Episode | March 18, 2024

Transcript for Sean Rodriguez’s the Walk Podcast

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Joshua Swanson: Welcome to another episode of The Walk, a podcast focused on devotionals and conversations with the artists of the Church. Sean Rodriguez joins us today with a devotional about the importance of grounding your leadership in prayer and worship. Seeking God’s will over personal ambition. Sean is known for his breakout pop anthem center stage and played a featured role in the 2023 winter jam tour.

He honors his evangelical heritage with his music by showcasing a deep commitment to celebrating God’s transformative power and majesty. Before we dive in, I wanted to quickly thank our partners. First, Planning Center is a set of software tools to help you organize, coordinate, and communicate with your church teams.

They’ve launched Planning Center University on their YouTube channel. We will link to it in our show notes. It’s the place to go to ensure you are taking full advantage of this powerful tool. For those of you who don’t know what Planning Center is, visit them at planningcenter. com now. And you’ll walk away a lot more organized and prepared to serve your church.

I also want to give a nod to the Worship Leader Institute for partnering with us. In April, they launched another set of coaching groups led by a community of leaders who are currently involved in ministry in their local churches. And have over 15 years of experience to draw from. Participants gather twice a month and are coached on things like skills development, team building, shepherding a congregation, and creating a transformative worship experience.

So head to worshipleaderinstitute. com and join a bi monthly coaching group. Okay, here we go with Shawn Rodriguez.

Sean Rodriguez: Hey, my name is Sean Rodriguez, and I am so thankful to have this opportunity to bring this message today and just kind of talk and encourage you as a worship leader, but not only as a worship leader, just as somebody who’s playing a key role in the building of the kingdom of God.

So I’m so honored to be on this mission, this journey together with you. And I really hope that what God’s placed on my heart can connect with you in the way that it impacted me. So You know, just a little bit about me. I grew up in church, actually, my grandfather was, and he still is a pastor at a inner city church in Denver, Colorado, and growing up in church was really interesting because it felt like, you know, if, if you grew up in church, you maybe can relate to this.

Like there was a lot of pressure and, um, just kind of, The bar is set really high. And when you’re young, you kind of think that that’s a bad thing. Um, but now that I’m getting older and now that I can look back on the situation, I’m like, man, I’m so thankful that I was able to come up. In that environment one because I was raised around god fearing god loving people and the love of jesus was taught to me From the time that I was born.

I wouldn’t trade that for anything Uh, the other reason that i’m thankful is because growing up in the church I got to see all the ins and outs of serving and of leading I got to be Around the church for the best things that would happen and the best people and I also got to be front row in some things that didn’t go so great in the church and some situations that weren’t being handled so well.

And so when you are able to see those two things, man, I think it’s just, uh, it’s gives you an incredible opportunity to really reflect and to learn and to take what you’ve experienced and put it into action. into the way that you lead and the way that you approach church leadership. See, for me, something that I’m so thankful for is that my grandfather, no matter what happens, no matter what events would come up and who didn’t agree with what, or what went well, no matter what happened, he stayed level headed and he always prayed for God’s will to be done over his own.

And that’s a role of leadership and especially church leadership that I really strive. And I think that that’s something that we should all strive for as well. Just praying for God’s will to be done over your own. And so what I want to talk about today is a few steps that we can do to ensure that God’s will is done over our own and that we ultimately take ourselves out of the picture to put God at center stage of everything that we do.

Because see, as worship leaders, sometimes we can get in our own heads. And I think that, Oftentimes what happens as we’re looking around and as we’re bringing people on to the worship team Maybe you’ve experienced this before before maybe you’ve even come out of this season yourself Sometimes we try to become worship leaders Under the disguise of saying that we just want to worship god and we would love to do it on stage But how many times have you come across and like I said, you may have even battled through this season yourself that feeling of Or that, that, that something in your heart that kind of tells you that you’re doing this for you.

You know, when somebody is on stage worshiping, leading, but their heart is not in the right place. While they may get by for a little bit, but eventually, the authenticity of that heart is going to show. See, the first thing I want to challenge you with is why are you leading worship in the first place?

And I’m not just asking this to the worship leader. I’m asking this to every person that is on that stage on a Sunday morning, on a Wednesday night, on a Friday night, wherever, wherever it is that you’re on stage leading worship. Why are you there in the first place? Because here’s the thing. Even if you’re not the appointed worship leader, you are a worship leader because you are playing that role.

Of leading the congregation in worship, whether that’s on lead vocal, whether that’s background, vocal, guitar, bass, piano, drums, violin. I mean, if they have you up there playing the banjo, you’re still leading worship. And so let’s go back to that question. Why did you start in the first place?

Joshua Swanson: We’ll be back with Sean in just a minute.

Sean Rodriguez: For so many people, the stage and the lights and the opportunity to sing because you’re passionate about music. All of those things can have a tendency to overwhelm what true worship should be. And see the thing that I want to comfort you on is that there’s nothing wrong. With you loving an opportunity to sing or to play your instrument, there’s nothing wrong with that.

