We all have one. Recognized or unrecognized, it’s there. It shows up in our worship leader voice, our frantic searching for the right thing to say, and our “what should I do with my hands”? It’s built into that unseen veil that we unconsciously construct between them and us because the real us is too unpolished and flawed. After all, we couldn’t possibly allow them to see us stumble or appear unsteady. It would distract them. It would keep them from worshipping…right?
So there we are…worship leader…weirdo.
We have to drop the act. It isn’t us. It isn’t authentic. It’s a show.
What would happen if we dropped the act? What if we weren’t afraid of leading from a place of authenticity?
It’s in this perfectly understandable, even commendable effort to put our best face forward, that we often lose our authentic self. Being authentically ourselves can be scary in general, but leading from a place of authenticity can be downright terrifying. There is risk here, with our pride being the greatest liability. Most of us are well aware of our shortcomings and need for growth, but oftentimes the very process that accompanies excellence is a breeding ground for deception in our minds. There is no way around the fact that growth requires personal effort. We can’t stand still and grow. However, when we come to the realization that we need to change, while we intend to walk the path of growth, we end up lost somewhere on the path of self-reliance. Been there? Me too.
I’ve found that there is this beautiful, mysterious balance necessary in our relationship with God through the Holy Spirit. It is a constant dance we are engaged in with Him, where He leads and we are led; yet we never stop moving. When we start leading, the dance doesn’t work; we stumble and fall. When we stop dancing, well…we stop dancing. He has asked us to actively engage our body, mind, and spirit in the dance of life and ministry with Him, yet at the same time surrender our will. And it is in the surrender of ourselves to this balance that we find humility agreeing together with boldness, truth fearlessly expressed in love, and the freedom to just go ahead and be uniquely us—unashamed and unafraid.
Your Creator says in Psalm 139 you are “fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are His works; your soul knows it very well. Your frame was not hidden from Him, when you were being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. His eyes saw your unformed substance; in His book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for you, when as yet there was none of them.”
It seems pretty obvious from this text that God was extremely purposeful in His crafting of you and me. Wouldn’t it make sense then that if we attempt to be someone other that our authentic selves, we are going against His plan?
I believe that the anointing of God is most clearly displayed in us when we are operating fully obedient to Him and uniquely ourselves. Each of us was purposefully created to express the character and glory of God in a way that no one else can.
I want to note that authenticity does not somehow excuse us from the pursuit of excellence. God is not shy about His desire for excellence (Ecc. 9:10, Col. 3:23-24). We must sharpen our skills, gather knowledge, and grow in wisdom if we are to influence those around us (Dan. 6:3). However, these things should only accelerate us toward fulfilling the purpose for which we were designed. Our skill and wisdom must be exercised authentically if we are to effectively fulfill our unique purpose.
I have the honor of helping to train the next generation of worship leaders, Christian songwriters, and musicians at Ocean’s Edge School of Worship in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Last year, we had the privilege of having Anthony Skinner teach a class on worship leading via Skype. He told us something that I’d like to pass on to you. He shared that every day he journals the answer to two questions that he asks of God.
- How much do You love me?
- It says in Psalm 139 that You knit me together in my mother’s womb; what were you thinking about when You created me?
As I have asked God these two questions over the past year, I have been continually surprised and wonderfully fulfilled by His answers. He has expressed a unique love for me that is only ours. He has revealed His purposes for me in ways that are hard to wrap words around and yet satisfy my very soul. The answers have afforded me a greater level of humility, boldness, and love in my leadership as I earnestly believe and take hold of what He says. And He has answers for you too. I encourage you to begin asking Him what He had in mind when He created you. You will need these answers in order to stay grounded in the truth. I also encourage you to get in the dance. Don’t strive; just actively receive and let Him lead. Honor your Creator by boldly accepting that His unique, purposeful design of you was exactly what He intended. Then lead from a place of authentic, fearless reliance.