Joshua Swanson: When you think of your favorite worship leader, who comes to mind? Our guest Tiffany Hudson has a unique and profound answer to that question on today’s episode of The Walk, a devotionals podcast for worshipers. Tiffany’s an artist, songwriter, and worship leader best known for her work with Elevation Worship.
Let’s learn what her favorite worship leader taught her. Here we go.
Tiffany Hudson: What’s up guys, it’s Tiffany Hudson. I am so, so honored to get to talk with you all today. I absolutely love what this podcast is about. Just creating space for worship leaders to chat about all the things and to learn from each other. So I am so, so honored to get to talk with you guys today. Just a little bit about what the Lord’s been placing on my heart.
I don’t know if you’re like me, but I grew up as a pastor’s kid. And as a pastor’s kids, a lot of times you are kind of called upon to fill roles that maybe no one else filled for the day or no one else showed up for. I, I, a lot of times was the one that filled in for the nursery worker that got sick or um, helped with production, even though I know nothing about it and just kind of called upon to do those things.
And so with worship leading. That was kind of an area that we needed help with in my parents church. And so kind of stumbled upon the role. I love to sing. I learned how to play four chords and kind of stumbled into worship leading based out of a need, but, um, God absolutely captured my heart for his presence through that process.
And, you know, I think a lot of times, as you do step into something, you feel God’s calling you to, and you’re learning along the way. I was so desperate to find people to look up to and. To know how to do this right and to find examples. And so today I kind of want to talk about one of my favorite worship leaders that we can learn from.
And, you know, you might be thinking, is it Jenn Johnston? Is it Steffany Gretzinger? Is it Kari Jobe? To which I would say, yes, I love all of them. What beautiful examples I’ve had to grow up and to learn from. But today I want to talk about somebody from the Bible. You might think it’s David, which, what a great example.
But today I’m actually going to talk about John the Baptist as one of the best examples of what a worship leader is. Maybe not the most popular example when we think about worship, but John the Baptist, there’s so much we can learn from.
Joshua Swanson: We’ll be right back with more from Tiffany about worship leader John the Baptist.
Tiffany Hudson: Someone that’s still learning what worship is, and obviously when I stepped into it, needed beautiful examples of what it means to carry the mandate of leading people into the presence of Jesus. And so the first reason I think John the Baptist is the best worship leader is because John. recognized when the Spirit of God walked into the room.
In Luke 1:41 it says, “And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.” So John, as a baby in his mother’s womb, and Mary, when Jesus was in Mary’s womb, when Mary walked in, the baby inside of Elizabeth leaped, and it literally said she was filled with the Holy Spirit, and I’ll read even further, it said, “She exclaimed with a loud cry, Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, and why is granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”
How cool that even at that young formative age, they could recognize the spirit of God has entered the room. And I think the best worship leaders know when the spirit of God enters the room. And of course we believe God is omnipresent. He’s everywhere. You can find him in everything, but there is a distinctive moment when you know something has shifted in the room. There is this holy weight that fills the room and our response is reverence. It’s just, there’s, there’s been this shift, and to be honest, those are the moments that captured my heart at a young age, from learning how to lead worship and learning the presence of God.
I can remember, like, when I first kind of learned what this distinctive presence of God was, and, um, like I said, I grew up, like, I learned four chords on the piano, and I would sit down at my parents piano, I would make sure no one else was home, and I would sit at the piano, and you know, the piano’s still out of tune to this day, I didn’t play very well, it was very clunky, and I didn’t sing very well, but I remember learning the presence of God, and I would sit there, And I would sing until I felt the presence of God enter the room.
And even now I feel so emotional talking about it because those were the most formative, shaping moments. Where I really learned, like, oh God is close and He is near. And it didn’t come by my talent, it didn’t come by a perfect song or me playing right or singing well. It just came… out of hunger and I just longed to know God and to feel his presence and so I really believe as worship leaders, it’s so important to recognize, to learn the presence of God, and to recognize when he walks into the room so that we can rightly respond to him
We don’t want to just sing the songs and go about our day and go through the motions without that right response to his holiness, to his goodness, to his faithfulness. And so, you know, that’s the first reason. John recognized when the Spirit of God walked into the room. And we can all learn so much from him in that way.