But when you’re leading worship, when you’re preparing to lead worship, it’s the state of the heart that you need to be sure to check. Because you can be thankful to sing, you can be thankful to play, you can be thankful and be passionate about all of that. But when you step on stage, that’s when it’s time to let go Of what your heart is telling you that you love.

And that’s when it’s time to focus your life and your heart and everything in you on God, who is your ultimate love. See our personal desires. Everything goes out the window. Once you take that platform because now it’s time to love. To point people to God. Alright, so we’ve checked our hearts, right? And, and if you, if you’ve checked your heart and you’re not in this season of life, maybe you’ve never been in that season of life, or maybe you’ve worked your way out of it, then that’s great.

You have that heart check in. Every time that you step on stage. So then the next thing that we can do is once you’ve taken care of yourself, man, the next thing that you got to do to ensure great leadership and great worship leadership is to take care of your team. So you know that your heart’s right now, let’s help our team get their hearts right.

And that looks completely different from what you might expect. That doesn’t look like calling people out and saying, Hey, your heart’s not in the right place. You need to adjust it. I know that there’s opportunities. for conversations like that. But a lot of things kind of have to go wrong before it has to come down to that hard conversation.

So what can you do to prevent having those hard and oftentimes awkward and uncomfortable conversations with the members of your team? Well, it looks like leading through serving. You’ve heard this cliche that great leaders lead from behind, and that true leaders are actually the most willing servants.

You know, we throw that around in church a lot. But it comes up a lot because it’s true and as a leader again Whether you’re the appointed worship leader or you are just a worship leader on the team You have to remember that you are there for God and you are not just there for yourself That means within your team as well in rehearsal during the week.

Are you shooting a text message? Are you are you keeping up with the people that have been appointed with you? to lead worship together. Check in. Hey, how are you doing? How can I help you? How can I serve you? Make sure that you are leading by example and you are always taking a back seat. You are always putting God’s will before your own in every situation.

Because when you’re leading by example, Well, then people can follow that example. And that’s truly what a leader does. A leader doesn’t tell a leader shows. And so we’ve checked our heart and then we’ve followed up on our team. We’ve checked on our team’s heart. We’ve, we’ve supported, we have, um, helped people grow by just serving them.

We have been leaders by serving. And so once we’ve checked our heart, once we’ve helped our team grow, man, and that’s when something incredible happens because now there is an opportunity. A just now there is a joint mission between you, the rest of your team, and there is a heart, not only your heart for God, but there is a team for God.

And you are all on the same page. Every time you step up there, you say, okay, we know what we’re doing. We know why we’re doing this. And we know that this is our calling all together. It’s not, Seven individuals on stage, each fulfilling their own calling. It’s seven people as a group on stage, fulfilling one calling that God has given them, God has appointed them to be worship leaders on the stage.

And that is the calling that they are fulfilling. And it’s incredible. So now you can really focus on the way that you are leading worship. And I want to start this last piece off with, um, just an example. I was talking with a worship pastor not too long ago, and, um, I, I heard him say this on a Sunday, in a Sunday service.

He said, I want to apologize to the congregation, because when I look around during worship, I don’t see people raising their hands. I don’t see people I don’t see people really getting involved. And that’s my fault because I have never told you the right way to worship. I’ve never taught you how to worship.

And I understood where he was going with that, but I talked to him afterwards. And this is what I told him. I said, look, I don’t think you should have apologized for not teaching people how to worship. Now, for context, this is. This is a small church. It’s not a big budget church. And so oftentimes, um, this, this worship pastor, he’s leading by himself, just, you know, keys and, and his voice, maybe there’s a drummer and a couple of, um, and a couple of extra choir members, but you know, oftentimes it’s just him and the keys.

And so I told him, you know, I don’t think that you should apologize for not telling them how to worship. So I think. The, the bigger part is getting people, you know, a part of the worship team and getting people to show what worship looks like. See, as worship leaders, our job is not to tell people that they need to be worshiping right now.

Our job is to show people how to worship in that moment. People already came to church. They’re already there for worship. They want to worship. Maybe they don’t know how. But instead of telling them how. As great leaders, we have this opportunity to show them how. So when we stand on stage on a Sunday morning, I want to encourage you, that is not about you.

That is not about your team. That’s not about a time for your team to all see, Oh man, we put in so much work in rehearsal and this is awesome. Or this, this blend of songs is going to go so cool. That’s not the time to pay attention to that. When you step on stage, your number one priority should be creating a space, creating an environment that people can mirror and people can enter in to worshiping the Lord.

That is your ultimate job on a Sunday morning, on a Wednesday night, on a Friday night, whenever it is that you’re leading worship, your ultimate job is to create a space. I’ve heard a lot of times people will say like, Oh, when I’m, when I’m singing and I’m worshiping on stage, everything goes away and it’s just me and God.

That’s one of, you know, I, I understand that. And that’s incredible. It’s amazing. I want to challenge you though. God appointed you as a worship leader. You can have you and God worship at home, in the car, backstage, before worship. But I want to challenge you next time you step on stage, Don’t make it about you.

