On Excellence...

In ministry we often talk about being people that prioritize excellence. In my context as a worship pastor, that looks like playing the part absolutely correct, or hitting the entrances, exits, and cues with precision. We want to have clean, inspiring spaces that are comfortable and inviting to our people. Our parking and welcome teams should be smiling, inviting, and helpful. Our leaders should be connecting, our stage presentation should be flawless, and our follow up should be consistent.

All of this is good and necessary, but instead of focusing on excellence in the things we DO, we should first focus on excellence in WHO WE ARE.

Here are 4 characteristics of leader with an excellent spirit.

1. A leader with an excellent spirit is HUMBLE/TEACHABLE.
There are few things as frustrating as trying to deal with someone that thinks they know it all. Maintaining a humble, teachable spirit keeps us learning, keeps us seeking, and keeps us improving.

GALATIANS 6:3
"If anyone thinks they are important when they aren’t, they’re fooling themselves."

PROVERBS 12:1 (ESV)
"Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid."

I am convinced that as leaders, we should maintain the attitude that we can learn something from anyone. be open to criticism, even if it’s not delivered in the best way (See “How To Deal With Negative Criticism”).

2. A leader with an excellent spirit is MOTIVATED TO IMPROVE.
To improve you have to be honest with yourself. Understanding who you are as a leader, your strengths and weaknesses, the way you process information, and your personal rhythm are so important, understanding that God wants to work in you and change you to be more like Him. Don’t internalize the things that God might want to change in you. Saying, “I’m just a late person,” or “I just yell when I get angry,” might be true most of the time, but are not the way that God wants you to interact with the world. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the things that you’ve internalized that He might want to change.

There are many different ways to gain a more accurate understanding of your self. DiSC tests, Meyers-Briggs, Enneagram, and others are all ways to give you a snapshot of your personality and how you process things. Well worth 15-20 minutes to take a test (Check out 16 Personalities for a free Meyers-Briggs personality inventory).

3. A leader with an excellent spirit is INTENTIONAL.
An excellent life takes excellent planning. Do you have a vision for your life and ministry? What do you want to see built into your life and the lives of those around you. Nothing truly great happens by accident.

1 CORINTHIANS 3: 12-15
12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

What are you using to build your life with? God showed us INCREDIBLE intentionality in the construction of both the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple-which were both meant to host the presence of God. Today, the temple is you and I. We should approach our lives with intentionality and vision.

PROVERBS 29:18
Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it; but that it’s too low and we reach it.
— Michaelangelo

4. A leader with an excellent spirit knows how to PRIORITIZE THE IMPORTANT

A leader with an excellent spirit avoids wasting time on things that don’t matter. There are so many things to do in ministry-reaching our community, building relationships, building our families, and the list could go on and on. Let’s be people that make the most of every moment, which includes knowing how to say “no” when the need arises, remembering that God has called us to live and walk in love towards one another.

1 TIMOTHY 6:20-21 (NLT)
“Avoid godless, foolish discussions with those who oppose you with their so-called knowledge. Some people have wandered from the faith by following such foolishness”

TITUS 2:10 (NIV)
"...in every way...make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.

A leader with an excellent spirit will be a person who naturally produces things that are excellent. If we can focus on having an excellent spirit (WHO WE ARE), we will naturally do things that are excellent (WHAT WE DO). On the other hand if we focus on producing excellence without first focusing on who we are internally, we will burn out and become frustrated. Let’s be people that live with an excellent spirit!

Why Worship Matters

Worship.jpg

We all want to make the most of our time.  I've never met anyone who has said, "You know what, I really just want to waste my time doing things that don't matter."  In our podcast, youtube, online world, it's easy to catch a service, message, or even a message clip and call it good.  So, why does worship matter?  Is attending church even necessary?  Why should we "not neglect our meeting together" (Heb 10:25)?  A few thoughts:

1. Worship takes our focus off of ourselves.
Our "me-focused" existence is challenged when we worship together.  When we take dedicated time to fix our eyes on Jesus, we are reminded that it's all about Him.  When we come into the house of God to worship, we are encouraged to look to Jesus who is the real source of our strength and our hope, taking the pressure of our burdens off of us, and placing it at the foot of the cross. 

