Let love be your highest goal! (1 Corinthians 14:1a, NLT)
Love is our highest purpose
The worship team exists not to create music, but to serve people. The foundational value of our team is to love – as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:1, our highest aim, purpose and goal should be to love. That means first that we must make sure our highest goal is not:
- Skill development
- Creating an atmosphere
- Sounding great
- Using the latest songs
- Having a big team
- Having enough on the team
- Stage presence
- Using a broad selection of songs and hymns
- Not using music stands
All these things are important aspects of how our team operates, and shouldn’t be neglected BUT they are not as important as showing love to others. Love should be the motivating factor at work in everything we choose to do. For instance, love should be what determines:
- How we treat our teams
Value them, value the time they give not just on Sundays but at rehearsals and in their own prep time. Value them by serving them and making sure they have all they need to serve the team and the church well. Love them by encouraging and drawing out the excellence that God has put in them rather than letting them drift into casualness. Honour them, and their families, with gratitude and care, knowing they are much more than just worship team members.
- How we lead our congregation
Recognise that everyone is different, approaches worship differently, has come from different home experiences and different church experiences. Never lead or speak out of frustration, but always within your manner and speech keep a tone of love and care – that doesn’t mean we back off or be patronising, or sappy, though! Looking and sounding good on stage is shallow and powerless if that is all it is – it must be founded on the purpose of loving God’s people and seeking to provide them with the strong, passionate, authentic leadership they need to step out of their own personal struggles and individual worship expression to come together as a united people, in agreement that Jesus Christ is Lord and He alone is worthy to be praised and worshipped, and that passionately and wholeheartedly. We are not apart from the congregation but a part of it, so we should never allow our performance of music to cause a separation – a congregation that thinks the worship team enjoys making and singing the music more than engaging with them will feel undervalued by the team, and disconnect and not be led. Similarly, a congregation that thinks the worship team don’t really care about, or value, the music they play, or how they sing, or how they carry themselves on the platform of leadership they’ve been given, will feel that same sense of ‘no value’ toward themselves, and never feel encouraged to be led by the worship team.
It all hangs on love
Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40, NKJV)
Jesus told the Pharisees that everything that was important to them in their religious service and leadership – all the things that they valued as important in ‘worshipping’ God – were actually underpinned by two fundamental expressions of love that they had totally missed; love toward God and love toward others. Without love the things they valued and pursued wholeheartedly – even fanatically – were just shallow and meaningless, and meant nothing of significance to God.
It is so easy to value the creative aspect of our ministry – especially because we all love it so much anyway – that in our pursuit of it we end up devaluing or demoting the most important value we should hold as a team, to love others. The things we do, even the excellence and skill to which we do them, should be defined and formed by love, because without love they are empty, lifeless, showy, even self-indulgent. We should be excellent because we love those that will receive from our excellence. We should be exuberant and dynamic in our praise because we love God foremost, and we love those we lead so much that for them to see lacklustre leadership would devalue worship for them. We should be diligent because we love the people on our teams and value their time and commitment. We should be selfless and defenceless in our own preferences and ideas because we love and value the inherent creativity in all our team members, and at the same time love our team members by giving them the strong, trustable leadership they need so that creativity has the security and safety, and direction, it needs to flourish.
Love changes everything
When we make Love our highest pursuit and goal, it will change how we as leaders approach everything we do in and with our teams. It will affect how we choose to treat and lead our team members, and our congregation. It’ll change our thinking about our stage presence and style of leadership. It’ll shut down some avenues of creative expression, and open up whole new ones that require more effort but ultimately bear greater fruit in the life of our congregational worship. It’ll be the deciding factor in decisions regarding style, song choice, people management, and commitment. It’ll rattle the cage of lazy thinking, of religious thinking, and of super-spiritual thinking, exposing them for the selfishness that they really are.
Nothing we do as a worship team is more important than to love others. Without it we are, as it says in 1 Corinthians 13, just a bunch of noise. Even if the noise sounds tight and musically creative, it counts for nothing. The greatest way we can make sure that all that our team does is in strength and anointing is to make sure it is done with love. Love keeps all that we do as selfless and not showy; it keeps us from losing heart and focus, and empowers us through all circumstances, good and bad; it keeps our attitudes centred on Christ, it fuels our praise, and it never, never, ever gives up or fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) Love is the strongest foundation we could ever build on.
Be intentional with love
Let’s look for ways that we as leaders can be intentional in showing love to our team members and our congregation. Stop and pause over every idea and decision and consider what place love has in it. Give your team members the space and opportunity to find ways they can show love to others. Make the changes in your own leadership that you need to demonstrate to your team that you value them. Serve our congregations by being less caught up in the performance, and by removing the super-spirituality that tries to devalue the need for excellence.
Let’s give the very best of ourselves to our team members and our congregation, purely out of love.