Worship Leaders, You Have One Job
You had one job.
In the world of internet memes, this might be the one that makes me laugh out loud the most. Hilarious pictures of job-related fails have spawned websites and multiple Twitter accounts. The common thread in each snapshot is a seemingly simple job that was botched in a way that should have been obvious. Woe to the unfortunate fool who, in the age of cell phone cameras and social media, misspells a road sign or installs a bench facing a wall.
You had one job.
Worship leaders, sometimes I worry that those words could describe us as well. The job of the church is simple to identify. We all know the Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19-20). Our job is to make disciples. (Cue the nodding heads: “Yeah, yeah, I know that already.”) But think for a moment, I mean seriously think, how much time do you spend during your week trying to make disciples?
Is disciple-making at the core of what you do? Or are you simply trying to grow a big choir? Or create a stunning stage design? Or get the tracking done on your next album? Or plan the next big event? Or dream up plans for the next set of nicer facilities? Or come up with the next slick sermon series logo? Or write the next chapter of your book?
Now before you get all up in arms, I’m not telling you not to do those things. After all, those things are probably in your job description. And in a sense, each of those is related to discipleship. We might call those things “indirect discipleship.” They may play a role in someone’s discipleship journey, but don’t involve your direct, personal relationship to the person. Still, at its core, discipleship is personal and relational. We might call this “direct discipleship” to help distinguish one from the other.
In this sense, I wonder if the sweeping grandiosity of the Great Commission is almost too broad and generic to be helpful to us as individuals. Maybe it’s a simple interaction between Jesus and Peter that best captures the personal and relational aspects of making disciples. When Jesus was beginning his ministry, he met Peter and his brother Andrew beside the Sea of Galilee and gave them a simple instruction: “‘Come follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people'” (Matt. 4:19).
There are two big things we need to take away from this. First, whatever God wants to do through you, he wants to do in you first. We can see it clearly in the way Jesus phrases his instruction: “Follow me, Peter, so that I can show you how to lead others to follow me.” The call to be a disciple is a prerequisite to the call to make disciples. Before the call to lead is a call to follow. Before disciple-ship comes disciple-hood.
So let’s ask the hard question: how is your “follow” going? Are you spending time in God’s Word and in his presence? Do you have places of spiritual nourishment in your life? Is there anyone in your life you can be honest and transparent with?
I’m uncomfortable even writing it, because I can think of the times in ministry where I led out of such spiritual emptiness. Thank you, Lord, for your grace in my weakness! But I’m finally starting to understand that my walk as a disciple is inseparable from my walk as a disciple-maker.
Now, on to truth number two: every ministry job is a people job. There are no exceptions. Worship Pastor? Yup. Communications Director? Mmhmm. Media Coordinator? You bet. Band Leader, Camera Operator and Complaint Card Reader? Yes, yes, and heck yes.
Worship leaders, your job is your people. It’s not to finally achieve organizational nirvana in Planning Center. It’s not to write the next hit song. It’s not to populate social media with sermon anecdotes and song clips. It’s not to figure out the exact length of time you can run the hazer to make the lights look cool before the people in the front row start complaining.
You have one job. Your job is to make disciples.
Now I can already hear the objections rising out of your throat: “But this is part of making disciples! There’s nothing wrong with any of these things!” And you’re right. Lord knows I can’t stand a Planning Center account that looks like my toddler got hold of the computer and started adding song arrangements.
But would you be willing to be honest with yourself for just a moment? If you set aside building your own kingdom – that desire inside of you to lead a bigger service, look cooler on screen, receive more applause, and compete with the bigger churches down the street – if you set aside that kingdom for a moment and focused only on building God’s kingdom, what would you do differently?
How many of your current activities would survive that kind of purge? If they did survive, how might they change in their focus or motivation?
I worry that we get so caught up in the business of church – or what we perceive to be the business of church – that we miss our one job: the people.
When was the last time you went to lunch with someone for the sole purpose of hearing them out and encouraging them? When was the last time you led your musicians in studying scripture or told them what God was doing in your heart? When was the last time you had a tough conversation with a ministry volunteer whose life wasn’t heading in the right direction?
None of us are nailing it on this count. Some of us may be doing better than others, but I can’t think of a moment in my ministry to date when I was perfectly embodying the disciple-maker I was called to be. But that’s why we need reminders to refocus, to lay it all out on the table and say, “God, how much of this am I doing for your kingdom, and how much am I doing for mine?”
There’s a part of our spirits that rebels against this. We just can’t stop working, like Martha bustling about the kitchen while Mary sits at the feet of Jesus. To you (and me!) Jesus might say, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).
Worship leaders, let’s get back to our one job. We weren’t called to be musicians, or conductors, or strategists, or set designers, or producers, or beard models, or skinny jean aficionados.
We were called to be disciple-makers.
David Ray and his wife Jess are worship leaders, artists, and songwriters, and the creators of the Doorpost Songs Family Worship Series. Dave and Jess care deeply about reconnecting worship and discipleship in the church and at home. Listen, view resources, and find out about their Family Worship Subscription at daveandjessray.com.