Over the course of the past week or so, I’ve been pondering my ministry outlet at our church. I’m not really sure what the trigger was, if something happened in particular that set my mind to thinking on this. Whatever the reason, I realized that I’ve never sat down and written out the “why” behind what I do.For many years, and in each of the local churches where I’ve been, my primary ministry has been leading worship. Whether I’ve been one of several in the church choir, part of a smaller ensemble, or behind a microphone, this has been my main outlet more than anything else. And I honestly don’t think it’s because I have some unmatched, exquisite talent. There are many men and women leading worship in other churches out there who are far more talented and far more able. I listen to my favorite well-known worship leaders, women I went to college with, many people who have the incredible gift of singing or even composing. Or they have the even greater gift of singing and guitar and piano and composing and…yes, there are those out there who are far more capable than I am.
The most challenging season regarding my place in worship ministry was during the college years. My husband and I were at a vibrant church, one busting at the seams and full of individuals eager to get involved in an array of ministries. I was surrounded by men and women who were truly gifted in the area of music, and their skills and passion were readily put to use in the corporate or small group setting. I spent many a semester during that season wondering where I fit in all this flurry of talent. I was surrounded by people who were being handed opportunities to serve, and I came to a place where I wondered what was wrong with me. Was I just not that good? Was I not charismatic enough? Could they not see this deep passion, this fire in me, for leading? And then…the one time I was asked to help lead at our citywide college Bible study, I was sick. Something must have been wrong with me. So I shied away a bit, sang here and there on occasion with the ensemble that was part of our church’s larger worship team, worked out some of my jealousy issues, and tried embracing the reality that maybe this just wasn’t my area. But like anything for which a person holds deep passion, like any gift or desire that really does burn like a fire in the bones, my passion for leading worship did not end in complete death. It merely hibernated for a few years. Once we moved to Louisville and I became involved at the church prior to the one we are at now, I couldn’t stifle the desire any longer. As soon as we joined as members of that local body, I approached the head worship leader and became involved with the team shortly thereafter. The same occurred at the church we are at now, and I know down in the very core of who I am that this truly is my primary means of ministry to our local church. There are other areas of ministry to which I am drawn –womens’ ministry, encouraging young women –but I know that this gift I hold is from the Lord and one of the central ways He has so undeservedly called me to serve.
So after that as an introduction of sorts…why? Why lead at church on Sunday mornings rather than singing elsewhere (i.e. sticking with my original college plan which involved a music degree)? Why lead on the stage rather than in some other avenue of ministry? Our worship pastor reminds me that if I need a breather at any time from singing Sunday in and Sunday out, I just say the word and he will promptly recruit someone to fill in. There have been occasions when my heart has needed the rest. Those times have done my soul good, sitting amongst the congregation and letting the music and voices wash over. I know that there may come a day when I am compelled to serve elsewhere, just as there have been those seasons in the past. But with few exceptions, I’m on the stage to practice every Sunday morning at 8:45 (thereabouts…I’ve never claimed to be the most punctual of women.) Singing can be likened to breathing for me. Not only am I moved and encouraged by the unique beauty music holds, but part of my very identity is singing. I think this is a good and right way to view how the Lord has knit each of us together, made in such ways that we possess unique skill sets and giftings. (Aside: For those who have been saved by Christ and are now children of God, He didn’t leave anyone out. He has entrusted all of His children with particular gifts.) Our identity in Christ includes such gifts for the joy and encouragement of others, and to ultimately glorify Him. This is singing for me. More specifically, this is leading the congregation in corporate worship.
I also love the view. What an amazing joy it is to look out on the congregation every Sunday morning. Not only do I derive deep joy from beholding the church lifting their voices to God, but I’m also overcome with a great sense of humility. How humbling it is to witness the woman with tears in her eyes, crying, “Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well, it is well with my soul.’” Or beholding the man with his arms outstretched, declaring, “You looked upon my helpless state and led me to the cross. And I beheld God’s love displayed, You suffered in my place. You bore the wrath reserved for me, now all I know is grace!” I have no other words to describe the experience but deeply humbling and joyous. I love hearing the body of believers sing so loudly we can hear them over the sound system. I love catching a glimpse of the Church rightly worshipping God in an otherwise broken world. I love seeing the expressions on the faces of those I know are in times of joy or sorrow, declaring the truths in the music even in seasons when those truths are hard to utter. I consider it such an undeserved blessing to stand behind that microphone every Sunday morning.
“A thousand men could not compose a worthy song to bring, yet Your love is the melody our hearts can’t help but sing.”