Watch the video above and talk about it with your group or mentor. Learn more.

If we serve from a place of what we get out of it, we will serve with the wrong motives, possibly burn out, and not really be serving anyone at all but ourselves.


Healthy Identity Starts With Knowing God’s Identity

One of the most common things with worship leaders, musicians, and artists is the desire to be understood and appreciated for their art. If we are not careful, however, this can turn into a search for identity only God can provide. In order to lead worship effectively and with the right motives, we should look no further than the cross. The fact that the God of the universe would send his only son to take our place on the cross and die for our sins reveals God’s great love for us and give us great worth and value. We are valuable to God because he says we are, not because of what we’ve done or what anyone else has said. When we begin to see how perfect He is and how imperfect we are, we begin to realize the immense value of Christ’s work on the cross for us. We trade our sins for his righteousness and all our baggage for his royal inheritance. There’s no better trade! 

2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

One of the greatest privileges we have as worship leaders is to help others accurately see who God the Father truly is, as we are led by the promptings of the Holy Spirit to testify about Him. He is the most gracious, loving, and kind father and longs to reveal himself to us. 

Isaiah 30:18 (NIV) Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!

When we are led by God’s spirit to testify to the truth of who God is, we are able to begin the journey of leading people to see who God really is and what he has really done for us. Again, if we are to take others on this journey, we must be on it ourselves. We need to be consistently spending time with God in His word, in prayer and engaging in our own times of worship. As we see Him more clearly for who he is, we see ourselves more clearly and we are able to lead from a place of fullness and experience, truly knowing who He is. That is our call as worship team leaders and members.

Lead From a Place of Wholeness

When people serve for the wrong reasons, they look for attention or praise for what they have done and look to be fulfilled through that affirmation. What God desires for us is that we serve out of a place of wholeness in an identity rooted in Christ and that we help others in the same journey. We do not serve to be accepted. We are accepted and so we serve. When we take needs arising from questions of our identity into worship ministry, we essentially are asking people to conditionally love and accept us based on how well we do in leading worship. Instead, we should remind ourselves of our acceptance in Christ and bring that assurance and security to leading others. It will put them at ease. 

John 1:12 But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.

It can be challenging leading musical worship on stage because in our western culture, being up front on stage usually equates a performance which will be evaluated. In worship ministry it should be just the opposite. We bring our best before God in gratitude for what Jesus has done for us on the cross and from of a place of wholeness. We respond in worship, leading others to the same place of gratitude and revelation of Christ’s work for us. We are worshipping with excellence rather than in perfectionism. Excellence is about doing the best with what God has given us (remember the parable of the talents). Perfection is about doing everything without a single mistake. Perfectionism is about performance while worship is about excellence. All God asks of you is to do the best with what He has given you and continually grow in your gifts.

Redirect Praise Offered to You

Psalm 115:1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.

It happens all the time. You’ve just led a powerful time of worship and when you get off the stage, people tell you how great you sang, how well you played the guitar, or how skillful you were on the drums. Whatever the case, people’s compliments can present a quick and dangerous path to pride. The Bible is clear that pride goes before destruction and we must constantly remind ourselves of this. We see this example with Satan as he began to desire the worship given to God and resulted in being expelled from Heaven. 

There is a simple strategy used to stay clear of pride: every time praise is offered you, give it back to God. We need to make sure that praise stays on the only one worthy of it: God. It is very healthy (and actually best) when you accept a compliment graciously but then include how you are grateful it is being used to honor and worship God. This type of reply honors God with the gift he’s given you and also puts the focus back on him being worthy of all our praise. Do not think, though, that redirecting praise to God means you need to play your instrument mildly or sing weakly. It is totally possible to be humble and confident at the same time. Enjoy leading worship and be expressive with your praise! People will not only see you pointing the praise to God but will also see his work in you. In fact, sometimes you will be the only representation of Jesus someone might see at a service, so make sure to reflect his contagious life! 

