, is an individual standing in front of a congregation, telling them and showing them that worship is the appropriate response to God. If I'm on stage singing and you're in the congregation, we are doing the exact same thing. God doesn't count my worship more worthy because I'm holding a guitar and singing into a microphone. It's okay to get excited when worshiping God. It's okay to cry when worshiping God, it's okay to shout, to dance, to act like a fool. Not having led worship in such a long period of time has made me want it more.
Another major one is the notion that incorporating hymns into the worship set in various forms (i.e. scripture reading, singing, speaking) is a great way to bring generations of young and old together. As a kid, I hated hymns. I thought they boring, slow and strictly for old people. I almost loved the separation my "cool rock worship songs" created in the congregation of young and old. Stupid kid. Ha ha. I've been attending a Baptist church quite a bit, here and they love their hymns. You know what? So do I.
I could go on and on and on about worship, since it's really been on my heart lately. What I've come to realize is this: leading worship is an incredible privilege that should never be taken lightly, or for granted. For now, I'm praying for a church to lead worship at, and loving every opportunity to play any part I can in a worship service.