Spirit Supersedes Performance
When it comes to performance in worship, I am probably thought of as being quite confident. To some extent it’s true, but I have to tell you that it is only because God spoke to me very clearly, on one particular occasion, as I was tussling with this whole thought: “Where does this all fit? How does this all work? Lord, what do you think?” I was quite surprised that he answered me.
Daughter, you’ve been bought with a price. You are not for sale; you never need to perform for me … my love is enough.
From that day to this, I felt a release from people’s expectations, and a release to be myself in worship. I had tried to downsize my passion in singing for Christ, as it made others feel uncomfortable. I was often told to “take a breath” and “tone it down.” But there was a fire in my belly and a gratefulness that needed to be expressed as God himself had metaphorically picked me up from the trash heap and given me life and a reason for that life.
Fast-forward 25 years … I am here, on fire for God, and more passionate than ever about his praise, his presence, his goodness and redemption, and I will sing of it forever—unapologetically.
Being in the Word of God will frame all of your decisions as to how you appear before him; this is what should set your performance tone. I do have personal standards and even with our teams, a general clothing standard for the platform that is not about style or musical performance, but about bringing our best and removing any distractions. You would be surprised at what becomes a distraction: low-cut tops, sleeveless tops, jeans/pants that are too tight (regardless of whether you are male or female).
So how do we stay new, fresh, awakened in heart and soul to the stirrings of the Spirit without just diving into the pool of strict performance? How do we serve fresh and living water to those we are given to serve that will impart life to the weary?
I personally think that it all comes down to each of us being aware of the Holy Spirit, and not becoming familiar with the presence of God, not becoming used to how things are done, but being ready for the miraculous at every moment. I like to herald the word excellence as we can all bring that: bringing our best, yet not comparing our best with another.
That one phrase from my God—that encounter marked my life. Ever since I have had an awareness of his being near—the person of the Holy Spirit filling me, teaching me, leading me and comforting me. So much so, I have found that without this presence of the Spirit, there is no way forward to our worship being “in truth” (1 Cor 12:3). This has absolutely ruined me for anything less and even messed with my own initial “safer” understanding of worshiping in Spirit. Bishop Graham Cray, Bishop of Maidstone (in the United Kingdom), said this in January 2008:
I believe the power of the Holy Spirit is the foretaste of the power of what is to come. All ministry, genuinely in the power of the Holy Spirit, brings the power of the new heaven and the new earth into the here and now … the old becoming new.
Simply stunning. Spirit and truth worship: enabled by the Spirit, offered in truth.
In the end, it all comes back to love: his love for us, and our response of love back to him. I pray that a revelation of God’s love is the utmost in our hearts and lives—and with that revelation, a burning desire to see others receive the fullness of Christ and all it means. That is where worship starts to kick into a whole other level, as we become truly the loved, and confidence in Christ and his power at work in us shapes our lives, our language, our behavior, our songs, our time, and our passions.
Please never forget the honor it is to lead people into the courts of our King.
With much love as always,
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Australian Darlene Zschech is acclaimed all over the world as a composer, worship leader, pastor, author and speaker, and became most well known for her involvement in the worship team at Hillsong Church, Sydney, Australia over many years. Although she has achieved numerous gold albums and her songs are sung in many nations of the world, Darlene’s success simply stands as a testimony to her life’s passion for serving God and people with all her heart. Alongside her husband Mark, they are the Senior Pastors of Hope Unlimited Church (HopeUC) on the Central Coast of New South Wales, Australia, which has now grown into India and the USA. As a composer, Darlene is perhaps most famous for the chorus “Shout to the Lord”, a song that is sung by millions of churchgoers every week and has been covered by many other artists. In addition to “Shout to the Lord”, Darlene has written many songs through solo projects: “Kiss of Heaven”, “Change Your World”, “You Are Love”, “In Jesus Name” and “Revealing Jesus”, a live worship album recorded with the Grammy Award winning Israel Houghton. Through the Compassionart project in 2008, Darlene was honoured to have the privilege of writing with some of the most generous-hearted worship writers and leaders of our day.