It is easy for women to experience confusion in their roles as worship leader and/or background vocalists in the Church. Oftentimes, we simply believe that our role doesn’t matter at all.
The longer God allows me to lead worship and shepherd at The Austin Stone, the more I am convinced that He has called me to be here to actually lead His people. I have heard it clearly from Him and seen it in His Word.
There are plenty of lies that female worship leaders can believe but I want to take some time to specifically address four lies that we believe as the women that have been called into worship leadership.
I am praying this will encourage you and hopefully validate some of what you hear God saying to you in this season of ministry.
Lie #1: I Am Not a "Leader."
Gosh, this is a huge lie that I have heard and battled in my role as a worship leader. You must know that God considers you a leader among His people and that is not something to take lightly. On any given Sunday, God has entrusted to us the calling of serving and being faithful with that call.
Leading God’s people in worship is not just singing – whether you are a background vocalist or you are leading out on a song, remember that you are leading people who are coming in beaten down, depressed, joyful, stressed, full of faith, confused or unbelieving to see Jesus for who He is and to worship Him rightly.
God says through Paul in Ephesians 2:10 that “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared before hand, that we should walk in them.” From this passage, you can trust that God hasn’t made a mistake in putting you before His people week to week. He has prepared for you to play a role in worshiping Him!
Lie #2: What I Do Offstage Doesn't Matter.
I think something that often falls by the wayside is the idea that what we do in our “ordinary-Monday-through-Saturday-lives” doesn’t matter. This is a big lie and Satan wants you to believe it.
The enemy wants us to believe that what we do at our 9-5 jobs or when we think no one is watching doesn’t have any bearing on what we do on Sundays. The truth is, whether you realize it or not, the people you lead see you and know you beyond Sundays. Living “above reproach” goes hand in hand with dying to self, and this is important for all believers, especially leaders in the local church. Satan is looking to take you down.
God told Cain in Genesis 4:7, “Sin is crouching at your door. It’s desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”
We have to put boundaries in place to protect ourselves, our reputations and our ministries. For women this will look like evaluating ourselves day-to-day:
- What am I wearing to work or to dinner with friends?
- How do I speak and act toward friends and strangers?
- Do I spend time in the Word daily?
- Am I honoring my husband and kids?
- Do I speak respectfully of my church?
When we take our church’s stage, we are saying with our presence that we agree with our church’s beliefs and convictions and that we support our leadership.
We don’t want to be like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day calling people to holiness and not begging the Spirit for it in ourselves. Know this: sin is crouching at your door and it’s desire is for you to pledge allegiance to it, but God’s desire is for your life to be His and for you to value and seek godliness.
This is as beneficial for you as it is for the people you’re leading. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 4:8, “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
Lie #3: I Don't Need to Know Theology.
It’s easy for a female worship leader to believe that if the worship pastor has been doing his homework she can coast through. This is completely false! Theology is the study of who God is. We cannot lead people to know a God that we do not know ourselves.
In our worship leader development program we really stress this discipline because we believe that a worship leader has as much responsibility to know the Word and character of God as a preaching pastor. Without this knowledge we don’t know who we are singing to, praying to, or writing songs about.
Imagine you are planning a trip to China and you meet with someone to hear about their experience there. You come ready to learn what you should expect as a visitor, ready to hear about the people that live there, only to get to your meeting and learn that this person has never actually been to China. That would be pretty disappointing and unhelpful to say the least.
That’s a silly example but I really want us to understand that as women who are declaring and prompting people to cling to the truths of God in song we must know the truths of God in our hearts. You’re bound to have women come to you on a Sunday in need of encouragement or wisdom or counsel. There is no better counsel than the Word of God – we can’t lead out of anything else!
Lie #4: I Don't Need to Prepare For a Sunday.
I have heard some women say that on Sundays they show up, sing, and go home. I pray that we don’t settle into that when God has so much more for us as leaders. Part of leadership is preparing to be before your people and while you may not be leading a band or planning a set list you can absolutely be engaged in the preparation leading up to Sundays.
Something I ask our female worship leaders to do every week is read over the Scripture that will be taught and pray for the people that will be coming to hear the Word. If you have access to this information each week I would encourage you to use it to help you prepare.
Ask your worship pastor which Scripture will be taught each week and take some time to ask God to center your heart on it. You want to step on stage knowing what you are pointing people toward and seeking to believe it yourself. Also, spend time during the week praying for people in your church. Ask God to move in hearts that week to prepare people to hear truth on Sunday, pray against spiritual attack on their behalf, ask God to bring people through those doors who have never heard the gospel, and pray for wisdom and preparation for your pastors.
We are more than just singers. We are daughters of God and active participants in His mission. We have the honor and responsibility to fight for our church family each week both onstage and off.