TOP 5 SIGNS YOU TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY (And Jesus Not Seriously Enough)
I am a worship leader. I hang around worship leaders and worship players for a living. In fact, some of my best friends are worship leaders/players. We are a very emotional, artistic bunch. We take what we do very seriously – sometimes, too seriously. For example, I was in a gathering of worship leaders and it was really amusing, or disturbing, to see how hard these guys seemed to be working to appear “together.” I found myself eavesdropping on conversations most of which, in some way were about highlighting their latest adventures in rubbing shoulders with important people and/or being at important places doing important things. Interspersed in these talks were bitter diatribes about the latest Tomlin song (“He is a sellout!”) and laments of how their sense of artistry is lost on their congregation (“My congregation doesn’t get me.”) It brought me to this thought: as a “people group”, we may be missing the heart of our calling. Peter, in one of his books, talks about our giftedness and how it is to be used.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” ~1 Peter 4:10– 11
God gave us our gifts to point people to Him, not ourselves, and I am the chief of sinners when it comes to misusing the gifts that God had given me. So, here are 5 things to look for in your life that are signs that you take yourself too seriously, and Jesus not seriously enough.
1. You spend more time on your hair than you do in quality time with Jesus. Seriously, this is an issue of style over substance. Don’t get me wrong, fashion is totally cool; this is more about what you really value. Whether you’re the “hipster” that wears the v-neck and vest, beret and scarf, or the skinny jean guy, or the guy that spends an inordinate amount of time working to make your hair look like you just crawled out of bed, if you spend more time picking out your wardrobe and primping than you do at the feet of Jesus, you may have a problem. By the way, this comes from a guy with a gray “Bieber-do.” I’m not judging, just sayin’…
2. You’ve bought into American Idol worship. If you find yourself singing in keys that feature your voice, but no one else can sing in, or you constantly “Aguilera” a song, abandoning the melody in search of the perfect run or ad-lib, you may have a problem. (By the way, I would love to have the kind of voice that I would have to show that kind of restraint!)The reason you have the title “worship leader” is because you are supposed to be focused on leading people in a corporate expression of worship. If they can’t sing with you, then guess who might be promoting themselves?
3. You value Artistry over Ministry. This falls under the category of “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” That 32-bar instrumental in the middle of the song with the killer solo and the meter change from 4/4 to 6/8 (except for the 5/8 bar you threw in to be clever) is awesome at a concert, but is it really necessary in a normal corporate worship gathering? Again, it features your mad skills, but may not be pointing people where you might think. Also, if you spend more time in the green room than among the people you’re leading, especially during the pastor’s message, that’s a sign that you might be missing something. If you’re wondering why your congregation doesn’t “get” you, it could well be because you act like a rock star around them and have and air of unapproachability. Who you are off the stage is way more important than who you are on it. Worship leading is ministry first, so if you are going to err, let it be on the side of accessibility. It will gain follwership, and give you the opportunity to minister to your people.
4. “Hey, you dropped something.” If you find yourself constantly name dropping, “Yeah, I was playing with (insert important person here) at (insert prominent church here), and he said (insert important endorsement)”, (worship leader “pick-up” lines), or you find yourself talking negatively about other leaders or players (It generally gets back to them, by the way), it may be a sign that you take yourself too seriously. It also shows a great deal of insecurity. If you are called by God to be a worship leader, then he already has a path prepared for you. He doesn’t need your help to make an impression by giving your resume to anyone who will listen. Instead of dropping industry names, try “This morning in my time with God, he convicted me of/showed me/taught me (you get the idea)…”
5. Show me the money. This is a tough one, because I do believe that worship leading/playing can be a career. However, when your first question is, “How much does it pay,” you might be taking yourself too seriously. If you are chasing the dollar in order to be a part of “worship,” then there is a very good chance that you could be missing out on some God-ordained opportunities to be used in facilitating worship. Just because you have been paid to lead or play doesn’t make it a requirement every time you pick up your instrument. That’s called entitlement, and it is a disease that has infected our worship culture in America. Make it a point to serve as often as you can. God will honor it.
I have been guilty of each of these points at some point in my ministry career. My prayer is that, as a group, we would all take stock in our lives and walk in the humility that the position requires – Less me, more Jesus. And let our number one goal be to chase after Jesus every day. The next big gig will take care of itself.