Disclaimer: I wrote this post a few months ago. Since some details might have seemed directed at team members, I was advised and agreed that it would be best to let it sit for a while. I couldn’t tell you at this point who else was on the team besides me and my wife. I couldn’t tell you at this point who other team members may or may not have been, which is a good thing. It gives a better perspective, because in the end it wasn’t really about what they were doing, but really about what God was doing with me and what he continues to do. So, I apologize in advance if you were on my team that week and feel offended. Better yet, email me and let me know. We can work it out! On to the post….
Pardon me if this post seems blunt in its conclusion. It comes from long experience. I led worship last week, and I have to say, it felt rough to me, all the way around. The trouble started early in the week – Monday, in fact. Here’s what a week looks like at my church – generally, the worship leader for that week will contact the team on Sunday or Monday to schedule practice time. Most of the time it’s on Thursday evening, but every so often, a team member or two will request a different day – usually Saturday. So there’s the first hiccup. Thursday is fine for most, except one who prefers Saturday, if possible. Unfortunately, most can’t do Saturday, so we just move practice a little later on Thursday, only to find out one team member is out of town and can’t make Thursday, but also can’t do Saturday til later, which I can’t do because of a prior engagement.
Unfortunately, though some members might be able to slide , I don’t feel comfortable with this team member being on the team if they can’t make it to the practice, so I have to cut this person from the team that week. This Tuesday is the day we have new speakers professionally installed – something we’ve sorely need for at least a couple of years now. Although this is a positive overall, it requires some EQ adjustments to the system and takes a little time for the sound team to get used to.
When we arrive on Thursday, I decide it would be nice to unwind by testing out the new speakers at a high volume. For me, some Zeppelin does the trick – Black Dog to be specific. My wife, who is on my team, doesn’t feel as relaxed as I do and tells me to turn it down. Finally, it’s practice time. Knowing I will not have a full drum kit, I bring my acoustic guitar, along with my electric, although I prefer to play my electric at least 99.95% of the time. And now here’s where things start to weigh on me. I go through at least 45 minutes of frustration, trying to figure out why my acoustic won’t put sound into the system. Must be a bad battery in my inline tuner. Nope. Pickup battery. Nope. Cable. Nope. Finally, I figure something’s wrong with my pickup and I decide to play my electric the whole set. By this time, I’m wound up and not in a good mood.
Normally, we try to leave room as a team to check in with each other and pray for each other as needed at the beginning of practice. I decide to skip that part because we’re running so late already, planning on having the time at the end. Then comes practicing our actual set. One of our sound men was there to adjust the speakers, and I’m being told I need to turn my amp down. Sigh.
By the end of practice, everything felt like a dog-pile. I was spent and frustrated, and once I said we were done playing, half the band cleared out, and we just let the prayer time go. Sunday morning didn’t start much better. One band member overslept and missed more than half of our pre-service run-through and missed running through half the songs. I wish I could say the morning felt better, but it didn’t. And yet it was clear from feedback after service that Jesus clearly met with a few people. I wish I could say I felt it, but honestly, I didn’t. I guess now is as good a time as any to stop. I could go on, but I’m sure this type of situation is familiar enough to anyone who’s led worship before. When it comes down to it, whether it’s the norm or it’s a rarity, you WILL have a morning like this, and possibly a lot worse. I’ve certainly had much worse than this. How do I deal with it?
Really, it’s no different from anything else in life. I’m happy to say I didn’t take the immature path and either take it out on my team or my wife, which I’ve done plenty of in the past. As much as I believe that worship time is about connecting in an emotional and / or sub-conscious way with God, there are days that emotions are just not a good basis for the morning. The fact is, God really did show up in positive ways, even though I didn’t feel it.
- It turns out the song I opened with tied directly into the sermon. I had no idea that was going to happen, but it was VERY meaningful to the guy preaching that day. It was something he really needed – truly Jesus saying “I love you” to him.
- Recently, we lost a long time member of our congregation. She passed away and it was hard on a lot of people in our church. One of the people who was very close to her and was feeling the pain of that situation deeply said that morning’s worship touched her very deeply.
This is when I realize that although I love leading worship and get a lot out of it personally, there will be days that I don’t and it’s still my privilege to serve on those days. I get to “suck it up” and give it everything I have, because in the end, I’m not the focus. Jesus is, and I’m happy for it.
So how about you? How you do you deal with THOSE weeks? How do you get up and do it again?