Full-Time Worship Leader

A few weeks ago I led the morning worship gatherings at Sunset and shared some of what I’ll say in this post. Over the summer I had the stark realization that I had become a full-time worship leader and a part-time follower of Christ. I lead worship a lot. Most weeks I am on stage over 20 hours a week, for 4 different weekly gatherings. It kind of feels like being on tour, except it isn’t a month long.

I had become more focused on what I did than who I was.

I think this is easy to do: to become lost in how we work out our salvation before focusing on who our salvation comes from. Coming to this realization was extremely hard, because it showed me how far away from Christ-centered I had gotten.

I know I’m not alone in this. Many of us have at some point gotten good at faking things by becoming “excellent” at what we do without even thinking about why we do it. Or we’re good at looking like we have our spiritual life all in order, when the reality is quite the opposite.

As this became clear over a vacation I took in August I made a very focused effort to do this school year different.

It meant watching less sports, reading fewer blogs, using Twitter/Facebook less, it meant sacrificing some time with friends and my wife (yes, my wife too), but it also meant that the main thing would be the main thing in my life. I’m taking extra time to do reading outside of my required reading for school. I’m waking up earlier to read the Bible and spend time in prayer before I start my day. To do more of that has meant sacrificing other things. I simply cannot be a truly successful worship leader if I’m not leading from a heart of worship.

I heard Craig Groeschel say, “The difference between where you are and where God wants you to be is the pain you are unwilling to endure.”

Those words pierced me when I heard them. For me it meant sacrificing the time outside of work that I hoard to myself instead of giving it to God. My job has such a high level of responsibility week in and week out that I tend to come home and spend a few hours wasting away. I had gotten really good about being intentional with my time at work but not at home.

In the end, our lives are not our own, they were bought for a high price.

And we should be living lives that are first focused on Him, after that we then figure out how life continues in a way that honors Him.

I’d welcome your reaction to this.

  • http://www.belovedspear.org Beloved Spear

    The heart-of-worship issue the key question. Are you worshiping when you lead worship?

    When I’m preparing a sermon or a message, it’s not work. It’s preparing my heart for worship. Though I don’t make preaching about myself, if I’m not convicted by what I’m saying, then it’s a spoken word performance, not an interpretation of the Word. That’s true for my Praise Team leadership, liturgists, and everyone who participates in a service of worship. It’s an outflow of your joy in God’s grace, not a product.

    • http://manofdepravity.com Tyler

      I see your point, but honestly I simply cannot be enveloped in worship at all moments when I’m on stage. Much of the time I don’t want to be on stage leading people, but worshiping gets me into worship (yeah, I know that doesn’t really make sense). I’m also focused on leading the band well, and making sure I did what I said I would do for the tech team and other vocalists. All those other details are a higher priority so the congregation can worship, even if I have to focus on some key details. I hope for moments of peace and worship within a set, but never the entire thing.

      • http://betanarrative.blogspot.com Dan

        I’m with Tyler on this one, re: not being able to fully worship while leading. That’s why those extra early mornings, cutting other things out, and preparing when we’d rather be out with friends are so important. The overflow will come, even if the leader has his hand in 10 different things to make sure everything runs smoothly for the congregation, band and techs.

        I loved the post. Lots of truth in it, for sure. And as I’m sure others have said, you’re not alone.

  • http://www.unfetteredbloke.com Nathan

    Love your transparency here Tyler. I’m not a worship leader but I can’t imagine how hard of a job that is week in and week out, having to lead others in worship when sometimes you must feel like crawling in a corner.

    Love that quote by Groeschel though. Following God requires sacrifice and that’s something very few of us are willing to do because it typically involves giving up our time and sometimes our money – neither of which are ours to begin with. Great thoughts and great reminder to me today.

  • dk

    Awesome what God is doing in your life brother. Equally awesome picture of you and Rose.

    • http://manofdepravity.com Tyler

      Thanks Dave, Rose looks a lot better than me though 🙂

  • Brad

    I continue to be impressed by your thoughtfulness and insight. I am reading a book called Radical, taking your faith back from the American dream by David Platt and he speaks to the kind of things you are talking about here. Are we really dedicated to Christ or are we dedicated to American church? He uses examples of visiting some forbidden, outlaw churches in Asia and what those people are willing to risk and give up in order to worship Jesus Christ. Are we willing to give up the safety and security and material things that this culture gives us to risk everything, drop everything and actually follow Christ…Thanks for continuing to share YOUR story…

    • http://manofdepravity.com Tyler

      Appreciate that Brad.

  • http://www.contentunderpressure.net Josh

    This sounds like my life a lot of the time, man….a Mary and Martha kinda deal. The excellence in the doing is great until it becomes the desire for perfection, but sitting at the feet of Jesus is best. He always values relationship first.

    ‘Preciate your sharing on this…it’s an encouragement to me, if no one else.

  • http://mikeruel.wordpress.com Mike Ruel

    Very transparent and honest post, thank you. The gospel requires our hearts be laid bare before the one who knows our hearts anyway!

    We cannot serve God well if we are not serving out of the overflow of our hearts – we need that daily personal time with him and his word in solitude – seeking Jesus! Praying to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Do we have that time? If not, it’s a recipe for burn out…



    • http://manofdepravity.com Tyler

      Yep, absolutely. And I was getting to that point Mike, hence these big changes I’ve made over the past 2 months.

  • your wife

    YOU look great on stage. 🙂

  • http://jacobriggs.wordpress.com Jacob

    Hey man, keep being sensitive to the Holy Spirit. I’m always glad to see that!

  • http://rkweblog.com Rich Kirkpatrick

    This is wonderful, and honest. I think any “professional Christian” gets to this place quickly where the output level is more than the input level. I have been here. Ouch.

    So, bless you in your efforts. The key question for is whether or not this is “work” to love God, or a response of our lives out of his love for us. I love to work. I am still attempting to answer that question as I write this.

  • http://www.springdaleworship.com Matt McDougal

    The Lord has shown me the same thing recently. Appreciate your honesty and humility to share. I spend so much time preparing to lead others in worship and creating media/content that I don’t spend time in prayer and the Word like I should. Which is ultimately fruitless. My time at home is also unfocused and unintentional, because I’m pushing so hard during the week. Darrin Patrick said “Overworking leads to overcomforting” on twitter this week. Great quote for those of us who tend to push hard. We have to remember it’s all about prayer and ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4). Thanks again for sharing bro.