A Heart for Worship

In Magazine Articles, Web Articlesby Kim Hunt

by Brandon Keane

In the era of contemporary worship culture, we tend to focus on pedalboards, high-tech stages, and highlight reels instead of what really matters – our hearts. Often as worship leaders, our congregations do not see all the effort that goes into preparing for Sunday. They do not get to see their worship team praying over their church leaders, their congregations, and themselves. They do not get to see the individual team members in their homes listening to worship songs, reading scripture, praying, and sitting in silence to bring their hearts into a place of worship. If you are not part of a worship team, all you see is the Sunday experience, and unfortunately, this can sometimes look like a concert. That is why focusing on our hearts matters more than performance. If worship leaders neglect their pursuit of the Lord in their hearts, they could lead their congregations to themselves, not Jesus.

Heart Status – Identify Your “Why”

Whether you are a paid staff member or a volunteer leading on stage or behind the scenes, ask yourself a very honest two-part question:

Am I here to serve God and others or selfishly seek notoriety or praise?

For the answer, I would recommend praying about it and asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth and seek peer accountability for them to assess your character. Once you have the answer, praise God for revealing it to you and move forward considering that truth. If you are experiencing the idol of self-praise or pride, you are not alone. If you are experiencing this, confide in one of your teammates so they can pray for you regarding this. This is an all-too-common issue for someone on a platform to experience. The good news is that all things brought to light can be overcome! You can repent today and move on to lead others to Christ, not yourself.

Prepare Your Heart

Preparing your heart should be a top focus for you and your team leading up to Sundays. Practicing your parts and rehearsing with your team is vital to achieving a distraction-free worship experience, but if your heart is not in the right place, your worship will be in vain. Jesus talks much about the heart; therefore, this should be important to us.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:21

If your heart is treasuring Jesus and things of eternal value, you can worship in spirit and truth. So how does one prepare their heart? Let us look to see what Jesus did. Here are three things I would recommend doing during the week leading up to Sunday based on what Jesus did when He ministered to people:

  1. Read the Word

Jesus shows us that he treasured God’s word and depended on it. In the wilderness temptations, how did Jesus refute Satan’s attacks? – With Scripture (Matt 4:4). Likewise, whenever we enter situations where Satan can attack us or our pride is strong, we need to turn to the word. If you do not know what to read, read the scripture about the songs you will be playing and meditate on those truths. Invite other team members to read with you using an app and share how that scripture has impacted you.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Psalm 119:105

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4

  1. Pray

Jesus always consulted the Father in prayer, and so should we. When Jesus prayed, He did so in the Father’s will. Similarly, worship leaders need to get into the rhythm of prayer and pray in the Father’s will. To start, try praying for specific people and their circumstances and missions within your local church body and see where the Holy Spirit leads you from there.

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”  John 5:14

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 5:1

  1. Rest – Solitude – Silence

This is not your typical RSS feed. Before returning and ministering to people, Jesus would find rest, solitude, and silence. If Jesus needed time to recuperate, so do we. When we constantly pour out to others, we need to be refilled by the Holy Spirit before returning to minister again. We should also understand that to hear from God, we must remove the racket as times. We need silence. And it is hard to be in silence when surrounded by phones, emails, and people. I am not saying you need a monastery retreat every week, but 15-30 minutes of silence daily does wonders for the soul.

Let us all follow Jesus’ model of preparation by being in the Word, praying in the Father’s will, and creating space in our days for rest, solitude, and silence to achieve the equilibrium position of worship and honor God on Sundays and all the days of our lives.

The Equilibrium Position – Heart vs. Performance

So where do heart posture and diligent practice meet on Sunday? I believe it is found when your heart is centered on God and using your talents to the best of your abilities without self-praise or pride. Like a pendulum, the equilibrium position is the middle point at which the pendulum bounces back and forth. Like the pendulum, striking a good balance between your heart and playing well is key to God-honoring worship. This is the balance worship leaders should pursue. Knowing that it is all about Christ. Yet, if you are constantly hitting wrong notes on the guitar and singing off-key while the drummer is off in la-la land not keeping time, your congregation will have a challenging time worshipping God because their focus is not on Him but being side-tracked by all the distractions. Everyone on stage is a worship leader, not just the singers, and our goal should be to guide the congregation to seek and worship God by using the talents He has given us to the best of our abilities. Once you center your life on God and his promises, you can confidently express the talents God has given you because you are looking to Christ, not yourself.

Brandon Keane is a husband and stepfather, an AVL integrator, guitarist for Century Worship, a volunteer musician and youth leader at Bethel Church in Northwest Indiana. He helped launch an annual worship night event in Northwest Indiana called “Awaken NWI” and is the author of the memoir “The First 39”, being released late summer 2023. You can follow him on Instagram and LinkedIn @brandonmkeane