Posted by Craig Borlase on 22 August 2013

A few days back someone got in touch and asked for some advice on how to make the transition from volunteer to full-time worship leader. Should they use social media as a tool to get some leverage and gain support? How could they tell the difference between God-given calling and own-brand ambition, enthusiasm and excitement?

Here’s a slightly reworked version of the reply…

Hi.

Thank you for writing and being so honest about all this. You sound like a good person with a lot of integrity and a robust faith. 

There's a good chance that what follows will be totally impractical and not at all what you need to read - so I apologise in advance! But if it helps, then that’s great. Either way, I hope you’ll weigh it up, chuck out the rubbish and let God do what God wants to do with any good stuff that remains.

Let me start with a few blunt questions:

1. What do you like about leading worship? 

2. Why do you do it?

3. If you could lead worship at a large-ish event but nobody (including you) would ever remember that you had been there, would you still do it? Really?

4. Part of the church’s mandate is to look out beyond itself and put God’s love into action among those who do not know Him. Your current job brings you into contact with clients, colleagues and others, and allows you to build up good relationships with people outside the church. Being a full time worship leader would mean you spending most of your working life among Christians. My guess is that while there are a lot of people queuing up to be worship leaders, the church is still crying out for brilliant Christians who are prepared to live their faith out loud out there beyond the walls of the church. So, my question is this… why do you want to come back from the front line?


A few blunt thoughts:

1. There's nothing wrong with wanting to be a worship leader, but given the high profile they have within the church today, it's hard to separate calling from desire. Of course, those two have got to be present, but it's finding the right balance between calling and desire that’s so hard (but so important). I'd spend time thinking and praying about how that all sits within you: do you you see the full time worship leader version of yourself as more holy, a better Christian? You probably won't be. Of course God changes and disciples us, but who you are now is for the most part exactly who you would be given a full time worship 'ministry'. Same sins, same insecurities, same hang ups... probably a bit intensified. 

2. I can see why you’re wondering about using social media to create some kind of platform for your ‘ministry’. However, I can’t think of anyone who has really been able to do it it that way. All the full time worship leaders I know started out on staff with a church/ministry. Social media profile is not the cause of a worship leader's financial independence, it's a consequence. 

3. None of us are pure through and through, and our motives are always a fusion of good and less good, but if a need for affirmation is driving your desire to be a full time worship leader (and I'm not saying it is, but if it was you wouldn’t be the first) then you're heading for a crash and it's hard for God to use you. Affirmation is fool’s gold. There will always be someone better known, better loved, better connected than you. I’d ask people you know and trust to be honest with you on this. 

4. I think it’s great to want to be like these worship leaders that you mentioned. They’re great people and it’s a good goal, but I'd be careful not to confuse their circumstance with their character. Strive to be like them if you want to, but don't try to be them. 

5. Keep on being humble, keep on being creative and serving your community - Christian and non - where you are as best you can. Make yourself available and accountable and there's no way God won't use you. And I absolutely guarantee that if you don't get to be a full time worship leader it won't be because God was too busy to make it happen. It’ll be because He has something better in mind.

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