I’ve been on a journey. It’s been an interesting trip, over many different paths, changes in direction, and some difficult years. I started leading worship when I was still a teenager, but I certainly wasn’t a worshipper. I was polished, professional, talented, and driven. I was good on stage, planned a well-flowing service, and knew all the right language. But I was empty inside.
Years later and I’m still on a journey, however, this journey is very different from my initial trip. This adventure involves transparency, community, brokenness, grace, and…Jesus.
You’re probably asking, “What in the world is this guy talking about?” Well, let me share a few things that might help you understand better….
I was ISOLATED.
I believe isolation is the enemy’s number one tool to take down worship pastors, church leaders, and most believers. You see, when no one really knows us it’s easy to pretend to be something we aren’t. It’s easy to wear a mask that looks like a true worshipper, especially for those of us who grew up in church. I wore that mask well. As a matter of fact, I’d say I could have won awards for my mask.
And it worked...until it didn’t.
You see, there came a day when the mask had to come off – even though I didn’t necessarily want it to. There I was, sitting in a room of other guys who heard my whole story and got to see behind the mask...all the ugly details. They heard about the trauma I had experienced, the mistakes I made, the regret I felt...and you know what? They chose to love and accept me anyway. For the first time in my life, I knew what grace looked like and what it felt like to be fully loved and accepted…because I was fully known.
Worship Leader, isolation WILL kill you. The enemy wants you to think you’re the only one who thinks that, struggles with that, does that, and wants that. You’re not. You are not alone. Whatever that is in your life, there are many others dealing with the same thing. Please talk to someone. A friend, a colleague, a professional counselor – someone wise and worthy of your story. Use discretion and wisdom, it’s not necessary to post all the details on social media, but you need to talk to someone. Once it’s in the light it loses its might. Get it out there.
I had no COMMUNITY
I very intentionally lived in isolation. I was careful to craft my world in a way where I controlled the conversations, the interactions, and as many of the details as I could. I mean, there were a lot of people around all the time, but not real community.
And it worked...until it didn’t.
Once the mask came off I was amazed at how naturally genuine community became. The very things I thought would cause me to be separated and judged, caused people to be drawn to me, and me to them.
Maybe you need to pray and find 5-6 people, invite them to your house for dinner, set some rules about confidentiality, and share openly. Perhaps you need to drive across town and join a community group from another church. It could be you need to be in community with the other staff members at your own church. I don’t know what community looks like for you, but I know many pastors and worship leaders talk a lot about community, but rarely experience it. Don’t be afraid to be the one who initiates. I’m learning everyone around me is just as scared as I am, but we all need real community.
I lived in SHAME.
Shame is the enemy of grace. The devil wants to remind us of all the things we’ve done, the things that have happened to us, the things we are embarrassed by…but my God is not a God who wants us to walk in shame. My God is the “lifter of my head,” the “shield around me,” and “my glory” (Psalm 3:3). The God I serve says, “Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth, and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more” (Isaiah 54:4). My Bible says, “To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame” (Psalm 22:5).
Worship leader, you don’t have to live in shame. The God you sing about is filled with grace and forgiveness (2 Corinthians 12:9). The creator we declare from the stage also created you (Jeremiah 1:5). The grace we proclaim over our congregations applies to us as well (John 1:16).
I’m definitely on a journey. So far, it’s been a pretty good ride. There have been moments where I feared what was around the next corner. There are days when I worry about what turn to take next. There are intersections where the path is confusing. However, I know this to be true – I am called to walk in the light, live in community, and remember who God says I am. Let’s serve well, live in genuine community, walk in the light, and remember our calling. You are loved, called, and equipped!