Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I led worship this evening at the final celebration of the college year. It really taught me a lot about how lonely a place it can be to be in that kind of leadership role. The challenges of worship leading have been something that has been on my mind a great deal over the past year as I have done more and more of this. I find it difficult to comprehend a time when I haven't played in worship, although really, before I arrived at Cliff College I hardly ever played in my home church as we have an extremely talented organist/pianist, and several others to boot who fill in when he's not around!

As a musician, I'm sure that others of you will agree that there is such an element of professionalism, ruled by perfectionism, that this often becomes a barrier to worship. I have felt this greatly this year and have taken time out in order to concentrate on what my worship is about. I struggle greatly with listening to poor quality bands and worship leading, but have had to come to terms with the fact that worship is less about whether the notes are right, and all about whether our hearts are right. For me, I find that no matter how much I try, I find I am always distracted somehow when playing. Sometimes that is simply by the most beautiful sight in the world...people praising God! However, I believe that God will work in and through me, despite what I say, play, sing or do. In my preparation, I put everything into God's hands, even if it doesn't feel like that when i'm onstage!

This evening has left me very physically, emotionally and spiritually drained. Other circumstances have of course aided this, not least that I had been on the go since 7am, and my organising brain has not stopped all day, and unfortunately, unless I expressely have someone who is capable of calming me down, then I usually get myself into a terrible fluster to the point of wanting to sit down and just cry! But, yet again, I received lovely compliments on the manner in which I led the worship. Again, something with which I struggle...I'd hate it if noone ever told me, but I struggle to receive praise, especially when I can see that things weren't by any means perfect and could have been much better tonight!

The loneliness of the worship leader is trying for someone, for whom company and support is vital. But we play for an audience of one, and I too often forget His pleasure in me using the gifts He so generously chose for me at the conception of time. This sort of leads me on to many other thoughts about music and God. I still can't get to grips with why God invented music, and why it has been such a key feature in Jewish and subsequently Christian worship? Is it for His pleasure or ours, or both? For if it is solely for His pleasure and purposes, does he delight as much in the music performed so beautifully by an atheist virtuoso as much as He delights in the worship song badly picked out on by the piano by the Christian, desperate to be able to play music to honour and worship God.

Some more thoughts...maybe the Holy Spirit is allowed more freedom to move in a tired brain!!

blessings to all, always,

Ruth x

1 comment:

James said...

Good post, very thought provoking- have been thinking about the curse of perfectionism recently (obviously not with regard to worship leading). I just wonder whether sometimes true proffessionalism rules out the element of perfectionism.

i.e. because I am a perfectionist I can be quite hard on others when it comes to their efforts falling short of the goal but perhaps a true proffessional recognises that we are all getting there and seeks to offer encouragement and support rather than criticism.

Perhaps, in a random way Pete's sermon relates to this: if you want to fly like an eagle GO work with the turkeys.