Worship Leading Essentials #1 – Setting the Base

My great friend and worship leader, Shawn Wallace (pictured here flippin’ the wax at our Easter gathering), IMs me and asks this: “What are your top suggestions for an aspiring worship leader?” That started me thinking. In this series of articles I will share some of the things I have learned along the way, mostly by trial and error. Lot’s of trial, even more error. I have had the opportunity to lead worship for about 20 years and have made a fair share of discoveries. In this series, we will unearth some of those discoveries, and probably have some laughs along the way.

Life Journaling

Several years ago I was introduced to Life Journaling. I had been struggling for years in my daily devotions. It was producing some pretty mediocre results and while I really wanted to learn more about God and sense his direction, I always seemed to come up short. Some friends of mine from New Hope Christian Fellowship started hammering me on Life Journaling. After some persuasion, I caved. It changed the landscape of my spiritual life.

Life Journaling is pretty simple. It is a system of daily Bible reading followed by writing some thoughts. I Journal each morning. Sometimes it is dry and tough to pull some application out, sometimes the heavens seem to open and I get some incredible insights for the things I am struggling with. By Life Journaling I am allowing the Spirit of God to speak through the scriptures and bend my life to be in tune with what God is speaking. For a worship leader, daily time with God is a non-negotiable.

More important than your vocals, your chops, or your leadership ability, is your spiritual base. Worship leaders lead worship. We don’t lead music. You can fake it for awhile. You might even be a fantastic musician and can read a room like a book, but sooner or later you will burn out on worship. You will be frustrated and the people you are leading will be frustrated. You simply can’t take people where you have not been.

So where are you when it comes to your spirituality and worship leading? Here is a good test. Listen to the things that you say before a set or a song, or listen to the prayers that you pray during a set. Are they words that are coming from your quiet time? Are they the same old tired things that have been overused and are simply not authentic? This becomes a checkpoint for me. I hear myself saying things like “We love you God. We praise you. You are good.” Not bad things but they are more borrowed than original. When my devotions are at their best, I am praying to God with new insights from my journaling. It is both refreshing and authentic.

I believe so much in Life Journaling and daily devotions that we ask all of our worship musicians at exchange to Life Journal. As a matter of fact, we encourage everyone at exchange to Life Journal. There is simply no substitute for connecting with the one we have given our life to. You may be the most talented worship leader on the block, but if are leading from a place of low connection to God, I am not interested in your worship leading. Neither is God. Worship leaders have a responsibility to lead out of an overflow.

Stand as an authentic worshipper of God, connecting daily to the word, letting the Holy Spirit shape your life like Christ. Put down the guitar and the aspirations of being the next Crowder or Tomlin and connect to the one that we orient our lives around. You may never be the same.

Drop in next time as we explore getting past the details and giving yourself permission to worship.

[tags]life journaling, worship, god, jesus, christ, jesus christ, david crowder, chris tomlin, experience[/tags]

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9 thoughts on “Worship Leading Essentials #1 – Setting the Base

  1. Just to show how new I am at all this, asking me what I’m praying during a set is like asking a skydiver what recipes he’s working on while pulling his ripcord. I’m doing everything I can just to hold it together; forget praying! 🙂

  2. Shawn,
    I hear ya. There are so many things coming at a worship leader it can get crazy. I have found that time builds confidence and makes you more relaxed. Be patient. Stick around for some more articles that I will post soon. I really think they will help in getting a better grip on the details and hopefully offer some calmness.

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  4. Thank you for taking the time to write this. It seems that this will be really helpful to me. I just became a worship leader at my church and it just seems that the enemy is attacking me from everyway. I read my bible everyday and I speak with my father everyday…but I don’t always give him the chance to speak with me. I find it difficult to just be still but, I feel that maybe if I journal, that will be a start to something greater. Again, thank you for your words…they may change my life!