There are two ways one can walk in confidence. One is via pride, the other via humility.
As Christians, we often live with tensions. The Word tells us to turn the other cheek and to protect the innocent. However, sometimes protecting the innocent requires a fight. We are taught that the just live by faith not by works, yet we are also taught that faith without works is dead. We are taught to be both people of faith, yet not to naively believe in anything and practice discernment. We are taught to be humble but we are also encouraged by the Word to be bold and strong for the Lord our God is with us.
I want to attempt to reconcile this last tension because having BOTH humility and confidence is so important for worship leaders.
Our culture teaches us to ‘believe in ourselves’. I’ve seen many believers fall prey to this idea, seeming to practice ‘faith’ in themselves instead of in God’s word (Rom 10:17).
Humility is having the boldness to stare your weaknesses in the eye without flinching
Humble people question themselves. This requires DOUBT. It is healthy to look for our blind spots. This is why cars have side mirrors. No one comes to salvation without first coming to the end of themselves and recognizing their fallen nature (self-doubt).
“Insanity is repeating the same thing over and over….”
Faith has two enemies; certainty and doubt. Humble people question themselves but insane people never know when to stop. There is a point where we can stop questioning ourselves and arrive at confidence. As humility asks questions, it accumulates answers. When the humble person gets to the point where persistence just tends to show that they have asked all of the questions they can possibly ask, then the wise person can form an opinion, a picture. That picture can lead to confidence. Whether that confidence is knowing or overcoming one’s limitations, this is the place where confidence is earned.
The Christ-like road to confidence is via the vehicle of humility.
Someone just starting out on the guitar should ask questions like:
“What do I NOT know about the guitar or music?”
“Where are my deficiencies?”
“What can I not do on the guitar?”
“What do I need to learn to do better?”
As the student keeps asking questions like these, answers should come and growth should occur. Over time, these questions turn up less and less answers and as the student grows, their confidence should grow.
The pathway to confidence is earned through the process of humility
As a worship leader, I would literally be paralyzed if I didn’t have confidence. When I was just starting out, I remember standing in front of a congregation and my hands and knees were shaking and my nose was running as my body was physically reacting to fear. As a result, my playing and singing certainly suffered.
Because the distinctions between humility and confidence are so nuanced, the confidence that any leader needs within the church, is at risk of being mistaken for pride. While there ARE confident people who simply wish to ‘lord’ it over others to cover up their insecurities (pride), this cannot happen via the ‘vehicle of humility’ to which I’m describing.
I’ve experienced this first hand as a worship leader. I’m a confident worship leader because I was mentored by a confident and competent worship leader ‘back in the day’. During that mentoring period, he and I questioned my abilities as a worship leader so I could grow. Outside of that mentorship period, I have spent years (and still often do) questioning myself. I record every service I lead, listening back first to hear what *I’m* doing wrong and trying to find opportunities where I can grow. Add to this, reading a lot of articles, forums and working with a lot of other great worship leaders, this questioning process starts to accumulate an ‘earned’ confidence.
Sometimes because the church has not clearly communicated the distinctions between confidence and humility, such a confidence has been mistaken for pride. This mistake has cost me and many other believers’ ministries.
Once serving as a worship leader at a church that was going through the ‘worship wars’, I remember being accused by a member of the congregation of trying to impose my personal music styles upon them. The truth was that I was just trying to reach the congregation’s children and grandchildren as well so that we all would have a church in 20-30 years. The truth is that I make it a practice to sometimes surrender my personal preferences/styles to reach people and I was simply asking the more mature to do the same.
The Way Of Christ
Post-modernism is infecting the church in that it teaches us that perception is reality. As a result, we are the final arbiters of truth. Why question ourselves in such a world?
But this is not the way of Christ. The way of Christ is the path of humility, leading to confidence and truth leading to freedom.
Philippians 2:6-11 (NIV):
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature[b] of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Verse 5 precedes this passage with this admonishment:
“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset…”
Greg Jones is a musician, music teacher, worship leader and independent recording artist. On my site you find me sharing music instruction, with an emphasis on worship music and articles on worship leading.