I led worship for one of my church’s contemporary services almost ten years ago. I was fresh out of college with my church music degree clutched tightly in my fist, and I was ready to serve God with it. I found myself thrust into a worship leader position at a new-ish service. All the other people in leadership were burnt out and stepped down. There was no one else willing to step up and it looked like the service might not make it. I stepped up and offered my help, although I didn’t know what the heck I was doing.
Along with the leadership, much of the band had left as well. I found myself left with a guitarist, drummer, and a faithful sound guy who years later would become my husband. With that bare-boned group, we kept pushing through and eventually built a worship band back up.
I loved it. I grew so close to that group. They were so encouraging to me as I fumbled through and learned as I went. I would have stayed in that position too, had it not been for the volunteer position with the African Children’s Choir that came up. I followed God’s will and stepped down from the worship leader position, leaving it in the capable hands of a sweet friend who took that band where I never could.
Fast forward five years, and I was back from the African Children’s Choir, changes happened at church, and I was struggling with where to fit in. Along with that is all the baggage from my worship journey. I found that I stood in the back of the church, throwing stones and complaining about all the little things I didn’t like.
One night, I was feeling nostalgic and actually getting into the worship at church. I thought, “I miss that. I miss leading worship.”
Literally two days later the volunteer worship leader asked if I would consider taking over. I prayed about it, and said yes.
I took the position and was scared to death. It had been years since I had done this. It was uncomfortable and awkward, and I struggled to fit in with the group. And yet I still knew that I was supposed to be there.
All the discomfort in standing up there on stage in front of everyone kept me humble. I found that I was less likely to throw stones at other worship leaders because I remembered all the tough stuff that went along with it. Worship leading is tough.
I led for a year and a half. I loved the musicians I played with. I trusted them and I felt safe. I found that leading worship helped keep my cynicism in check.
However, I soon felt the need to step down.
Choosing songs and holding rehearsals was exhausting. I discovered that leading worship was just one more thing on my to do list. I was draining myself and discovered that my heart wasn’t really in it. This is not a good place to be.
I still don’t feel led to step back into worship leading. But I’m thankful for the reminder of how hard worship leading is, and how I always need to offer grace to the one behind the microphone.