The second reason, John prepared the way for Jesus. Luke 3 says, “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord. Make us pass straight. Every valley shall be filled, every mountain made low and the crooked shall become straight and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” John’s entire life mission, the reason he was on earth, was to prepare the way for Jesus. To prepare the hearts, make them ready to receive when Jesus was to come. And
I think as worship leaders, like, this is our goal. We are simply preparing the way for Jesus. We are preparing hearts to meet with Jesus. And I think, you know, a lot of times in church, people are coming in with all types of things, like their hearts. In our hearts, all might be going through different things. There might be disappointments and struggles we’re going to that maybe we kind of need to like lift the valley so their heart can be softened towards Jesus again.
And maybe people are coming in with, uh, I don’t know, accolades and things are really proud of and maybe the mountain needs to be brought low so that they can rightly respond to who Jesus is. And so our job as worship leaders is to prepare the way. Make the mountains come low and make the valleys come up so that Jesus can walk in the room on level paths.
I think of the triumphal entry, you know, when Jesus came on a donkey, how humble of him, but people. Laid their coats and they laid their branches so that the king of kings could enter the city on a level path and he could feel welcomed. That is our job as worship leaders. I’ve heard it said, you know, “You can’t make anybody fall in love, but we can set up a really good date.” And I think that’s also a beautiful mental picture of what it could mean to just Set the stage for Jesus like we’re there for him and we’re simply preparing the way like he is the one, he’s the one that’s coming that can do anything great. It’s not us and so what a beautiful um example we can learn from.
The third thing John was a prophet that always pointed back to Jesus. This one is crazy to me. Okay, so in Luke 3:15 it says, “as the people were in expectation and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John whether he might be the Christ, John answered them saying, I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
People actually thought John was the Christ. Can you imagine even being one that prophecies were made about? There were prophecies about John. You know, in Isaiah is where the prophecy was of the voice of one crying in the wilderness. That was about John. And imagine the things he had to deal with of the crowds kind of surrounding him and leaning into what he’s saying and people pondering.
He’s hearing the murmuring and the mumbling of, Is he the one we’ve been waiting for? And he was responsible enough to point back to Jesus. I am not even worthy to untie his sandals. Man, what a beautiful example, because as worship leaders, leading a, you know, a congregation, there’s all people from all walks in their faith and, you know, someone that might be immature in their faith might associate their only encounter with God with you, which is a very terrifying feeling and a responsibility and a weight to always point back to.
It is not I, you know, like it is Jesus that has any power to save. Obviously, I, I know the weight of what it means to lead people into the presence of Jesus, and absolutely view that as a responsibility and a privilege. However, sometimes I gotta get really real with myself and say, “Hey, I’m just singing the song, right?”
I know it’s deeper than that, but like, I’m just singing the song. It is Jesus that can change, that’s Jesus that can save, and so always feeling that responsibility to point back. Like, thank you for the compliment. You know, as a worship leader, maybe you get people that come up to you and say, “Wow, I really love your voice, or I love, I always feel the presence of God when you sing,” and all of those things are beautiful and an honor, right?
“But to always say, it is not I. Thank you, but it is not I. I’m not even worthy to untie sandals.” So be a prophet that always points back to Jesus.
Joshua Swanson: Tiffany will close us with prayer and a final word about John the Baptist in just a moment. But first we got to interview Aaron Stewart, the Co-founder of Planning Center and our partner on today’s episode. He has some tips for free features that you might be missing out on.
Aaron Stewart: Planning Center makes a lot of different software and so the main thing that worship leaders know is Planning Center Services. It’s the green one that you use for your music and for the worship stuff. Planning Center also has, can be, if you want, Your whole church management system. And in that, the center of Planning Center is our product that’s called Planning Center People. Whether worship leaders know it or not, by using the worship services aspect of it, all your people are getting synced to this database in the background, whether you use it or not.
And that database and features for the database are actually totally free. And so you don’t even have to commit to like, Oh, we want to use planning center for our whole church thing to even take advantage of some of those features.