Play the role. Do the job that God appointed you to. See, I truly believe that if you’re in a position where you’re a worship leader, you’re on stage, God put you there for a reason. It’s not by accident. God has given you a role to fill. One thing to remember is that while God has given you that role, God doesn’t need you in that role.

God will use who he wants to. God will always be worshipped. God will always be lifted high. So what I want you to remember is that God doesn’t need you in that role, but he’s blessed you by allowing you So when you step on stage, you want to make God proud and you want to create the best environment for not just you to worship him, but for his people to worship him.

You want to mirror, you want to be a reflection of God. of what true worship looks like. That way your congregation says, man, this is creating a space for me to give worship to God.

See, as a worship leader, like I said, your job is not for you to worship God on stage. Your job is for you to create that space for others to worship. Your job is to lead the congregation in worship, not just yourself. So, once you’ve checked your heart, once you’ve built your team the right way, and once you’ve acknowledged that, hey, this moment, this time is about the congregation, and it’s not just about us, Man, that is going to unlock incredible worship experiences.

Worship experiences that will truly change lives, that will break walls down, that will just draw people into a closer relationship with God and make them desire to go after them because you’ve been there. created that space successfully for them to become closer to God. And guess what? It wasn’t just on stage.

When we checked our heart, when we built our team, those things happened off of stage. Those things did not happen on Sunday mornings. Those things were lifestyle choices. I want to remind you and encourage you that worship leadership. That is the job that we get to do. And every day we need to live like we’re thankful that we get to do that job.

We get to fulfill that role. God has appointed you. That is a blessing and it’s a privilege and it is to be handled with the utmost care and responsibility. We face a hard battle because as musicians, as singers, you know, your pride is always on the line. Your pride is always in there because you take pride in, in your talent and your abilities And that is awesome.

That’s a great thing. You should be proud of what you are able to do. But God’s will should always take priority over anything that your own heart desires. And I’ll tell you something else. When your heart aligns with the heart of God, man, that is when you and your worship team Man, that is when they can just break walls down.

That’s when they can just help people see just above and beyond what they could have imagined because You are in line with god’s heart and god can use that in an incredible way I want to pray for us today And you know if you’re wherever you’re listening to this if you’re driving, you know, don’t bow your head and close your eyes But if you’re in a place where you can, um, you know, definitely just uh, just just pray with me and in this moment You Even if you do this daily, let this be that moment where you check your heart, check your heart right now.

Ask why you’re doing this. If your intentions for doing this are good, then check your heart on how you could be that servant in your leadership position. How can you serve your team? How can you, how can you lead your team from behind? I want you to just just pray on that and if you’ve have those two steps checked off already Then I want you to pray on the way that you can continue to remove yourself Um mentally from that stage and just use that opportunity To create space for your congregation to worship god.

So let’s pray really quick god. I thank you so much For every leader that’s listening right now, I thank you so much that you have given them the passion, the desire, the talents and abilities to fulfill the call that you’ve placed in their life. God, I thank you that you have equipped them with everything that they need to play the role that you have assigned them.

God, I pray that as we go forward, as we do our self reflection, as we do our team building, as we do our worship leading on, uh, on, Sunday mornings. God, I pray that you can remind us every step of the way that this is what we get to do. This is what we’re blessed to do, God. God, I pray that you can remind us that worship and, and the life, the lifestyle that we live as leaders, God, it is all about you and it is none about us.

God, if anything, we want our lives to be nothing but reflections and examples for what you can do in a heart that is willing. So God, I pray for every leader listening right now, for everybody aspiring to worship leadership, for everybody that’s in it, for everybody that’s been in it. God, I pray for every one of those hearts.

That they can take these three steps and they can align their heart with yours. God, I pray that as we continue to lead worship in our respective areas, God, I pray that you can just use us to create that space to draw people closer to you. God, you have blessed us with an incredible responsibility. To not only care for our own salvation, but to care for that of others as well.

And we thank you so much for that. God, we move forward in love. We move forward in faith and we move forward in thankfulness that this is the job that you have allowed us to do. I pray your blessing over every one of these leaders. I pray that you fill them up for all that they pour out. And God, we lift up every worship set, every song, every word, every message, every interaction, everything that comes from this point on, God, we lift it up to you and we pray that you use it in your mighty name.

Amen. Hey, I want to thank you guys so much for listening today and I want to encourage you. Go out and remember this is the job that you get to do. Be thankful for it. This is the role that God placed you in. So own it and make God proud. Thank y’all so much.

Joshua Swanson: Thank you to Sean Rodriguez for spending time with us and sharing a fantastic devotional. We’ll play out this episode with one of Sean’s songs called The Unbelievable, which is a new single that stands out not just for its catchy melody, but also for its ability to inspire reflection on the miraculous in everyday life.

Find out more about Sean through the links in our show notes. If you haven’t done so already, it would really mean a lot to us if you would subscribe to our podcast and leave us a review. All right, until next time, I want to thank the team at Life Audio for their partnership. If you go to lifeaudio. com, you’ll find a collection of Faith Center podcasts about health and wellness, parenting, current cultural events, Bible teachings, and more.

So check them out at lifeaudio. com. I’m Joshua Swanson. Here’s to life. The unbelievable