by Fred McKinnon (Feb '99)
The Lord gave me this vision years ago, pertaining to my role as a worship leader, especially on Sunday mornings in a corporate setting, where MANY (if not most, sadly) are not accustomed to having a lifestyle of praise/worship and haven't really had much communion w/ God during the week.
The Worship Leading "Guide"
I see leading worship (as an individual, or a "worship leading team") kinda like being a "guide". Imagine this - you are a guide for this big hike up a "mountain trail". (After all - we often refer to praising God, or entering into His presence, as "going up the mountain of the Lord".)
As the "guide", you've been up and down this trail a thousand times. You know it like the back of your hand - you could go up the trail blindfolded - you know it's turns and bends - and you are really "in shape" from going up this mountain - you could start at the bottom and run all the way up, and get there in just a few minutes . . .and oh, at the top - - - what a view! (I love the view from here!)
It's Sunday AM - and there are quite a few "tourists" who have signed up for this hike today! What's my job? (or, the job of my team of guides?) To lead everyone up the mountain to the summit!
Now - there are lots of people here - some are experienced "hikers" - they will be on my heels, all the way up. Some are "first timers" - they aren't even sure how to put on their pack . . and they have their pack loaded with all kinds of heavy things! Some are here every week, but only because they are "in the habit".
Now - my job is this - to make sure we all get up. I could just take off and say "see you at the top - the trail is this way - last one up is a "rotten egg!" . . .of course, I'll probably be one of the first ones up, and I'll have lots of time to enjoy the view. . . . but halfway down the mountain, all my "travelers" are getting lost . . .wondering where I am - not sure if they should try to continue.
Wouldn't it be better if I just take it easy - stop and look behind me now and then, to make sure everyone is getting along OK? After all - I don't want to leave everyone behind just for my own benefit! I'm the guide - I'm SERVING the people! I must use DISCERNMENT to see where the people are - and what I can do to help them get up the mountain!
Hopefully, you see the comparison to a worship service. In a corporate setting (not my own personal worship), I have to remind myself that although I can jump into "the river" so to speak and get into deep, intimate worship, and get totally lost - - - - - although that blesses me, and I really enjoy it, I don't know that I've really served (or helped) the people! (although, I still want to get lost in deep, passionate worship, but with the Body!)
What's the point? I think that as worship leaders, we should remember that Sunday AM worship isn't necessarily the time or place for us to get so LOST in our personal worship of God that we lose sight of where the congregation is. I tell my worship team to "get lost in God, but do it with 'one eye open"! In other words - I want to maintain the heartbeat of our people - and not go so far up (so quickly) that they get lost!
So - the idea is that we ALL get to the summit TOGETHER! Oh, what a marvelous time that will be! Not to say that we shouldn't try and go to "the top" - but that we should not forget that it takes some people longer to get there, and as a LEADER, we are a SERVANT - we must forget about our own ambition and desire, and serve the Body! AMEN??
Of course - there will be those hikers who start breathing hard after the first few minutes, and decide they can't do it. That's OK! And there will be those who, when getting out of the "car" - take one look up, through the fog and clouds, at the top of that mountain, and shake their heads, say "no way", and get in the car and leave. . . .if you know what I mean!
Hope this lil' vision/story I had will help others who are worship leaders! It's important to understand that this concept applies to leading worship in a corporate setting - in your own private worship - hey - take off and RUN to His presence!
Fred McKinnon is President of "Highest Praise" Productions/HPP Publishing
and Chief Musician/Worship Leader, Christian Renewal Church, SSI
Be sure to visit his website at http://www.highestpraise.com