Today’s post comes from Jamie Kocur. Jamie is a singer, songwriter and self-identified recovering worship leader who shares her insights at rebootingworship.com. Once you’ve had a chance to read some of her story here, please take the time to drop by her site. I promise it’s worth your time.
The music used to really move me.
Any time I set foot in a contemporary worship setting, I was completely swept away. My hands rose as high as they could, I closed my eyes tight and shut the world out, and the Holy Spirit felt like it pumped through my veins.
It was awesome.
God blessed me with a voice, and I longed to be on stage, singing for His glory. I volunteered with my church choir and praise band, and eventually took a part time worship leader position. I majored in music, and received a church music degree from Florida State University. I enjoyed being on stage, in the spotlight, using my voice to lead everyone into the presence of Jesus.
Worship was going to be my life. Then something changed.
I wasn’t sure what changed at first. All I knew was that what used to inspire, move, and energize me left me feeling empty and cynical. The worship that used to be so meaningful now seemed like one big show. I became sensitive to the performance aspect of it all and cringed when vocalists sang like they were on American Idol. I wanted nothing to do with the music that used to reach so deep in my soul. I left services frustrated, wiping away angry tears. I felt empty. I walked away from worship leading. I just couldn’t do it anymore.
I knew I needed to process through the gunk. So I began to write. I’ve been writing for a couple of years now, and I’m happy to say that I’ve dug deep enough to uncover a few key elements.
1) I was getting swept away in the emotional high.
Worship music contains a certain element of emotionalism. I became too focused on the high. I reduced worship to a warm fuzzy, a pick-me-up. I think God took that feeling away to teach me a few things. When it was gone, I wasn’t sure how to worship.
2) Church politics.
I watched the church I love make some decisions that I couldn’t support. Some dear friends were deeply hurt by these decisions. I wasn’t directly impacted, but I still felt betrayed and hurt. I had a hard time opening up and being vulnerable after that. I’m still learning to forgive and let go.
3) As an introvert, it’s hard to fully engage in energetic contemporary worship.
I’m settling into my introverted shell more as I grow older. Things that I used to enjoy in my young, more energetic teenage years don’t appeal to me anymore. When I’m expected to clap and sing as loud as I can, I shut off. That’s not genuine worship for me. I prefer quieter, more intimate settings now.
Where do I go from here? I’m learning that it’s okay if I don’t connect in the usual contemporary worship service. Just because my hands aren’t raised does not mean I love Jesus any less. I have other ways that I connect with and love on Him; writing, taking long walks in a park, photography.
I still use music in worship, but for this moment, it’s not on stage. My soul finds peace as I sit on the floor in my music room, strumming my guitar and writing simple songs. I still sing and long to use my voice for God’s glory, but not as a contemporary worship leader. And that’s okay. Perhaps one day I will be back on stage, leading a congregation in worship, but for this season, I’m content to stay in the shadows, out of the spotlight.
Jesus is there too.