One of the strangest things for worship leaders is a long season off the platform. If you’ve been really involved in church, it feels uncomfortable, like you’re wearing a onesie to a formal wedding. Many women tell me that they struggle with times of their lives when they are forced to take a break. This could be due to pregnancy or having children. It could be due to sickness, or study. Or, it could be due to discouragement from others that leads to a musical silence of the soul. More tragically still, it could be because you no longer look the part, or your church wants to take a new direction in sound, or promote younger people on the platform.
Some reasons are hard to bear, and may even feel like failure.
But I’ve learned that keeping the heart singing in the night seasons is very much the journey of every worship leader. We can see this in the life of David, who worshipped at all times in his life both good and bad. And he is described as a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). Making a decision to worship in and out of season is what makes a long and effective ministry, compared to a bright star that soon fizzles.
Here are five ways to worship lead off the platform.
- Decide to be first to enter joyfully into the Lord’s presence in every single service you attend. You are not only a worship leader on the platform. You can be one behind the sound desk. You can even be one from the floor. Present your voice, body, and soul to God and sing out with the utmost of your depths. Inspire your team and your congregation to do the same.
- Find a female worship pastor to encourage. I remember when I was the only female worship pastor in my city not working in a megachurch. I was overseeing eighty volunteers, many of them men. I had so many questions about myself. Was I too bossy? Had I said the right thing? Should I apologize for the standards I was setting for the team? This month I was able to sit and encourage a worship pastor in the same position. All she needed to hear was a clear voice saying, “Great decision. You’ve definitely got this my friend.” That’s all. And she was soaring again. What a joy to see her bring that strength to the platform, and into worship. It wasn’t mine, it was hers. But I got to share in her joy. It’s easy to worship lead via encouragement!
- Continue to worship at home. At the end of the day, it’s not about getting onto the platform. It’s actually about you and your God. All the hosts of heaven are waiting for you to pick up your instrument and worship. God is waiting. So make it a priority to lift up praise even when you’re not seen by your church. This is the power of the unseen moments.
- Give into smaller churches and ministries. You might not have space and time to be involved at a high level capacity, but I guarantee that if you open your heart to God and say ‘yes’ to service, God will make a way. Smaller churches, and midweek ministries are often desperate for help. This is such a beautiful way to show that we are all a part of the body. And hey, it doesn’t hurt to get us back into shape for the main church services, either! Say yes to something you would usually say no to!
- Lift the standard in your discipline of worship. There are times when God draws us into a secret place. And ultimately, worship is not just about the music. It is also about our lives. In Romans 12, it talks about worship not as music, but as a personal discipline. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship.” Having space and time to work on your life’s sacrifice of worship is a gift. This is also what will make your musical worship ring authentically true to the church when you stand before them, encouraging them to lift their own hearts to God. Don’t forget the battle for your own heart is worth it.
And if all else fails, then put on Brooke Ligertwood’s ‘Desert Song’ and remind your heart by singing at the top of your voice:
All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship…