Do You Need to Feel It to Lead It?

The most common comment I get as a pastor and worship leader is, “I don’t know how you get up in front of people week after week, having something meaningful to say or lead with.”

I usually respond in a way that catches people off guard. “Well, I don’t. I can’t.”

Joel Houston leading worshipYes, it’s true sometimes I get on stage to read Scripture, sing a song, or preach a message, and the stage is the last place I want to be. I don’t feel inspired. I don’t sense that I have anything meaningful to say. But I go up there anyway.

Some might call this inauthentic. I’ve heard other pastors say that a preacher must approach the pulpit as an inspired messenger of God or they should step down—let someone else lead instead.

Here’s two quick thoughts on why I completely disagree with the idea that you need to feel it to lead it.


About 15 years ago I went to a Q&A with Chris Tomlin (before he was CHRIS TOMLIN!) and someone asked him this exact question: “Chris, how do you feel inspired to lead worship when you do it almost every day?” Chris responded by saying, “To be honest, quite often I despise the idea of taking the stage, but without fail, God always meets me in the moment. It is leading worship that leads me to worship sometimes.”

You may not always have the fire burning within, but you can trust that God will meet you in the moment of your need.

The Perfection Mirage

What does it look like to be fully inspired to lead? Is there a moment when someone realizes God has fully prepared them to lead in a particular moment? I think perfection is a mirage that we all too often worship. Perfection is something that simply never comes.

You’re never 100% ready to lead God’s people. There’s always more you could do to prepare your heart and mind. At some point you have to go for it. Take the plunge. Is there person who’s “feeling it” really that much more godly than the one who isn’t?

I hope churches constantly fight for those serving in various forms of leadership to do so from an overflow of the heart. But I also hope churches also recognize God can and will work with anyone who is willing to step up and step out, whether they feel it or not.