Interview with Laura Story
“And I say that someone that chooses worship in the midst of the hard things in life—that pushes…that preaches louder than any sermon. That instills truth better than any song that they could ever write.”
WL: How do you balance your time in order to hear from God, lead and write worship that matches up with where your congregation Perimeter is headed, still go on the road, take care of your child and keep your relationship with your husband fresh?
LS: In the past couple months I’ve been working at all those different roles that I play and trying to figure out which of these roles are the ones that God’s called me to. Because sometimes, you find something you enjoy doing something you’re good at, and it can take over your life. The good news is I know that God has only called me to have a finite amount of roles. A great example: This morning I was writing string parts for our service for next weekend, for our church. And I love writing string parts. It is one of my favorite things to do, yet it’s not something that I have to do. We have a ton of people in our church that could do that well. And so it’ is knowing when to hand that over and remembering at all times that there is a ton of worship leaders out there. There’s a ton of artists out there, but there’s only one wife to Martin and only one mom to Josie and always remembering, to be who God’s called me to be in those arenas. And that God would never call me to a ministry that would be to the detriment of my family.
WL: Well, what makes it hard to hand over the strings? Is it a sense of, “This is what brings me joy, and I don’t want to let go of this?”
LS: Yes, mostly that. I love my job at Perimeter and I’d be happy if I just did my job at Perimeter. I could fill up my entire day having coffee with women at Perimeter. And I would love it. There’s nothing that brings me greater joy than sitting down with the women of our church and hearing what God’s doing in our lives and helping them along on their paths. But as God has called me, to this more national ministry, it’s really hard for me to step away from Perimeter sometimes, even though I have their blessing… It’s hard for me because of how much I enjoy so many facets of all of my jobs. It really is, “God just ’cause I can do this, and just ’cause I love to do this, which of these roles have you called me to in this season in my life?”
WL: Many times as a worship leader, you’re just handed a job description, a list of duties, which could be different in each church. Are you’re saying you have to get that list from God?
LS: Well, I think it’s a little bit of both. I’ve been at Perimeter for eight years now, which strangely enough it is fairly long for a worship leader to be at a church. I know that that sounds crazy. But it still is the case. And I can think of times at Perimeter where I’ve done jobs that were less fulfilling for me, but even those jobs I felt called to. ‘Cause whether it felt or feels fulfilling right then at the moment, the thing I did know without a shadow of a doubt is that God had called me to Perimeter and that God had given me some gifts where I could serve and meet some needs in an area that maybe weren’t long term solutions. For instance, we have a choir this weekend and we are without a choir director right now, so I will be directing the choir. I’m terrible at directing the choir, but I’m stepping in and saying, alright God, this is what you need me to do right now. And it’s more about just the availability and saying, “Okay God, I’m willing to do whatever it is that serves the church, during this season”—And so figuring out a way to do that without completely over-committing myself.
WL: What roles or jobs do you think are most important as a worship leader?
LS: As the music servants of our church, our greatest job is to be listening to our parishioners. What is their voice? What is it that they need to be saying to God? And that’s going to look different for different churches. What’s your preacher preaching about? What’s does he feel is the direction of the church needs to go? Because if the message in the songs aren’t tied together, then you’re giving the congregation mixed messages. And we’re lucky if they walk out remembering what we talked about.
WL: Has being in the media spotlight and winning awards changed your relationship to the people in your local congregation? How do you keep things in perspective?
LS: Well, at my church, I’m just Laura. There are people who come visit and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, that’s Laura Story.” And they say, “No that’s just Laura.” When I go other places, they, have the bottled water for me and stuff like that. At my church I’m the one that has to get the bottled water for people. So I’m just part of the church there. As far as the awards and stuff: At first it freaked me out a little bit. But as I’ve prayed through it, I think it’s an opportunity to showcase what God has done in my life, to showcase what God has done in my family, I welcome that opportunity. Whether it’s winning a Grammy or a Dove Award or whether it’s going through a hard trial, whatever brings attention to God in my life, I support it. Winning the Grammy was a very bizarre situation. It was a crazy, crazy scene, but I also got to stand up in front of secular publications and talk about the reason that I sing, about the reason why I write songs. And so any award and the accolades as long as it is an opportunity for me to point towards what God—not what I’ve done—what God’s done in my life, then, then it really is a treat to get to give him the glory and his moment.
WL: Any last words for worship leaders?
LS: I would say, there is always a sweet spot in my heart, a special place in my heart for worship leaders. Because I believe that they’re very much in the trenches and there’s a call to be in the spotlight at these churches, not to make much of us, but to make much of God. The one thing that that I’ve learned is that God put me in this position of worship leading at my church at the same time that he allowed me to walk through some hard trials in my life. And I don’t think that that was a coincidence. I believe that when we as worship leaders walk through the trials of life, it’s so that our congregation can see us worship in the midst of the trial. I meet with so many worship leaders that feel like throwing in the towel because things have gotten hard. Things have gotten hard at their church. Things have gotten hard in their lives. And I want to say, “No, no, this is the shining moment. This is when God will teach your congregation to worship him in the midst of trials—because they see you doing it.” And I say that someone that chooses worship in the midst of the hard things in life, that pushes, that preaches louder than any sermon. That instills truth, better than any song that they could ever write. It’s God showcasing himself as being the one that’s worthy of worship in every season of our life. So I, I encourage worship leaders to hang in there and to continue. Not just to plan great worship services, but to continue to worship God. Continue to trust in him even when life is hard. Even if, they get up there on those Sunday mornings and they may not be feeling that Spirit-led, worship. Remember that sometimes worship is that volitional effort because God is always worthy of our praises. When we get up there and sing his goodness, even though our lives are hard, that’s faith right there. And that’s what it means to be a worship leader.