About 10 years ago I started an interesting and fulfilling journey as a worship leader. It is hard to believe I have been involved in worship for 10 years and well I am still doing it, that says something. Along the way there have been a few amazing moments and a few moments I would prefer to not remember. I do however embrace all my experiences, they truley have bettered me.
Let me take you back about 13 or 15 years and tell you about how my love of music all started. I was chilling out one day when my aunt introduced me to this band called Delirious?, as I listened the sound intrigued me. It was unlike the worship music I heard at my church. There was a sense of life inside the music, something I had previously not heard. Most church music I had heard up to this point did not excite me. It was mellow, filled with minor progressions and rather bland. There was something about Martin Smith’s voice that caught my attention, I did not know it was but I liked it.
This started a fascination I had with Delirious?, the first album of theirs I bought was “King of Fools” which to this day is one my favorite records. It had a great balance of worship songs like, “History Maker”, “Sanctify”, “What a Friend I’ve Found” and great rock melodies like “Promise” & “King or Cripple”. I would over time buy nearly all of their albums except “Glo” I just couldn’t do it.
This eventually lead me to eventually start several bands. One in which I headlined along with my co-writer/creator of Culture Rev Daniel Caza called Human Compass. This occupied several years of music exploration, a few demos, an EP and a few shows. My idea of a band with inspiring worship centered music eventually became mainstream rock. The short drama less conclusion of this paragraph is that I left the band to focus on my other music love; worship.
This started a four year phase I would call the “learning years”. To date these were the fullest years. I served as a worship leader for my church, the youth group and young adult group. It was a busy time, I lead 2-3 services a week, quarterly conferences, summer camp and we traveled frequently to other churches and events. Add on to that 1-2 practices per week and many more leading up to the bigger events. I call it a learning phase because this was when I learned the in and outs, the ups and downs and the good and bad.
I learned being a worship leader is not always as easy as it seems. It’s not always glorious, especially when you are working with a group of individuals. I remember when I lead a service that seemed great and walked away feeling nothing. I felt absolutely nothing while it was happening. The response was great, everyone was really responding, everyone but seemingly me. There were times when it was work and a set list seemed like a to-do-list. I often dreaded the early Sunday service, prepping at 7:30 am wasn’t always my favorite.
The point of the above is that not every moment is going to be great or amazing. There are times when doing good doesn’t feel good. The first time you feel nothing is scary. Any time that happens I first do a self examination. I think about why I am doing this, I talk to God about his perspective and I make any changes I might need to change. At times it would be something in me but most often its was not. You wont always feel a tingly sensation or be catapulted into heavenly places. Its also okay to have an off day or even month. Not every step of the journey will be easy or even fun.
Being a little off at times is what makes us human. You might come to a realization that your time has come whether it be as a worship leader or any other leader for that matter. You might come to the realization that you need a break or just some time off. That also is really normal. As I mentioned above I was in a time where I was giving out a lot and coming changes would allow me to take a breather. Which I will get to a little later.
The first 3 or so years of this phase were truly amazing. When you are going for God and seeing change, that makes for some great times. I have so many memories and pictures stored in my mind of some real life changing conferences and moments. Moments that defined and changed me. These years grew me and as I mentioned I learned.
Near the end of these 4 years I also learned some of the bad. They honestly were not by best memories. Conflict has a way of taking the fun out of your passion. I have no intent of saying what or who was so bad from my perspective but I can say the end of this phase was filled with more conflict than it should have. The point is that too many things that were not important got in the way of the ultimate goal. When the minor insignificant details become the headline you can loose the content of the story. You can forget the previous 3 year journey and forget why you were doing it all along. At times change can cause us to loose sight or what we wanted and more damage is caused trying to figure out what went wrong. I learned that its not always easy for others to know and understand what is really going on inside yourself. Misunderstanding is dirty water. I have always had the best intentions even if that wasn’t understood. I learned to stand on my own feet. I learned my identity was not in the things that seemingly defined me, it is much deeper.
The moment you realize you can leave everything you have known, keep living and more importantly keep your identity is freeing. I knew that this phase was done. The beauty and love had left. I had fulfilled and learned everything I could at this point in time. The conflict did in no way spoil my total experience. I was influenced, taught and nurtured which was the greater picture.
This is the point of the story when the change of happens. God was taking me in a different direction. My time for change had come and I was ready to move on. In some ways the last year of this time frame really prepared and help me move on to the next stage. Without the conflict it would have been much harder for me to move to the next stage. I was still in my early 20′s and was ready to start my career in advertising. This required me and my soon to be wife to consider moving to another city. It was our best option and in 2007 I made the move to Toronto to pursue my career.
This launched me into the second stage which lasted about 1-2 years. This was the “rest stage”. I came to realize I needed some rest. I needed to find my passion again. It’s not that I had lost it, it was more dormant. This was a time where we had moved to a new place and started a new life chapter. I was really happy to not be doing worship at all. It allowed me to actually go to church and enjoy worship for the first time in about 4 years. I say that because every time I was at church I was on worship.
I really enjoyed my time of rest. After about 1 year I started to play again as part of worship teams but not as a leader. This was good because I was now in a new environment and got to learn even more. I played every few weeks but the commitment level was nice and easy, which helped me ease back into things and continue my rest.
I am now in the third phase of my 10 year journey. You could call this phase the “present” as its tough to name a phase until it is complete. Though it might be called training, as I am working on raising up new and amazing leaders. For nearly 2 years now I have been leading worship again. This time around its on a less frequent basis which is good. I learned the first time around that you need boundaries and need to have a realistic commitment level. I am pretty excited about this phase, its a really new and fresh chapter of my life. I had spent years of leading worship but I want to focus more on leading people and building lasting relationships.
I know I have not talked about my approach to worship or even said much about the music itself but I will get to that another day. I wanted to walk you through my journey. Every life journey will have its ups and downs. Think about how those experiences can be used to help and impact the people you influence with.