How To Lead Worship When You’re Empty
For all of us, often times we get hit with just the average day-to-day life. Life is messy. Sometimes it’s hard to remember and keep our head in the game, and keep our head focused on what our task is and what we’re called to do. The other things are really important, but what do you do with that? How do you prepare for that? What do you do when life deals you those everyday normal blows that have a tendency to distract you from leading worship?
Whether it’s fights with your spouse in a Saturday night before you know you have to lead the next morning or you can’t find your kids shoes for the next day or you give into a moment of temptation during the week, and you just feel beaten up. “Like God, I’m not even worthy to take the stage because I’ve had my mind in the gutter, I’ve been distracted by something. I feel powerless, I feel unworthy, I’m on empty.”
Remember And Respond
This is the problem we all face, and we feel that way a lot in this life. We’re on this Earth, we’re living in this place; this crazy place. The solution is to connect. We want you to connect to the truth of who God is, what he’s done, and who you are, by remembering and by responding. We call this R&R.
First we’re going to talk about what we need to remember. To renew our mind we have to focus our mind on the truth. Right out of the gate we want to remember His glory. Exodus 33:18-23 says, “Moses said now show me your glory, you cannot see my face for no one may see me and live.”
I want us to remember that worship begins with the Glory of God.
God’s glory is majestic and His Glory is deadly. I forget that a lot of times. I forget the God I’m representing has the power to stop my heart anytime he wants. All through the Old Testament there were encounters with His Glory where people died, where they were carrying the Arch of the Covenant and he said, “Don’t touch this because my glory’s in this box.”
It’s deadly and I forget that. I try to make God commonplace to fit into what I’m doing, but as a worship leader you are carrying the Glory of God and it’s a deadly presence. It’s so powerful. Remember in Psalm 19:1 it says, “The Heavens declare the Glory of God, the skies proclaim the works of His hands. Sometimes it helps me to look up at night and remember that His Glory is displayed in creation. If you’re driving into lead at church in the morning, the sun’s coming up, look at the Heaven’s, look at what creation is screaming. It’s screaming that God is glorious. Focus on that and remember that you’re part of that. You’re part of reflecting that as you get up to lead people.
Hebrews 1:3 says, “That the sun is the radiance of God’s Glory and the exact representation of His being sustaining all things by His powerful word.” We have in the Old Testament David talking about God’s Glory being displayed in nature. We have Moses coming into an encounter with God where His Glory was so great it gave him a holy sunburn and he came down and he was glowing. Now in Hebrews we have the writer saying that Jesus The Son of God is the exact representation of God’s Glory. God’s Glory is making His way in the story to us.
John 1:14 says, “The word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, we have seen His Glory, the glory of the one and only Son who came from The Father full of grace and truth.”
We want to remember His Glory and we want to remember our story.
God’s Glory made its way to our story. This is an amazing thing that God did. He didn’t have to. He could have remained deadly and so glorious that we couldn’t draw near to him, but he choose to come to us in the form of Jesus His Son to be able to draw close to us, and serve us and show us what He is like, what His Glory is truly like.
The second piece of this is to remember your story. We all have a story. I want to tell you the most true thing about you right now, and I want you to remember this no matter what circumstances come your way. I didn’t understand this as a believer until I was about twenty-eight-years-old, and it revolutionized my marriage, it revolutionized the way that I parented, it revolutionized the way that I related to people. More importantly for what we’re talking about, it radically changed the way that I led people in worship.
This is who you are. Ephesians 2:12-13 says this, “Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise without hope and without God in the world, but now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by The Blood of Christ.”
Point one of your story, you were separated. You had no business being near to God. God came near to you through Christ, and by his blood you have access to Him now.
Check this out. Galatians 2:20 says this. This is my life verse I claim it all the time, I love it. It’s the most true thing about me, it’s the most true thing about you. Paul says this, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, the life I live in the body I live by faith and The Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”
This is what I didn’t understand about this verse, and only God can accomplish this. When Jesus Christ died on the cross two thousand years ago in Earthly time on this Earth, you were in his body. He represented you. He carried you to the cross, He crucified you with him so that by you placing your faith in his death on the cross you became immediately identified. Even before you were born Christ died for you. He knew that you would be His child. That is powerful.
Sometimes in the midst of the chaos I’ve got to go back to the cross. I’ve got to go back and go, “You know what Lord, I’m not going to live under this condemnation right now because I realize that you died my death and I was in you when that happened.” You hung on the cross with Jesus because he hung for you.
Galatians 3:1-7 says this, “Since then you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on Earthly things.”
You have been raised with Christ and you are seated with him in the heavenly realms. Right now as you watch this video you are brought to life by Christ. Two thousand years ago when he raised from the dead you were in him; identified in him because he is your life. When you trusted him as your Savior you were locked and loaded with Jesus, connected with him. He’s in you, you are in him while He was walking this Earth. You’ve died with him on the cross. You’ve been raised to new life through his resurrection once for all time.
When your heart stops beating on this Earth, you are not dying. You’ve already died the physical death. Jesus did it for you. Your spirit will live forever and he will carry you with him to glory. We have no fear of death. That’s what Jesus says. He says don’t fear what man can do to the body, I’ve taken care of that. I took care of that on the cross, I took care of that with my resurrection.
