If I have the perfect worship set, polished with seamless transitions and coordinating lighting, but have not love… I am nothing.

If I have spoken the Word in truth and declared God’s promises over His people in power, but have not love… I am nothing.

If I have mentored this worship team throughout the week, being careful to hear their concerns, respond to their requests and encourage them, but have not love… I am nothing.

You get the point.

I have been shocked as a worship leader by how easy it is to do a “great” job on any given week preparing for and leading a worship set, while missing the core motivation that Christ has given us for doing so: love. Though my intentions are good, my sin nature gets in the way. Before I realize it, I am operating out of my own strength as I seek to lead God’s people in worship.

This takes on many forms, but for me the first sign of it is pride masked in frustration. I’ll be going about planning a set, thinking through transitions, responding to team member emails, etc. From an outsider’s point of view, I’d be considered a “success” as a leader. In reality, I’m too often going through the motions and forgetting to ask my Savior to fill me with love for Him, my team and the congregation. I begin to get aggravated by the little things. There is a notable difference between those times and the times when I’ve stopped and allowed the Holy Spirit to fill and motivate me.

1 Corinthians 13:1 says it well:

“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

We have enough clanging cymbals on stage, don’t we? How often have stopped mid-set and wondered why your heart feels so disconnected from your spirit? Or perhaps you have led out of a deep love for the Lord and for His people and felt the incredible power that comes from leading in that way.

Jesus is the perfect example of someone who did everything out of a deep love for God and people. Everything he did was motivated by a relentless, rich love, and He knew the source of that love -- His Father. He would often retreat to pray and receive from God. Then that love would flow out of him onto all He came to reach, culminating in power on the cross at Calvary. Love cost Him everything. Will we allow it to cost us?

Love is being patient with a team that doesn’t know their parts. Love is offering kindness to a pastor that didn’t get the sermon notes to you on time. Love is not being rude to an audio engineer who can’t seem to get your mix right. Love is not boasting when things go well. Love is believing and hoping that God can do amazing things through humble hearts. Love is boldly approaching the throne of grace and allowing God to speak through the power of His Spirit in worship.

Love is often the hardest calling we have, but the greatest gift we can give. Let us, as worship leaders and image-bearers, allow love to be the thing that propels every aspect of our leading.