Worship leading is a dangerous task. Concerning the musical side of worship gatherings, churches and ministries assemble teams with a unique charge:
Worship teams are the only type of musical producers in the world who are expected to give a quality offering without desiring a commending response.
In every other setting in life, musical presentations are always meant for the applause of those listening. Whether it is your child’s piano recital, the community chorale, the symphonic orchestra, or the latest popular band, all of these musical offerings are meant to gather fans, support, and ovation.
In worship, we commission a team of quality musicians to stand upon a physical platform and yet expect them not to slide onto a mental platform.
The challenge is great, the setting is unique, but the calling is urgent. Pride will kill your worship team. In fact, it is the factor that will precipitate your worship ministry’s destruction (Prov. 16:18) and bring disgrace to the ministry you lead (Prov. 11:2).
What’s even worse than that, pride on a worship team can hinder the worship of a congregation. If done poorly, a worship team can use all their energies for shining a spotlight on themselves rather than God. If I shine the spotlight on myself in worship, I am attempting to rob God of the glory deserving him (Is. 42:8), providing a lesser object on which others can focus (Gal. 6:3), and doing a disservice to those I am leading (Phil. 3:17). If our efforts are done well, people will notice in such a way not to praise us but to praise God (Matt. 5:16).
Unfortunately, our hearts are wicked (Jer. 17:9). We struggle because there are evil desires not on the outside of us but on the inside of us (James 4:1). If I am not the problem, there is no solution.
How does pride manifest itself on a worship team?
- Desire for Approval. When complimented, you may point your finger towards the sky and say, “it’s God,” but if those mannerisms are not present in your heart, people may think you are humble but God thinks you are a liar (Prov. 19:9; Prov. 12:22) and doesn’t want you in his house (Ps. 101:7). Seek the approval of God rather than man (Gal. 1:10). Musical excellence impresses man; personal integrity impresses God.
- Craving for Prominence. The yearning for the solo, the hankering for the first chair, or the appetite for the front row are danger signs. You want to be first, noticed, and praised. In the kingdom, the first will be last (Matt. 10:16). If all you are seeking is the praise of men, don’t expect the praise of God (Matt. 6:1). Too often we love the glory from man more than the glory that can only come from God (John 12:43).
- Competition with Others. The craving for prominence naturally leads to competition with others on the team and creates disorder (James 3:16). Arrogance always leads to strife (Prov. 13:10). You must learn how to put the desires of others before your own (Phil. 2:3-4). Begrudgingly offering opportunities to others is an apparent sacrifice, yet it is without love and therefore considered worthless (1 Cor. 13:3). If you can’t celebrate the contributions of others on the team because of your own jealousy (1 Cor. 3:3), pride is taking over your soul.
There are many other manifestations of pride on a worship team, and they can be so subtle and yet so dangerous. In some ways, pride is the greatest secret danger on a worship team because we can hide it so well. Since it is so subtle, is there anything we can do about it? Should we even try to address it or is it just part of the environment? Realize this:
If you don’t humble yourself, God will.
Worship Team Opposition
Since worship music is a lightning rod for controversy in a local church, worship teams are very familiar with hostile opposition. From the lady with her arms crossed during that type of worship song, to the man with his hands over his ears when the drums start, to the purist who scoffs at anything not in his preferential lyrical realm, to the anonymous pen pal that threatens the leader concerning all the things done poorly, worship teams are no stranger to antagonism.
You don’t know what opposition is until you have experienced the hand of God against you.
And guess what? If pride remains unchecked, the least of your concerns is the critics in your church. God is against you. He opposes the proud (James 4:6; 1 Pet. 5:5). He tears down the homes of the prideful (Prov. 15:25). He keeps the lofty at a distance (Ps. 138:6). An arrogant heart is an abomination to the LORD and he has promised to punish such treason (Prov. 16:5).
God will not share his glory with another, and if you are trying to take it from him, you will lose this fight.
Learn what it means to humble yourselves and do it quickly (1 Pet. 5:6; James 4:10; Mic. 6:8; Matt. 23:12).
Worship teams, humble yourselves before God does it for you.