The Inadequate Worship Leader

Two years ago, when I finally confided in a close friend that I wanted to start leading worship, I immediately felt pressure to add a counterbalancing statement. In my mind, a guitarist in a worship band wanting to “step up” to lead worship could only mean one thing—they must think they’re getting too spiritually mature or vocally advanced to lead worship from just an instrument. So I quickly added, “I don’t think I’d be a great worship leader or anything. In fact, I’m deathly afraid to even try!”

My close and well-meaning friend replied, “That’s exactly the posture your heart should be in, man.”

I wasn’t lying to my friend. I was very scared. But there was truth in the initial pressure I’d felt too. I obviously did (wrongly) think my talent and spiritual maturity were outgrowing my current role of service. I mean, who in the world never thinks they’re better than they actually are?

But at the same time, I was also battling with the inverse. I thought I wasn’t good enough of a singer or wasn’t holy enough, and I truly was scared to move to a more spotlit role. I came to “the table” of worship leading, ready to feast on either my overconfidence or my incapability—either my haughtiness or my inadequacy. So at the sound of my buddy’s high praise, I decided on the latter. I thought it must be a sign of a broken and contrite spirit to consider myself inadequate or incapable.

The problem I wasn’t noticing might be the same problem you have with this story right now—it’s all about me. All that mattered to me was my posture, my sincerity, my pride, my reputation, my position. I wasn’t asking the important questions: How will my being a worship leader affect my community and those I’m leading in worship? What are the unique ways I am equipped to turn people’s eyes to the glory of God? Do I love to worship Jesus? These questions sat on the back burner while I was feasting away on this pathetic strain of false humility.

Inadequate feelings are not rooted in humility. They are rooted in just as much pride as feelings of overconfidence. By emphasizing my inadequacy, I figured out a way to get people to affirm me, all the while thinking of myself more often than God or anyone else. I became consumed with how lacking I was.

Praise God, the gospel takes us further than inadequacy and incapacity. Jesus doesn’t leave us in our weakness, but He makes His power perfect in it. He nails our inadequacy to the cross. I’m not saying that we can be all powerful if we just believe in Jesus. However, living in insecurity is not a sign of Jesus being our security. If I look at my inadequacy and don’t immediately see the cross, odds are, I’ve pulled it down and put it back on myself, and that’s not liberating at all.

God doesn’t look at me and see inadequacy anymore. He sees the sufficiency of Jesus. God knows that His Son is sufficient to be loved, befriended, begotten, exalted. So, why on earth would I feel inadequate?

Here are some new questions I want to start asking myself that can replace the self-deprecating, self-centered ones:

  1. Do I love to worship Jesus?
  2. Is He with me?
  3. Is He sufficient?
  4. Do I love to see people surprised by all that God is for them in Jesus?
  5. Whose heart can I lead into worship today?
  6. What particular aspects of Jesus would they benefit from the most? What good news about Jesus do they need to be reminded of today?
  7. How can I pray for them?

I no longer want to grovel in self-worth issues as I lead worship or in self-anything for that matter. I want to be trusting in, focused on, grateful for, and empowered by the blood of Jesus. I have no other need.

 

Wes Ardis

About Wes Ardis

Wes lives in South Austin with his wife, Sarah, and daughter, Emerald. He serves as band director and lead guitarist for Jimmy McNeal, and is a resident in the Austin Stone Worship studio with Kyle Lent.