During my years as a church musician, I’ve experienced just about every type of worship situation imaginable.

I’ve played conferences where things were so crazy, so charismatic, that I was afraid somebody would call the cops. Other times, I’ve been the only musician in a room with one or two silent prayer warriors. I’ve seen people speak in tongues, anoint with oil, paint stunning images on canvas, share incredible testimonies, create spontaneous songs, and heal the sick.

Of course, most of my time has been spent in worship that looks a lot like what we do on Sunday mornings. And believe me, I’m thankful for that.

Yes, there are many styles, customs, and experiences in worship. But a common thread weaves its way through all of it — the most profound, life-changing worship happens when God’s people earnestly seek His heart.

And that can’t happen unless the worship leader is transparent.

Think about it this way. Let’s say you went to Lens Crafters and picked out the most gorgeous frames for your eyeglasses — Armani or Oakley or Prada. You’d look amazing! But what would happen if the prescription were wrong? You wouldn’t be able to see. The eyeglasses would be worthless, no matter how good they looked.

As worship leader, I’m like those eyeglasses (probably the bargain-bin kind). My objective is not to get you to look at me, but to look through me to the heart of God.

Of course, worship leaders are most often associated with music, and with good reason. Most worship leaders are musicians of some kind, and we are tasked with leading the other musicians involved in the service.

We do our best because we care that our sacrifice is filled with integrity of heart. But we must take caution. If our music serves only to please the ears of man, if it merely satisfies our own prideful desires as musicians, if we play it without a holy awareness of his presence and magnificence, then we rob people of their spiritual inheritance. Balancing excellence with reverence is no easy task.

Ultimately, our job is to exalt Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. By doing this, we come to a place of humility before God so that we can receive and be changed by the focal point of the worship service — His glorious and living Word.

That’s about it. A worship leader is shepherd first, musician second. Someone who leads with skill, wisdom, and godly devotion. Someone who worships privately so that leading a congregation becomes a public extension of a life spent in praise.

These are the things I think about as I prepare for worship each week, seeking God’s guidance every step of the way. My daily prayer is that I can fade into transparency, like a well-functioning pair of eyeglasses, so that our worship at Crossroads might help you to see His face.

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