There is something in us that desires the attention of others. As our children demonstrate when they cry out, “Daddy! Watch this!”, this craving starts at a very young age. As we get older, we might tell ourselves that we would rather fit in and not be noticed, but we never stop searching for the approval of others. This doesn’t go away when we serve in a ministry position and perhaps becomes more difficult to deal with the more visible your area of ministry becomes.
I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in a while the other day and he asked me, “Are you still performing at your church?” I winced inwardly (and hopefully not outwardly) at the word “performing,” but rather than getting into a deep discussion on why leading worship should not be “performing,” I simply replied that I was indeed still involved in the worship ministry. This brief exchange reminded me, however, of how a visible ministry position (be it preaching, singing on stage, teaching a class or something else), can be misunderstood by the one serving as well as the one being served. This happened to the Apostle Paul on more than one occasion. Some people even started trying to worship him instead of Jesus! (Acts 14:11-15; Acts 28:6)
It is a passage written by Paul that serves as a vision statement for me as I serve in the worship ministry:
“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” (2 Cor. 4:5-7)
This Scripture reminds me of four important truths as I lead others in worship:
- I Am Not the Star of the Show: I am not on stage seeking personal praise and attention. I certainly appreciate when someone says that they enjoyed the worship time or liked a particular song or appreciate my willingness to serve. But if I get caught up in that, I quickly forget that I am not there to proclaim myself, I am there to proclaim Jesus. I am a servant for Jesus’ sake – my place is to serve the congregation and to serve those who are on the ministry team with me. It must be Jesus Christ and His Lordship that is in the spotlight, not me.
- I Have One Job: Have you ever seen those pictures showing that someone failed miserably at what should have been a simple job? If you do a Google search for “You Had One Job,” you will end up wasting a lot of time laughing at pictures of things that didn’t quite work out like they were intended. But there is great freedom in knowing that my one job is to proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord. It’s easy sometimes to lose sight of that and get my eyes on whether people seem to be responding or whether they like me or lots of other silly questions. All I’m supposed to do is proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord to the best of my ability. He will take care of all the rest.
- I Am Being Used to Shine Christ’s Light: If you have ever been under a literal spotlight, you’ve experienced just how blinding it can be. Paul says that God shines a light into our hearts so that we can share that light with others. This “light” is the glory of God revealed in the person of Jesus. Regardless of where God has placed us to serve, we are there to be “the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14)
- I Am Just a Clay Jar: I just started reading a book by Mark Buchanan called “The Rest of God.” In the introduction to the book, he writes, “God made us from dust. We are never too far from our origins.” It’s clear God doesn’t use me in ministry because of any great value or talent that I bring to the role. He works through me to demonstrate clearly that the power belongs to Him and not to me. I’m just an “earthen vessel” who’s not worthy to be a container used by Him.
The more effective a person is in their particular ministry, the less they are noticed because those they are serving are focused more and more on the awesomeness of God! May that be my goal and my desire.