Most of us live on our emotions. If we “feel” good, then we think our walk with God is okay. If we “feel” lousy then something must be wrong. Emotions are great things, but they can be misleading. For many of us, leading worship is our “job.” I mean it is how we feed our families or at least it is what we want to do for a living someday. As a person who has had the privilege to have made his living doing ministry for a while, there are times that I have lead worship with no feelings of emotion. I struggle with my walk with God. I go through times of testing and trial and my emotional reservoirs are empty. Is that bad? Not necessarily.
Faith is part of being an effective worship leader. I must trust God to worship through me when I don’t feel like leading. I must trust in the truths of who I am in Christ when I “feel” unworthy or when I am in a season of failure. Obviously, if we are living in grievous sin we will sense the conviction of the Holy Spirit. But I am talking about something else. I am talking about doing ministry when the world seems like it is crashing down on us. I am talking about holding on to God and trusting in Him to work through us when we may have been placed in the desert place by God’s own sovereign hand. You see we must “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7) when the darkness closes in over our lives.
For many years, I judged (inaccurately) the effectiveness of my worship leading by how I felt during the praise time. If I “felt the Spirit” then I was doing a good job, but if I didn’t then I felt a nagging frustration that I was “off.” Now I am not saying that we should never feel the Spirit of God while we lead, but we must not judge the effectiveness of our ministry based on our own personal emotional experience. Many times I have led worship when I felt nothing at all while God did an amazing, even visible work in the lives of His people. Sometimes I am just amazed by an e-mail from someone whose life was forever changed by a worship set where I felt zero emotion. It is a faith-walk that we are on, and we must trust God with the results.
Living by your emotions as a worship leader is a dangerous thing because you can fall into the trap of manipulation. I have seen worship leaders (and speakers) try to conjure up an audience into an emotional frenzy that is neither spiritual nor worshipful. Why? Because that worship leader could have very well fallen into the trap of believing that in order to be effective, he or she needed to personally experience a “spiritual high.” We must be careful as God’s leaders to make sure that our motives are pure, that we are trusting in Christ to live through us, and to not take matters into our own hands.
How do you know if you are getting caught in the trap of living by your feelings as a worship leader?
1. Do you gauge your effectiveness by how you feel?
2. Do you get angry with the audience if they are not visibly responding?
3. Do you catch yourself trying to create an emotional experience as you are leading?
There is nothing wrong with feeling God’s presence when we lead. As a matter of fact, if we NEVER feel God’s presence when we lead, something is wrong. But there are times when we don’t feel anything, and that is okay. We must understand that ministry is about faith and trusting in God to do His work through our yielded lives, whether we feel it or not.