Leading worship is a strange thing. The purpose of the team is to serve the congregation, supporting people as they offer worship to God. Yet, so often, they lead from a raised platform, drawing much of the visual focus to themselves. If our hearts are not in the right place as worship leaders, it is all too easy to think that it’s about us. It’s not. We can all too easily act like stereotypical rock stars: worried that we get the great riffs or whether we sound good enough that people recognise our talents. Of course, not many people would openly admit to that, but subconsciously it’s an all too regular occurrence. God has called us to a very different style of leadership.
We are called to be roadies, not rock stars.
When we think of David, we often think of his incredible slaying of the mighty Goliath, but it is easy to miss the phenomenal lessons that can be gleaned from his life before this epic moment. In 1 Samuel 16, David is anointed as future king of Israel. Imagine you were in his shoes at this point. What would you do? Personally, I would probably survey the palace and pick out the biggest flat screen television I could find! I certainly wouldn’t act the same way knowing that the entire kingdom would be under my command. But that’s exactly what David does. In fact, 1 Samuel 16:19 tells us that David goes back to tending the sheep, continuing his life as a lonely shepherd boy. The preceding verse describes David as a skilful musician, a man of valour, a man of war, prudent in speech, a man of good presence and that the Lord is with him.
Although David was destined for greatness, it was in the wilderness and quiet times with God that his character was formed. It is possible that it was even during this time that he wrote Psalm 23, stating that the Lord was his shepherd. He didn’t strive for the limelight; instead, he spent time alone in the presence of God and allowed his heavenly Father to shape him. Often, we are quick to seek the attention of others when in fact, God wants to shape us and grow our character in those quiet places with Him.
Although David was destined for greatness, it was in the wilderness and quiet times with God that his character was formed.
As time progresses, Saul eventually invites David into his courtrooms, before David’s father, Jesse has a task for him. 1 Samuel 17 tells us that David was sent, along with some grain, cheese and bread for the armies on the front lines in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines. Have you ever realised how interesting this is before?
David was anointed to be the king. In other words, he would not have been blamed for having an extremely high opinion of himself. How dare anyone ask the future king of Israel to carry bread and cheese to the front lines of the battlefield! More than that, David would have had to carry this food through the desert; the cheese would surely have smelled disgusting! Here’s the interesting part: David didn’t complain about carrying the stinky cheese. The man who was anointed to be king simply did what was required of him.
My friend Matt once asked me a question that has forever stuck with me: “would you be willing to carry the stinky cheese?” Maybe that means tidying up after a rehearsal is finished or coming to church early to rehearse your specific section of a song. You might not get the glory or the limelight, but it might be just the thing that serves the kingdom of God best in that moment.
David’s attitude was quite astounding. He had all the ingredients necessary to turn his attitude into a rock star mentality – where everything was about his glory and fame. Instead, he chose to live like a roadie. A roadie is the person who helps carry equipment in and out of a rock concert, sets up everything and generally does the dirty work in order for the show to go well. David did whatever was required of him to serve God, just as Jesus did in a perfect example of sacrificial, selfless worship to the Father.
As members of a worship team, it is our responsibility to act like roadies, not rock stars; to remember that we are servants and that it isn’t about our fame or glory. It’s never, ever, ever about how much we get to play or how well everyone can hear us. It’s about doing whatever it takes to help lead our congregation into passionate, heartfelt worship of our Lord.