Pastor People Effectively in Embracing Healthy Identity 

A big part of helping others to discover God’s identity and their identity is in effectively pastoring people. Pastoring is simply the practice of helping guide people in a way that they will grow spiritually in their walk with God. Pastoring includes mentoring, encouraging, praying for, and living life with others in a way which you help guide them spiritually. On the worship team, lyrical clarity and sound theology are two of the best tools we have as worship leaders to pastor people in remembering who God is and who we are. The words that are being sung during a church service are much more than just words — they are lyrics that put language to people’s faith and influence how they see God and themselves. When we are intentional with our lyrics, both in choosing and writing songs for our church and making sure what they are saying are true and helpful about God, we maximize our positive influence on people’s lives in a corporate worship service and help them understand God’s identity and their identity more fully.

Another aspect of pastoring people well is to think from a visitor’s perspective of how the service might look and to make sure what we do what we can to make it understandable. Oftentimes, we can get caught up in our own expressions of worship to God and forget that we have a responsibility to lead others, oftentimes those who do not yet know God, in a way where they are more likely to follow. It probably sounds obvious (and perhaps a bit harsh), but if no one is following you, then you probably aren’t leading as well as you could be. To lead people well, we first have to go where they are and meet them where they’re at in order to lead them to where God wants them to go. In other words, we need to make sure that we are communicating clearly what is happening in a worship service at potentially confusing times so that people will follow us. Paul makes it clear in 1 Corinthians 14 that our primary leadership role in building up the church is through the strengthening, encouraging, and comforting of its people through the power of the Holy Spirit. He goes on to say that if we are focused on activities that bring confusion but only build us up personally, we aren’t actually doing what’s best for the church body. Therefore, on the worship teams, we want to bring a culture of encouragement as well as clarity.

For instrumentalists, we can help create this type of culture by playing the instrumental parts designated for us in the song recording or by our leader. We don’t want to create our own moments we think sound good but may solely benefit only us and lose others along the way. For those singing and leading the congregation vocally in worship, we can do this by bringing short teaching moments for a new song or with a lyric needing explanation. If we are leading a song, we can stick to the melody line of the song and not move to harmony since it will likely confuse people. No matter what your position on the worship team, you are an important part of pastoring the people in your church to worship God, understand who He is, and who they are in relationship to Him. 

All of these pastoring techniques help us to continually remind people of who God is and who we are. We must never make the techniques more important than God or people but without them, we run the risk of being ineffective at leading. People are priority on God’s heart and so we use these principles as tools to help as many people as possible during our times of worship in order to understand God’s identity and their identity. 

Article for this topic by Ashton Abbott.

Key Points:

  • Our Identity starts with understanding God’s identity.
  • We begin leading worship fully accepted and confident in Christ.
  • We give back to God the praise that could potentially be offered to us.
  • We reinforce God’s identity and the people’s identity in Christ through effectively pastoring them with sound theology, lyrical clarity, and understandable worship.

Quote This:

Psalm 115:1 Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name goes all the glory for your unfailing love and faithfulness.

Talk About It
  1. What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
  2. How well would you say you know yourself? How does that understanding line up with who God says you are in relationship to his work on the cross?
  3. If you were honest, would you say you were looking to serve in order to give or in order to get something from it? How might this help or hurt you in the long run?
  4. What is excellence and what are the differences between it and perfectionism? Why is it important to know the difference?
  5. How humble are you? (This is a trick question!) In all seriousness, how do you handle the praise of other people and how is it an opportunity for God’s glory?
  6. What is pastoring and why is it important in worship ministry?
  7. What does it mean practically to strengthen, encourage, and comfort others through the power of the Holy Spirit?
  8. What is lyrical clarity and why is it important in pastoring people in worship ministry?
  9. What is sound theology and why is it important in pastoring people in worship ministry?
  10. Would you say that people follow you? What would help you be a better leader in worship ministry?
  11. Why is making worship understandable to others important? Have you ever been in a church service where you didn’t know what was going on?
  12. How can you personally help make the worship experience understandable to those you lead?
  13. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

This is part of the Take Your Worship Leading To The Next Level series.