So for instance, planning center people, which is free, has the ability to make forms for people to sign up for. You can make a form that’s like, are you interested in volunteering at the church? Put in your name, your phone number, whatever. And then where are you interested in volunteering? And then you can set up that form so that if they check the box that says I’m interested in worship ministry, it then sends them to a whole nother feature that is free called workflows.
You can make a workflow for like audition workflow. So when someone checks that box on the form, it puts them in the workflow and the step one is email that person, uh, with information about when our next auditions are going to be. All that stuff is free. If you just know where to look.
Joshua Swanson: Planning Center, again, for those of you who don’t know, is a set of software tools to help you organize information, coordinate events, communicate with your teams, and connect with your congregation.
You can find out more about it at planningcenter. com.
Okay, back to Tiffany to close us out.
Tiffany Hudson: The last thing I’ll kind of speak on is John preached a message of repentance. You know, in Matthew 3:2, it says, “Repent, the kingdom of heaven is near.” Everywhere he went, he said, Repent. He didn’t say celebrate the kingdom of heaven is near. He said, Repent, the kingdom of heaven is near. Repentance must be a part of our daily walk as a Christ follower.
And I think even as the ones of, you know us that might be on the stage and might be leading the worship and maybe people look to you for guidance or the answers or whatever else? I think there’s room for us to stay in a posture of repentance. Maybe the times we’ve gotten it wrong. I know I’m so far from perfect.
I know the Lord constantly has to check my motive and kind of pull me back. You know, it’s his kindness that brings us to repentance, but for me, it’s usually like a kind little slap on the face from the Lord that I’m very grateful for. But, um, he’s so kindly draws me back to what this is all about and, and the purpose of worship and who we’re singing to.
And if I’ve ever had motives that have been impure. Like God, I repent. I’m sorry. Help me honor you in this help me not to brush past the moments where you enter the room and I want to make it all about you. And help me to prepare a way for you. Help me to point to you. Help me to never make this about myself, and so I honestly quickly want to just pray for us as worship leaders. Maybe in your own heart you can take a moment to repent to ask the Lord to help you do this well, because there’s so many examples that we can learn from, but I know that, uh, I’ve, I’ve come so far from the mark many times, and so just want to ask the Lord to help us along the way that we could carry this mantle well, lead his people into his sweet presence, and get out of the way so that they can be changed, so.
Jesus, we are so grateful that you’ve chosen us to prepare a way for you. What an honor, God. What an honor to wake up early and to prepare. What an honor to lead team members in preparation. To work on the arrangements and to practice our chords and our parts all in the name of preparing the way for you to be there, for you to come, and for you to touch hearts and change lives.
And I pray that you would help us get out of the way. That the more that we lead worship and, and learn about the craft, the less, you know, or the more we die to ourselves, God, the more that we are just so captivated with who you are that it can’t even be about us. And so we just take a moment and we repent for the ways and the times that we’ve got it wrong, for the ways we’ve wanted to make it about ourselves, or I don’t know.
I just, we need you so much, Lord. And I’m so grateful for the many examples that we have to be able to lead, lead people to you in such a pure way. And let us never forget that we are simply this, I don’t wanna sound sacrilegious, but we are simply way makers for the waymaker. We are not the way make waymaker, but we are making the way for the way maker.
And I’m just so grateful that you would trust broken people, God, to do that. God what an honor. We are grateful And we thank you so much for the privilege. We love your presence more than anything I pray for every church that is going into this weekend that God is already preparing for what it might look like.
God, I ask that your presence would be poured out, that you would move through your vessels, God, that you would speak through your people, that you would play through your musicians, God. That, um, as we make level paths for you, you would just ride in and be so glorified and be so welcomed in these places, in Jesus name, amen.
Joshua Swanson: Thank you, Tiffany, for sharing your great devotional with us. We’re going to play out this episode with a song off of Tiffany’s solo debut album called Didn’t Hear. The song is called I’ll Be Ready.
As always, special thanks to Matt McCartie for producing and editing today’s episode. Jacob Fairclough produced our theme song. The Walk is brought to you by Worship Leader.
I also want to thank the team at Life Audio for their partnership. If you go to lifeaudio.com, you’ll find a collection of faith centered 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 I’ll Be Ready.