“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, To see Your power and Your glory. Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, My lips will praise You. So I will bless You as long as I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name. My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.” – Psalms 63:1-5
Worship is more than just music. Those known as “worship leaders” should know this better than anyone. Leading worship is leading people in a lifestyle; an attitude; a state of heart and mind. But we recognize that the word “worship leader” is generally used to refer to one who leads in musical worship during corporate local church (or para-church) gatherings. We should not split hairs over this title as long as we understand that the pastors/elders of a church (the ones who bear the chief responsibility of leading and shepherding the sheep) are most responsible for leading the people in worship. They are the main worship leaders. I don’t say this to in any way belittle the responsibility of a musical worship leader; I say it to remind anyone in a pastoral role of their mutual responsibility to lead others in a lifestyle of worship. The more responsiblity one has in leading others, the more responsible they are to lead them in worship. Anyone in any type of Christian leadership is automatically more responsible to lead others in worship; to be a worship leader.
Many leaders who may lead in bible study, small group, evangelism, prayer, preaching, teaching, etc. (especially preaching pastors) may excuse themselves from the responsibility of leading in worship just because they are not known as “worship leaders.” But surely that is a fatal mistake. For example, it is absolutely essential that teachers of God’s word lead the people of God to go beyond comprehension of God’s word to a cherishing of God’s word. This kind of worship (the cherishing of God’s word) should be their ultimate aim. It’s not as though the teacher’s responsibility is to cram their minds with understanding and leave the “worship” up to the “worship leader.” God is not glorified by merely being accurate understood, but by our being so sufficietnly satisfied and pleasured by what we understand that we are full of joy and praise. Preachers must not simply aim at condmning the sins our our culture or of the church (though we see a great lack of this to our own destruction), they must chiefly aim at exalting God as the inexhaustibly glorious supreme being of the universe. They should have a transparent love for the truth of God they are preaching so that the people can see they feed their souls on God’s truth. They should preach God as the alternative to sin. Evangelists should not make hellfire damnation their main emphasis in sharing the gospel. Rather, they should make their point of emphasis God’s glory in Jesus Christ (though they cannot be separated—they can be distinguished). Evangelists ought to teach others to do evangelism unbegrudgingly; in a spirit of worship rather than a spirit of “we have to do this or people will go to Hell.” We should evangelize with this spirit: “We are privileged with the great pleasure of spreading the praises of the glorious grace of God in the gospel.” Those who lead in prayer should lead with a passion which communicates the supremacy of God in the way they pray. No Christian leader is exempt from a special responsibility to lead others in worship.
All Christians are ought to be worship leaders by example. People learn from others very early in life where they can find enter- tainment for thir souls. By our example we should be demonstrating to others where to go in order to have the thirst of their soul’s satisfied. It should be obvious to those who know us that we seek our satisfaction in life from knowing Christ and cultivating our relationship with Him. There are many ways we communicate this. When others see that we avoid sin at all costs, this demonstrates to them that God is our cheif joy because we are ready to give up anything which hinders the quality of our relationship to Him. If we are always speaking of Chirst, people will see that He is what we love most; but if we enjoy talking about sports, trival matters of entertainment, the latest celberty news, cars, polotics, our boyfriend/girlfriend, etc. more than we enjoy talking about the things of God–it will surely convince people as a dead giveaway to where our hearts are really at. We should live in such a way that others not only see that our hearst are consumed with the things of God (and that all else is rubbish in comparison), but that God makes us so happy in Him that we are not looking to find our joy in others things. We should seek our satisfaction solely in God, becasue only He is dependable. The stock market may crash, terrorists may blow up our country, our loved ones may perish unexpectedly, our jobs may be taken away from us, even our own lives on earth may vansih as a vapor–but God is our hope; our life; our only certainty; our sure source of joy; the umovable ancor of our souls; and unshakable foundation of peace. Though all else in this life may and indeed eventually will certainly be taken away from us, nothing can separate us from the love of God. Are we living in such a way as to make it obvious to others that our hope is only in God? Does our life scream to others, “Come here to drink, for all other fountains are incomparable and unworthy of our devotion!”?
There is a sense in which everyone worships (even unbelievers) because everyone seeks to be happy. Everyone judges the value of things based on how helpful they are in obtaining happiness. Part of what it means to worship something is to trust in it for satisfaction in life. I used to worship money, sex, drugs, music, and many other unworthy things. This was my lifestyle of worship. I assigned too much value to these things in their ability to give me happiness. They all let me down and destroyed my life (just as the scripture says, Galatians 6:7). By example, I taught others to drink from the fountain of sin in order to obtain the goal of happiness—all to their destruction. After tasting of the Lord’s living water, I have not desired to turn back and drink from other fountains. They are like broken cisterns. I have long since been satisfied by the water of this new well. The water from this new well quenches far better the thirst of my soul. It is the supreme fountain because it satisfies supremely. If biblical worship is coming to the divine well and satisfying our souls on the Glory of God in Christ Jesus through the gospel, then let us indulge ourselves at this fountain while leading others to it, and let us channel the waters of this fountain to every area of our hearts and lives—for only then will we know joy in all its fullness; only then will maximize our pleasure in quenching our thirst for this all-satisfying water. If we as Christian leaders care about quenching the thirst of the souls of others, we will seek to be as full of this living water as we can possibly be, that it might overflow and spill out on others. This water and this water alone is able to give the soul everlasting pleasure.