When was the last time you left worship feeling satisfied and moved with compassion? How long ago was it, that after a worship set you were motivated to do something you were dreading or couldn’t bring yourself to do?

These were some questions I was reflecting on while sharing my heart with Noah, my fiancé.

Even for a worship leader worship is hard and messy, because worship is agreeing with God about the questionable behaviors and traits you’re unsure about.

What is Worship

How many times have you read the Bible and thought to yourself, Jesus you’re better than me; I wouldn’t have responded that way.? Too many times can I personally testify to. It’s difficult to agree that Jesus handled all situations perfectly, even though he did. I’m unsure that I like all of Jesus’ qualities, even though He is good and perfect. I’m not sure I want to be completely like him at times, but I know that is what He designed me for. I like to call these hesitancies, disagreements because it is my soul putting up a fight against God. But disagreements are necessary for true and authentic worship because worship is agreeing with ALL of it. Everything he is, and everything he says is real. Worship is an agreement, and truly, that is difficult at times.

Being honest about the disagreements that hide in your thoughts, feelings, and motives is where worship begins to be transformative, but the key is giving the Holy Spirit access to them. David was the messiest and most trophied worshipper of all because he was transparent about his un-renewed soul, yet willing to give God access to it.

Search me, O God, and know my heart;

Try me, and know my anxieties;

And see if there is any wicked way in me,

And lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalms 139: 23-24

David verbally invited the Holy Spirit to try him, so he would become aware of his anxieties. Worship is allowing yourself to be persuaded by the Lord, in order to bring you to obedience. It’s not worshiping when we neglect to persuade ourselves that the way Jesus tells us to respond is only acceptable. Worship is trying to understand why the Lord requires what he does, and joining in on it.

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Don’t forget your baggage at the door

From my experience working with worship teams throughout the years, I have seen many people leave their life at the door, walk up on a platform, and worship in song. Some days worship can feel more burdensome than light and empowering. Then I realize that those are the days where I leave the internal conflicts at the door.

Often, I fail to realize that I even left something at the door. I normalized ignoring my internal conflictions that it had just become habitual. My worship became dry, redundant, dull, and lacking God’s inspiration. I wanted to quit after leaving the stage so many times still feeling empty.

It wasn’t that God wasn’t speaking to me, but rather that I discluded him from my personal life. There was so much he could’ve said to encourage me, that I didn’t allow him to say because I didn’t give him access to the beliefs and perspectives he desperately wanted to correct.

Worship that fails to be transformative is self-seeking. It bends the truth. It works around your thoughts and enthrones your feelings. And it’s always the worship sets and services that you leave having gained nothing. In these sets, I find myself reserving myself for my own good and not laying myself down for the Lord. Truly, what he requires is that my old self is crucified with him (Romans 6:6) so that I can experience the fullness and the benefits of the spirit.

What transformative worship looks like daily

Let me give you a very practical example of what transformational worship looks like on a daily basis. Please note that transformational worship can happen anywhere. It is simply a conversation that happens with you and the Lord when you give him access to you completely.

Several months ago, I had a very difficult time getting along with someone I know (let’s call her Lisa for the sake of privacy). This person is valuable and close to a friend of mine, so there was a lot of pressure and stress to get along with Lisa in order to have a good relationship with my friend. Internally I was dealing with rejection from Lisa and hadn’t quite handled that yet. Therefore, the interaction between Lisa and I was very tense and uncomfortable. When prompted by the Holy Spirit to be kind to Lisa, I internally felt anger and anything but kindness. Even though I understand and agree that the only right way to respond is with kindness, I was internally wrestling with hatred. So I and the Holy Spirit had a little disagreement.

Me: Lord I know you want me to be kind, but you know what she did was wrong! If I am kind she will think everything is good between us, and I have a serious problem with her and how she treated me.

Holy Spirit: Be kind and compassionate and forgive her (Eph. 4:32) Go and tell her of her fault, between you and her alone. If she listens to you, you have gained your sister back. (Matthew 18:15)

Me: Holy Spirit, thank you, but what if she doesn’t listen again? I am scared of sharing my feelings again. She will think they are evil and that I am intentionally being ridiculous. I am scared of being humiliated and rejected again.

Holy Spirit: You don’t have to be afraid. I have accepted you in the beloved, as you are. You are not broken or unhealthy; you are a new creation. I have made you whole and I believe you are whole. My thoughts are higher than all men, and I think highly of you. Go confront them. It is the right thing to do. I want to be closer to you and this is how we do that. I’m right here the entire time.

This was an actual conversation that I had with the Lord about Lisa. Even though I have yet to talk to her, after being honest and vulnerable with the Lord I feel empowered to do something that I once feared to do. True transformational worship. Jesus totally confronted Pharisees and sinners without fear. I can absolutely do the same. Worship is supposed to feel empowering and encouraging, and the Holy Spirit wants to touch you. From the inside out. The next time you leave a worship set or service feeling empty, I highly encourage you to pray for the leaders and check to see if you left your baggage at the door.

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