Where's your focus

Where’s your focus?

It’s easy to be distracted from what really matters. It’s easy to be distracted by something shiny and miss what is real.

It’s easy to be distracted and want things more than the opportunity to effect a change.

Jesus put this into perspective in Matthew 16: 21-23. “From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.’ But He turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.’” NASB (Boldface added.)

When I read these verses, one particular truth pierces me: when my mind is focused on man’s interests and not on what God wants, I become a stumbling block. So I ask myself these questions:

Where has my focus been?

Am I really focusing on what God wants—what I sense He’s leading me to do?

Have I been focusing on what will please God, or have I been focusing on pleasing people?

We need to honestly evaluate ourselves as worship leaders, and determine whether we’ve allowed ourselves to be distracted by what’s shiny, what’s worldly, and what’s emotionally-driven.

When our focus is on God, what He has said in His Word, what is His commission to believers, and what pleases Him in worship, then we’ll be available for Him to use powerfully. I’m not satisfied with trying to minister based on what I know or see or think. I want to know, see, and think from God’s perspective.

Recently, during prayer, I sensed these words: My job is to be so full of the Holy Spirit that I think on a different plane—looking at things from God’s perspective—where I am not enthralled with this life, where I am enthralled only with Him. A true, Spirit-led life means that my spirit is so in tune with the Holy Spirit that we are united in perception, understanding, and action.

I’m keeping my focus on God and His Word.

You can’t put a price on it

You can’t put a price on it.

We’re very casual about assessing someone’s value. We look at people and determine whether they’re worth our time and effort.

At times, while leading worship, I’ve been in a sweet spot and I’ve glanced to the back of the church and seen someone with their arms crossed in defiance, or someone yawning or texting or talking to someone else. To put it mildly, that doesn’t make me happy in that moment. My emotions flare and I want to shout, “Don’t you know that we’re worshiping GOD, and He’s worthy! What are you thinking!” But those are my emotions.

Regardless of whether someone in the congregation isn’t responding to worship the way you think he or she should, regardless of people’s actions, we don’t have the right to judge them. We don’t know what they’re going through or how much they worked lately, or what’s really affecting their actions.

It’s time for us as worship ministers to look at people the way God sees them – looking at them with God’s eyes of love.

We have the capacity to love like God loves. 

Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” NASB

We have the ability within us to look at others and see their value through God’s eyes. Their worth is so great that Jesus paid the price for their sin. He valued them more than His life. He gave His life because He loves us. 

We have the ability to love people the way God loves them. Romans 5:5 says that God’s love has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. It’s already in there. God’s love was demonstrated and provided for us. It’s so great that it allows us to look beyond a person’s actions and see their value and potential.

It’s time to look at people the way God sees them, with the eyes of love. Be an imitator of God. Accept and celebrate the other person’s gifts and abilities, their uniqueness and strengths. 

You can’t put a price on their value. Their worth is so great that Jesus gave everything for them.

Building Your Team

Building your team.

A worship team or choir can be one of the most wonderful, supportive groups of people with whom you will ever be involved. After all, you are all musicians, and you have your relationship with God and your love of music in common. But those two commonalities are just the foundation of what can be one of the most enriching experiences of your life.

Here are some suggestions for developing and strengthening your unity as a team.

  • Look at yourselves as a small group (life group, core group), and live life together by being supportive and authentic.
  • Pray together. Pray for your local church, for each other, for the missionaries the church supports, and for your pastor and leadership team.
  • Study God’s Word together. Talk about scriptures that you’ve been reading individually or as a group. The worship leader/pastor should be the moderator or initial teacher.
  • Practice together. Work to make the music tight. Check out my post on making it tight (part 2).
  • Worship together. Not all rehearsal time should be music practice. Take some time, maybe once a month, where all you do together is just worship during your rehearsal time. Flow from song to song, and then spend some real time (not just a few minutes) in free worship. One of the benefits of simply worshiping together (outside of leading a congregation in worship) is that you will become more attuned in following the Holy Spirit’s prompting while you’re in free worship or going from song to song as you feel led. You also will become more sensitive to each other; you won’t be thinking about the congregation. It’s unifying. It’s uplifting. It’s powerful.

These suggestions will help you to grow together.

If strife, envy, or offense occurs in the team, choose to love, restore, and forgive. Follow Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:1-3, “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” NASB (emphasis added)

The more you pray for each other and choose to love and live in forgiveness, the stronger you become as a team. God loves unity. He can use the team as you flow together.

Give them a feast

Give them a feast.

There are times when I’m leading worship where I’m tempted to be discouraged by the congregation’s actions or disengagement. I know that it’s not my responsibility as a worship leader to make someone do or feel something. But there have been times when the presence of God has been so powerful, and yet people in the congregation were distracted or yawning.

Let me be frank. They were yawning with their mouths open. Didn’t their mothers teach them to cover their mouths when they yawn? But I digress.

It’s easy to be distracted when you’re on the platform. You’re there to lead and encourage, and it’s easy to be discouraged when it seems as if people don’t sense what you sense. What should you do?

My mother, who was one of my mentors in ministry, told me after I had preached my first sermon and had totally tanked, “Your job is not to make people receive; your job is to give the Word of God to the best of your knowledge and ability. It’s the Holy Spirit’s job to make the Word come alive in the people’s spirits. And it’s the people’s job to receive.”

In other words, give them a feast.

Prep your worship set, practice your songs, perfect your skills, submit yourself to God, pray, and lead worship from your heart. Then, give them a feast: give God the glory that He deserves in heartfelt, Spirit-directed worship. Lead the people in giving God honor. And trust that the Holy Spirit will inspire the people in worship as you give them a feast.