2. Worship places us in the context of the family of God.
When we worship with our church family in a service, we are surrounded by the people that make up the church or the "family of God."  We hear the people next to and behind us singing and, for a moment, we are reminded that the church is something that's bigger than us.  We are surrounded by God's people, singing God's praises, and that's a powerful thing. This is something that you can't get from a podcast or worshipping God alone in your room.  The community of faith worshipping together matters.  The story of what God has done in your life has the potential to build the faith of those around you.

3. Worship reminds us of how great God is and builds our faith.
In worship, we sing songs that are uplifting, hear testimonies that inspire our own faith, receive communion which reminds us of Jesus' sacrifice, and we hear the Word of God, which encourages us in our faith.  When we walk through trials and struggles, worship is an experience that reminds us that we're not alone, and that God is able to do "exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ask or imagine," (See Eph 3:20-21) as we live for His glory. 

4. Worship teaches us who God is.
Having a proper understanding of who God is crucial because it is out of this understanding that we process the things that happen in our lives and in our world.  The songs we sing will (hopefully) give us an understanding of God as one who is mighty, powerful, able, and above all and at the same time personal, intimate, and near.  These truths set to melodies that we sing have the potential to transform the trajectory of our lives.  

The benefits of God's people gathering together for worship are so great!  While there are no perfect churches, I am SO thankful that God works through imperfect people to encourage and build faith in my life. 

What are some ways that worship has made an impact in your life?

4 Ways to Be a Better Worship Pastor This Weekend

Every worship pastor can improve in their leadership.  There's always room to grow, do better, or serve more effectively.  Here's 4 ways to be a better worship pastor this weekend:

Pray
Pray for your people.  Take time to walk through your auditorium and pray for the people that will be filling the seats on Sunday.  Pray that they will experience the presence of God as you worship and hear the word.  Pray over your musicians, singers, and tech staff.  Ask God to meet them as they prepare for weekend ministry.  Pray that God would bless their families and give them favor in their workplaces.  Pray for your pastor-that God would fill them with his Spirit as they prepare and write their message for the weekend.  Ask God to speak to you and lead you as you lead the people in worship.  The work you do is so important. Don't neglect the true source of power for your life and ministry because you have a lot to do. 

Prepare
Do you know why you're singing the songs you're singing?  Have you spent time getting the truth of the songs into your heart? Seek God for something specific that he might want to share in your worship sets.  Take time to think/pray through your transitions.  What verse could you share?  What exactly would you feel like God is leading you to say?  Being Spirit-led and being unprepared are not the same thing.  Take time and seek God before you step on stage. 

Practice
The worship pastor should be the one that knows the music the most.  It's frustrating for everyone if the worship pastor or worship leader is unprepared musically.  Sit down and run through the songs before you get to rehearsal.  What creative elements could you bring to the songs you're singing this week?  Memorize the music so you can listen and direct without having to focus so much on playing/singing the right chords and words yourself.  It might sound weird, but the more prepared you are, the easier it will be to be spontaneous in your worship.  It takes a lot of work beforehand to be spontaneous.  When you and your team know where to go musically, you can begin to think about expanding creativity within your songs.   

Be Present
Worship pastors have a lot of things to think about on any given Sunday.  But let's not forget the main reason we're there-to shepherd God's people.  It's tempting to check out, hit the green room, and browse on your phone between services, or disconnect during the message.  Resist the urge to disconnect from your people, and get out there and greet them. Pray with them.  Hear their stories.  Show support for your pastor by sitting in the auditorium and listening to the message.  Your greatest ministry of the weekend might just be something you say to someone while you're not on the stage

Let's remember that what we do is much more than notes, chords, and lyrics.  We're in the business of life-change, of leading people to declare the truth of God's word in their lives, to look past their current reality to God's greater reality for their lives.  It's our honor and privilege to be filled with the Spirit, on our game, and ready to do whatever God may ask us to do.  Let's not neglect the "ordinary" moments of tuning our hearts each week to hear what God would say. Let's prepare the soil of our own hearts to be able to lead effectively.