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In this article we are going to look at some battles between good and bad habits that you will have to face as a worship leader. While every worship leader has certain strengths and weaknesses, there are some fundamental habits that every person leading worship should possess. Before you begin going through this, understand that we are all human and make mistakes. Don’t get down on yourself if you are guilty of some bad habits, but instead look at it as an opportunity to grow as a worship leader. Let’s get started.

Points people to themselves vs. Points people to Jesus

One of the main jobs of a worship leader is to point people’s attention to Jesus, and to get the attention off of themselves.

John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

This doesn’t mean that the leader should go and hide in a dark room when leading, or even that they should just stand there perfectly still. It means that they should be as transparent as possible while still ushering people’s gaze to Jesus through well-placed words and engagement.

Focusing on music vs. Focusing on worship

Not that you shouldn’t focus on the musical aspects of the songs, because you should, but even more you should focus on how the song is going to be used to lead others in worship. Worship leaders are more concerned with how people will worship rather than how well they play the song. Trust God that He will work, even if the song doesn’t go perfectly. How well you play the songs doesn’t always dictate how much people will worship.

Thinking inward vs. Thinking outward

It is bad to only focus only on how you are doing and neglect how your band and congregation are doing. This inward thinking can totally separate worship team and congregation, and it can even separate the leader from the team. If the leader is up there in their own little world, that won’t draw many people into worship.

Philippians 2:4 (NLT) Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.

Remember that worship leading is vertical, but it is also horizontal. This means that congregational worship is first about God, but it is also about bringing others along in the journey.

“Worshiping” on the stage vs. Worshiping on and off the stage

If you are only worshiping on the stage, you are not really worshiping. Some leaders are very good at going through the motions of “true” worship on the stage, but when the music is done, they go and live however they want.

Romans 12:1 (NLT) …I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you.

As a worship leader, or a Christian for that matter, it is important to live your whole life in worship to God. Only then will you truly be able to worship from the stage.

Assuming vs. Teaching

As a worship leader, you should never assume that everyone on your team and everyone in your congregation always knows what is going on. You have new people at your church every single week, so don’t neglect them. This means that you may have to make your welcome a little longer (while still being clear, concise, and compelling), explain a lyric, or talk from the stage more. The more clarity the better. Doing this will also benefit the regulars, because the more they hear it, the more solidified it will be in their minds.

Demanding vs. Encouraging

It is not good to demand of your team or your congregation. If it doesn’t go exactly how you want it to go or how you pictured it should go, it can be easy to get upset and begin to become impatient.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NLT) So encourage each other and build each other up…

A good worship leader is constantly encouraging their team during the rehearsal and and their congregation during the service. Things probably won’t go exactly how you want them to go, and that is okay. Understand that it is always God’s job to move people, not yours.

Relying on yourself vs. Depending on the Holy Spirit

A worship leader needs to realize that they are simply a tool that is being used to help bring more focus on God. This should lead to a heart of humility and submission. If you think that you are the reason that people are experiencing and worshiping God, you need to check your heart and your motives. You are in the position you are in because God has put you there.

Colossians 1:29 (NLT) That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.

Prioritizing ability vs. Prioritizing heart

Caring more about the technical ability of a person on your team more than caring about their heart can greatly damage your team. Again, not to say that ability isn’t important, but when it becomes more important than the heart, you need have to have a perspective change. God cares much more about our hearts than He does our skill level. We should do the same.

1 Samuel 16:7 (NLT) The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

There to perform vs. There to serve

This may be the most important point on this list, because if you don’t understand this, you probably won’t understand anything else. To put it simply: Being on a worship team is not the same thing as being in a rock band. As a worship leader, you have to constantly remind yourself that you are a servant of God and others. This will play out in how you submit to leadership, how you interact with your team members, and how you present yourself to the congregation.

Ephesians 5:21 (NIV) Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Invite someone to summarize the topic.
  2. What is your initial reaction to this article? Do you disagree with any of it? What jumped out at you?
  3. Name some ways that a leader can draw attention to themselves. Which of these are avoidable and which are unavoidable? Explain.
  4. How would you explain the relationship between ability and heart? Do you agree that the heart is more important than ability? Why or why not?
  5. What does it look like to rely on the Holy Spirit and not on yourself?
  6. If you had to rank these points in order of importance, what would your list look like? Why?
  7. Which of these points apply to not only the leader, but to everyone on the worship team? Explain.
  8. If someone were to approach you and gently and lovingly call you out on one or more of these bad habits, what would your response be? Based on your ordering, what one would be the most difficult to change? Why?
  9. Think of at least one point that you feel could be added to this list?
  10. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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