Then Ephesians 2: 4-7 check this out, “But because of his great love for us God who is rich in mercy made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions. It is by grace you have been saved and God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. In order then the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.”
You are now, as you read this, seated with him in the heavenly realms. You are at the right hand of The Father. How’s that possible Todd? You ask me. It’s possible because of The Holy Spirit. When Jesus left this Earth he said it’s going to be good for you that I go away because someone whose going to come and comfort you, to lead you into all truth, be liked, be your hope, he inhabits us by his spirit. He can inhabit every person who believes.
When Jesus was on the Earth it was just him, just one. By leaving the Earth he left us his spirit, that by faith we received as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance and linking us up in that one reception of his grace and mercy to his death on the cross, you have died, his resurrected life, you have risen from the dead. Now your position is that you’re seated at the right hand of The Father.
Whether you are a worship leader, musician, pastor, whoever’s reading this. You’re a saint. Paul addresses believers as saints. It’s a beautiful word because a saint is not something that we attain to. The saint is something that Jesus already attained for us, and by us receiving this gift of his life, his spirit inhabiting us. God looks at us as his saints. We are righteous because of Jesus.
If we were righteous because of anything else that we attempted to do, this would be not a great story, but we are righteous because of the perfect life lived for us in Jesus Christ. As well as a spiritual story which should blow us all away we have an Earthly story, and I want you to remember your Earthly story. It’s important too.
I want to share about a few things that are part of my Earthly story. My grandfather’s name was Ted Robinson, and I have his Bible. He’s not here. He passed away. When I lead worship I carry him and my memory of him, and the man that he was, and the fact that Jesus saved his life and he’s not gone. I carry that in me guys when I lead worship. I carry the fact that my grandparents aren’t here anymore.
You’ve got memories of people you’ve walked this Earth with, and when you lead worship you’re not alone, they’re with you. They’re in heaven with saints and angels join in a big song. It’s not just this Earthly song you’re singing as you lead. It’s a heavenly song that’s going on. It’s a song that’s going to go on for the ages, so remember you have these memories.
I have a picture of my wife Carrie when she was little. She’s precious and God’s done an amazing act in our marriage, in our life. We’ve got four precious boys and I carry the memory of Carrie and the journey we’ve been on as I lead worship. It’s good that I do that. It reminds me that God has been good, that he’s accomplished so much in our marriage and life. I carry that boldly.
Now for a totally crazy departure from anything spiritual. There’s music that’s impacted my story. One of my favorite albums is the Beach Boys Pet Sounds. It rocked my world when I was in high school. I remember lying in my basement listening to this on my turntable and thinking, God how can music be so beautiful? It was amazing, it rocked my world.
You have a story that’s an Earthly story of memories and relationships and experiences, and things that you like and things that you dislike, and I want you to remember this. It’s like when you lead worship you have a bookcase behind you, and all these different components of your story are reminders and mementos of God’s faithfulness.
Sometimes there’s painful reminders, sometimes there’s mountaintops but you carry that with you every time you walk out on stage. You’re not alone. We’re behind you, other worship leaders are behind you, angels are behind you. We’re joining in a massive song and a massive story. Remember his glory, remember your story. Both spiritual and Earthly, and then we want to have a response.
Respond With Thanksgiving
This is the second part of R&R. We want to respond with Thanksgiving.
We’ve got the story so what are we going to do with it? Well we’re going to respond and that’s what worship is.
Psalm 105 says this, “Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him, tell of all his wonderful acts.” Praise is our response. Our private praise, the praise that’s in our heart that we just say in our mind to God. The praise we voice out in a large sanctuary and congregation of people. We need to make a loud response because he’s done a great work in us, in our stories.
Secondly, First Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances, this is God’s will for you.” We want to respond with that thanksgiving in all circumstances. This is how we worship. Great day, bad day; give thanks. Carrie calls, “Todd, home is not great.” Give thanks, “God thank you that I’m alive in you, I was crucified, raised with you. Thank you that you’ve been faithful in my story.” We renew our mind. We set our mind on His Glory, our story, and then respond with thanks.
Guys and girls, lead a powerful response in your churches. You are not alone. Lead a powerful response to this amazing story.
Respond With Our Living
Secondly, after we’ve responded with thanksgiving, we want to respond with our living. I love Romans 12:1. It says, “Therefore I urge you brothers in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual act of worship.”
The way we live off stage is the loudest song we will ever sing.
We’ve said that in previous modules and we’re going to keep reminding you of that over and over again.
When we are on empty we want to remember His Glory. We want to remember our story and then we want to respond with thanksgiving and respond with our living.
Say that one more time. Remember His Glory. Remember your story. Respond with thanksgiving. Respond with your living.
We want you to share this with your team. We want you to memorize it, to print it out. We want you to go over it personally, by yourself, and with the members of your team at your church. We want you to go on a retreat with your team, get out of the building, and man, just camp out on this for a season.
I promise it will radically change the way you renew your mind, the way you lead, and God will use it to re-center yourself in the truth of who you really are as a Christian, and it’ll let you lead with power and authority because you’re not leading based on your circumstances, you’re leading on the truth of who Jesus is, what he’s done, your position in him.
Let’s all remember and respond well to this glorious gospel together.