Recently, I’ve been thinking again about the importance of our heart attitudes. When involved in leading worship it can be so easy to lose focus and concentrate on the less important things. There can be a temptation to get so carried away with trying to create the best sounds and songs that we forget about our own attitudes and motives. Although it’s essential that we give our best shot to being as musical and creative as we can, we must never forget the simple meaning of worship. When thinking about the attitudes of a worshipper, King David provides an excellent example. I have been challenged by the way he lived his life and want to briefly look at a few of his characteristics.
First, David had a heart after God. He actively pursued and hungered after God. One thing we often see David doing is 'inquiring of the Lord'. A great example of this was when David and his men returned to their base in Ziklag to discover it burnt to a crisp with their children and wives kidnapped. In the midst of such panic and grief, rather than letting his emotions get the better of him, David goes off to inquire of the Lord. (1 Samuel 30:1-8)
David concerned himself with doing the Lord’s will and not necessarily his own. It’s so important for any worship leader to be constantly seeking God’s will. It can be easy to get complacent and work out the set formulas to get a good response in worship, but by doing this we’ll miss out on so much of what God is doing. Rather let’s be asking God to show us what He is doing and follow that. Therefore when leading worship it’s vital to be seeking God’s direction in terms of song selection, where He’s taking it and what He’s wanting to show us. If we don't 'inquire of the Lord' we’ll miss it.
David embraced the hidden place where he would hang out with God. It was in this place that he learned so much about God, worship and living a life for Him. I know for me personally that it has been on my own with God, worshipping Him and pouring out my heart that I have fallen deeper into love with Him and been changed. Let’s embrace the hidden place.
Another characteristic we see in David was that he knew what it was to serve and to be humble. After having been anointed King by Samuel rather than letting it go to his head, he headed straight back to look after his beloved sheep! Now I don’t know about you but if I had been told that I was going to be the next King of my country, I wouldn’t return to my day job. However David knew what it meant to serve. He knew that before God it was just as important to serve his sheep as it was to lead his country.
Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that we are all called to serve and not to be served. I heard the story of a well-known worship leader who when he was starting out was very eager to be involved in leading lots of worship events. However his main role at his church was initially to clean up after services and keep the place tidy. At first he resented doing this, but found that it was in this place that he met with God in a deep way and learned the importance of the heart of worship. As worship leaders we’re called first to serve God, and then to serve the people we’re leading in worship. If we know what it means to serve then humility will naturally follow.
Another thing we see in David is that he led by example. David lived a life of worship and consequently encouraged others to do likewise. One classic example was when David took on the mighty Goliath. Now in this situation David didn’t confront Goliath because he was in a bad mood and was up for a fight. Rather David got his handy sling ready because he couldn’t face seeing this giant mocking his God.
Another time in David’s life, as he was bringing the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem, David was seen to be dancing with all his might in just an ephod – which apparently didn’t cover much!! When his wife Michal looked on, she was embarrassed and ashamed, and consequently didn’t hold back on letting David know how she felt. However, to this David replied; "I will become even more undignified than this and I will be humiliated in my own eyes." (2 Samuel 6:22) Here we see David worshipping God, going for it with all he had. It wasn’t just his words that showed how much he loved God; it was his whole lifestyle that displayed his devotion.
One thing I love about David was that he was his own man. When he was about to square up to Goliath, the present king, Saul, told him to try on his best armor. However David was drowned in the kings fighting gear, and instead opted for a sling and five stones. Not much really when it comes to state of the art fighting equipment. The issue though was that David wasn’t going to pretend to be anything he wasn’t – he was going to be his own man. Graham Kendrick once said, "If asked to sum up the art of leading worship in one simple sentence, I think I would say, be a worshipper, be a servant, and be yourself." It’s so important that we allow God to use us the way he intended to, rather than something that’s not true to us. Unfortunately I will never have the guitar skills of Eric Clapton or the voice of Bono, but that doesn’t matter as God chooses to use me the way I am.
Finally in David we see someone who respected those in leadership over him. Even though he was cruelly treated and pursued by Saul, the king at the time, David refused to harm him. David maintained a respect for the one he described as "the Lord’s anointed." (1 Samuel 24:16) We must always honor and respect those in leadership over us, even when that is tough.
Sadly today, people are painfully aware that no one is perfect. Again and again we have seen celebrities and church leaders fall from grace. Nothing seems to really shock anymore. This is why I believe it is so important to constantly be checking the attitudes of our hearts. When we get to Heaven, God will care little about how many albums someone sold, how many great harmonies we sang, how many inspired electric guitar solos we belted out. But He will care a lot about the attitudes of our hearts.
Tim Hughes is the Assistant Worship Pastor at Soul Survivor Watford. He has been leading worship at the Soul Survivor festivals from the age of 19, since 1997. He studied History at Sheffield, graduating in 2000 where he took a position at Soul Survivor Ministries. His current role involves him leading worship at Soul Survivor events globally and training other worship leaders and musicians at Soul Survivor Watford, at conferences and seminars and through heartofworship.com. He recorded Reward in 1999 with Martyn Layzell, and has written the songs 'Light of the World', 'Jesus Alone' and 'My Jesus, My lifeline'.