I don’t know about you, but I can quickly pick up on a worship leader’s approach and posture. If it’s a positive experience and the worship leader is leading from a place of confidence and rootedness in Christ, we’re having church! However, the experience goes negative for me when the worship leader’s posture is rooted in self and performance.
You can probably tell when someone is just pushing through the songs they’ve chosen – just making sure it looks and sounds good. You can see when someone is performing their set list and when someone is fully relying on the Spirit’s power to guide and lead them. Their expression doesn’t come across as performance or a distraction when you can see it’s the Spirit’s power within them that’s actually doing the leading. There is such a big difference here. And for me, it’s all about the posture.
I’ve been leading worship for a long time. I started around the age of 14 in youth group and I’m now 34. From the first moment I was given the opportunity to lead a group of people musically, something just clicked for me. I missed one thing at that young age, though: the posture part. I didn’t fully understand the place of posture and confidence with my gifting – how it should have been rooted fully in Jesus and the power of His Spirit and not the posture I applied to the role. Back then I was making sure I had all the right “moves”.
Trust me, people saw right through it. And I wasn’t leading anyone.
Looking back, I now realize a few missteps in my discipleship regarding posture and rootedness. Back then, modern worship was still new in the sense of a modern context and the idea of “rock bands” doing the leading. Thus, the modern role of the worship leader was still being shaped into what it is today.
Harold Best, in his book “Unceasing Worship”, said: “human beings, Christian or not, are all worshipers, whether or not their worship is directed toward God, showing that all of life expresses the fact that we were created as worshipers.”
There is something so unique when I’m gathered with my local church pouring out my love for Jesus. The only word to explain it is joy. Whether we’re singing a song of repentance or praise, it’s joy. When I’m the leader in those moments, physically I just can’t contain the joy I have in my heart for Him. Admittedly, I often look a bit foolish doing so. And I’m not lying when I say this, I’m a terrible dancer. If you’ve ever watched Seinfeld, there’s an episode where Elaine dances at a wedding. Yeah, that’s me. But just, in front of lots of people. And like her, not really caring what they think about it.
Now please hear me. I’m not so ignorant that on stage I’m doing what I want and not caring whatsoever for the people who are there with me. I understand people need direction and good leadership in those moments. I also know how frustrating it is when a worship leader is off and on their microphone dancing around so much that you can’t figure out if they even know the words to the songs or not. I’m not that guy. That’s just poor leadership.
But a huge part of posture is confidence, and knowing where that confidence comes from is the key. While I’m up there singing, kicking my legs around like I’m twitching or something, I can’t contain the excitement and joy I feel inside. Knowing what Christ has done, what He has conquered and what we have in Him… How can we not be so overcome that our physical, emotional, and spiritual expression is undone in His presence?
When King David returned with his army from battle, it says that they were so overcome with emotion that they engaged in festive dancing. The scripture tells us that David danced before God with all his might. He danced before God with all that he had and with all that he was, as he was utterly and completely overcome by the joy of God.
So what is the posture of worship?
Lead people, but be yourself as you lead. We were created to worship – it’s just what we do as human beings – so let that natural tendency overflow as you lead.