A few weeks ago, I took a weekend off from leading worship. I had a good excuse: I was adopting my foster son into our family forever. The adoption happened on National Adoption Day, on a Saturday morning, so I was not going to be at rehearsal. It was also a good opportunity to sit with my wife and kids through a whole service at our own church to see what it’s like to be one of the congregation. It was not as hard as I expected to be one of the worshipers who is not in control of the music. In fact, I was very thankful afterward for what I experienced because it made me more excited to get back into my job and lead.
One thing I learned was that there are a lot of factors that the musicians have no control over that distract our people from the singing. We came in right as the service was starting so I was not exactly focused until the middle of the first song. Then my kids were a big distraction. They ask questions, squirm, make noise, wander off, cry, or just about anything else they can do to occupy my attention. As a music leader, this gave me a renewed sense of peace that those people who seem to not be engaged on Sunday are not necessarily that way because they are unspiritual or I am doing a bad job. It could be just that they are not as prepared, unfettered and focused as the music director gets to be. So I want to give myself and the people I serve some grace because there are a lot of distractions. I also want to be more deliberate about doing what needs to be done to focus attention on the worship process – parents and kids alike.
There were a few mistakes the week I took off. They weren’t major, but they were noticeable. Some mistakes were only known to me because of the inside knowledge I have about song form or whatever. The good news is that despite the mistakes, my participation as one of “the people” was not derailed by a few gaffs from the leaders. I looked at the team that was leading, my friends, and their mistakes were not that important. It was actually endearing to watch as they worked around the problem and came out on the other side without getting mad or breaking down. As a leader, this gave me more peace about the process of preparing for worship. We can mess up! It’s not we should be deliberately negligent to prepare because love and hospitality require that we make an effort to do a good job. However, the fear or failure in performance is not there if you know that you are leading for family, not judges.
I love my job. I enjoy leading. Taking a week off made me miss my job and want to get back in the saddle. I believe that the Lord has given me gifts and passion and joy to lead the worship songs. It was a special time to be able to sing with my wife and kids, but we all are committed as a family to my role in our church and it brings us joy to be able to do that. Today, I’m in the office getting songs together, preparing charts, contacting volunteers, and it’s just adding to my excitement about being able to sing and play for the Lord again this Sunday. It’s the best job in the world.