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

Guard your heart for out of this, all the issues of life flow. We need to cultivate our relationship with God at the center of our lives because it affects everything we do, how we lead, and how we live a life of worship on and off stage.

Jesus’ Work on the Cross Inspires Our Worship

Worship was created to be simple. Our earliest parents, Adam and Eve, once walked in the Garden of Eden with God in the cool of the day. Then things changed. We chose to go our own way instead of God’s. Sin entered the world and we lost companionship with God and the authority he gave us to take care of his world. Later on in history, at just the right time, Jesus was born into our world, fully God and fully man, and knew that the only way to win us back would be to offer up a perfect sacrifice to atone for the sin that was now a part of every human being because of Adam and Eve’s choice. The sacrifice was himself. It was the only way this could happen and Jesus willingly went to the cross for us. The cross moves us from being God’s enemies and distant from Him to being God’s friends, having communion with Him once again, and regaining his authority over the enemy.

Romans 5:6-11 When we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners. Now, most people would not be willing to die for an upright person, though someone might perhaps be willing to die for a person who is especially good. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation. For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.

Because of this amazing truth, we focus on Jesus’s work on the cross as the central theme to our times of corporate worship. Jesus himself provided a way back into God’s presence and victory over sin and darkness. Now we can commune with Him through the person of the Holy Spirit. In everything we do, we want to point people to Jesus and his work on the cross.

Perhaps you’ve had a close encounter with death and then realized the gift that life truly is or maybe you’ve had a great debt that you couldn’t pay but received mercy and the debt was forgiven. When we encounter radical grace and mercy and don’t get what we deserve, our response is to give our life radically back out of gratitude. We want to see what we can do to serve, honor and bless this individual for their kindness and generosity to us. We see this in the story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her hair and anointed them with oil. 

Luke 7:47 I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.

It’s similar with our relationship with God. The main difference is that Jesus paid the highest price that we will never be able to repay. It’s an amazing gift and that’s why the Gospel of Jesus’ saving work is called the Good News. The only appropriate response to Jesus’ gift of salvation is to give all of ourselves — our life, hopes, dreams — to Him for his glory. All of this is what we call worship. Musical worship is an amazing gift that connects our hearts with God’s in praise and worship but we should remind ourselves that worship goes far beyond this and is much bigger than music. It’s a lifestyle. 

God Desires a Whole-life Expression of Worship

Passionate worship is where experience meets knowledge. We can know a lot about someone but unless we experience that person in our presence, it misses the mark. Think about having a relationship with someone you love where you read all about that person — their greatest triumphs, biggest defeats, most challenging fears, and biggest dreams. Now imagine having all this information but choosing to never spend time with this person because you felt you had all the information you needed. That would be crazy! The goal of the information you had would be to move you closer to relationship and experience with that person. This is what God desires for us and what Jesus died to give us! We must constantly make it a goal to get to know God relationally and experientially. Whenever we have worship which is devoid of a heart connection, we inevitably end up practicing religion, not relationship. God wants a relationship with us!

Matthew 15:8-9 These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.

As we begin to let our experiential relationship with God transform us, we begin to understand that our whole life is a response of worship to Him. How we treat our spouse and our kids, how we carry ourselves at work, how we treat the cashier at the store — all these are expressions of a life which honors God and displays the light of His presence. Everything in our lives either helps us or hinders us in our worship of God. Nothing is neutral. In a similar way that a gardener would prune his garden and take care of the weeds in order to let the beautiful vegetation flourish, so we must also be careful to tend our lives so that we are a clean vessel for God’s use and not be crowded out by sin. We need to guard our hearts. As we continue this process of tending our hearts in relationship with God, we are actually leading ourselves in a life of worship. This is essential before ever leading someone else in worship. 

Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Also consider this: how do you respond to God when you don’t feel like worshipping? The Bible describes a “sacrifice of praise” and very often we are put in a place where it feels like offering a sacrifice in order to simply praise God. It’s in those moments where everything seems to be going wrong that when we choose to worship God anyway, we offer the truest most genuine form of worship we can. God doesn’t desire flashy worship. He desires authentic worship. 

Psalm 51:7 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Of course, God desires us to be full of life, healed and whole and not broken, but he loves seeing a humble heart — one that recognizes its own weakness apart from Him and total reliance upon Him. When we recognize our great need for God and dependence upon Him and ask for His help, we will find Him at work and present in our lives.

Maximize Your Gifts for a Full Return

If you’re on a worship team, chances are high that you’ve been given the gift of music. The Bible makes it clear that when we’re given a gift, it’s for the benefit of the church — to build it up and strengthen it. 

1 Peter 4:10 God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.

One of the best ways to honor God with the gifts he’s given you is to develop your gifts. In Matthew 25, Jesus tell a story of three servants who each did something different with some money they had been given. The first two servants doubled their money in the investments but the final servant hid his in the ground and did nothing with it. In the end, it was the servant who hid his money out of fear of losing it whom the master rebuked. God is pleased when we both invest our gift for his glory and also enjoy it!

As we grow in our giftings and abilities, we should remind ourselves that we have the potential to become proud, which is a common downfall of growing in skill. We should remind ourselves that we are here to build God’s kingdom and not our own. When we make ourselves look good and are prideful, we inevitably fall and make fools of ourselves.

Luke 18:14 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Practically speaking, we should invest time and energy into practicing the musical gifts we’ve been given. Regular proportionate time given is the best way to go. Think of it similar to financial investment. If you give consistently to your retirement or stocks, over time it will yield much higher interest than if you were only to give a few times in your life. We want to be consistently growing in our gifts through regular, dedicated practice.  

As we seek to maximize our gifts in this life, we are not only embarking on the adventure of being who God created us to be and doing what God has created us to do; we are also helping build God’s kingdom in the way that He wants to build it. As we use our gifts, we are building up the body of Christ in an amazing way and having an eternal impact on the world around us. This is a huge privilege and responsibility! Let’s be like the faithful servants in Matthew 25, constantly cultivating the talents entrusted to us, all for God’s glory.

Article for this topic by Ashton Abbott.

Key Points:

  • Passionately pursuing God starts with a revelation of who Jesus is and his work on the cross.
  • We respond with hearts of gratitude and pouring out our praise to God in worship.
  • This response ultimately takes the form of a life of passionate worship. 
  • Maximizing our gifts is clear representation of a life of worship and good stewardship of what God has given us.

Quote This:

Proverbs 4:23 Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Talk About It
  1. What is your initial reaction to this topic? What jumped out at you?
  2. How well would you say you understand who Jesus is and what he did on the cross? Is it personal and relational or more distant?
  3. When you think about what Jesus did on the cross for you, what is your response? 
  4. What does guarding your heart look like for you? Why do you think this is important in worship leadership?
  5. How is maximizing your gifts and a life of worship connected? How have you done with this up till this point?
  6. Write a personal action step based on this conversation.

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