Perfection to Praise
A wise friend said to me, ‘Leading praise and worship is not about perfection (self-focus), but about bringing people into the presence of God (God-focus).’ When I first heard this it jarred me. Was she saying that she didn’t think I could lead worship from a heart of praise, but that I’d be longing for perfection and the affirmations from people instead? Whoa! Time out! I had to think about this. I dearly loved my friend and knew that she was not saying this to hurt me, but rather to challenge me. Since I also dearly loved God, I didn’t want to do this worship stuff ‘wrong.’ But even that response was self-focused. My mindset was so focused on the ‘right’ and the ‘wrong’ way to do things that even in this, I was using a perfectionistic mindset.
Praise of Man or Praise to God…
Because of my friend’s caution to study my heart before jumping on the church stage, I paused and considered my motives. I still participated in the praise choir weekends and even co-led them. I really enjoyed doing this. I also led a group of carolers in the Christmas season for multiple years and this group had the opportunity to join up with a local music store and carol around at area businesses! Finally, I served on the kids worship team, but I still didn’t move forward with trying out for the worship team because I just couldn’t figure out if my motives were to perform and hear praises from people or to truly lead a congregation with a heart turned fully towards God.
I also had a hidden insecurity. What if I wasn’t good enough? I was asked once, just once, to do background vocals at a leader’s meeting many years ago. It didn’t go well. In my defense, I had barely any practice, not a lot of feedback or input, and I wasn’t confident in harmonizing since all of my experience was in singing the melody! But this realization, that if I was going to be on the worship team I’d have to begin with harmonizing, was terrifying. For me, it was SO MUCH EASIER to sing the melody than come up with harmonies on my own. So, I practiced in the audience for many years. When it was time to sing, I’d turn my heart to God and also try out some harmonizing in the safety of a thousand voices.
Where am I now?
Today, I trust my heart enough to sing with purity of praise to my wonderful Heavenly Father. I can even harmonize much more confidently and accurately. But the stage of life that I’m in makes being a regular member of a worship team a very difficult task. I don’t feel like God is calling me to sing on-stage right now. Instead, I have the privilege to teach on-stage vocalists and see them improve and go further because of proper voice use! My heart bursts into praise as I lift my voice with my students and the congregants around me. But, God’s stirring something else. He’s been talking to me about honing this skill and being self-led in worship. So, I’m learning to play piano chords and sing at the same time in the private space of my home. Jesus and me… and my little kiddos, playing in the swirl of music, voice, and praise.
Check out my earlier post leading up to this time: Perfection to Praise – Part 1