This month is my turn to submit a blog entry for the EF Generation Team that I serve on, so I thought I’d share an excerpt from my upcoming book, He Who Honors Me: Keeping God at the Center of Worship Leading which I wrote with Derek Joseph of Isaiah Six. There’s a lot more to this but here’s a small sample. Look for the book release in May 2010…it’s just a few weeks away! We feel it will be a great resource for pastors, youth pastors/leaders, worship leaders/teams in churches and ministries of all sizes. This is from one of my chapters called Honor Your Leader:
Leaders in the church are often treated like Jesus—people either love them or want to crucify them. Suffice it to say: leaders have a tough job.
I’ll never forget learning this firsthand when in 2002 I was asked to serve as a youth pastor while attending seminary. During those years I felt completely like a fish out of water! Instead of being in my comfort zone behind a guitar or keyboard, I now had to stand behind a pulpit every week. Not only that, I had to counsel students, cast vision, address conflicts, recruit volunteers, meet with parents, plan events, and balance budgets, all while trying to stay fresh and relevant in my preaching and maintain some semblance of sanity. I quickly realized how much work went into leading a ministry! And as any leader knows, you can give to the best of your ability and it still doesn’t seem good enough.
I ate a lot of humble pie in those days, along with many nights wondering why I accepted the position. In the midst of those struggles, various people would send a note of thanks or a token of appreciation to honor me. Though certainly grateful, accepting these gifts was difficult because I felt unworthy of honor. My understanding at the time was that honor was only due to those who were doing a good job.
God used this season as a youth pastor to teach me that my ministerial performance was nearly irrelevant when it came to honor. There was honor due me as a leader in two ways. One took the form of genuine gratitude from people for my personal investment in them or the difference made in their lives through my ministry. This was easy to understand. The other was people honoring me for the office I held, even if they weren’t my biggest fans or disagreed with my decisions and methods. One of the places Paul addresses honor and authority is in the first half of Romans 13. After touching on various civil government leaders and authorities, he offers verse 7 as the bottom line: “Render to all men their dues. Pay taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, and honor to whom honor is due.” Simply put, leaders are due honor by virtue of their office. After standing on that side of the worship leader/pastor fence, I had a much greater appreciation for those who manned the lead seat. God helped me apply these lessons to my own leaders and walk in honor toward them. I was on a journey to respecting the office, not just the person sitting in it.
Every worship leader will eventually bump up against the “honor your leader” test. Our gifts will only get us so far. Walking in dishonor towards leadership will eventually disqualify us from the privilege of serving in ministry. Friend, you have a greater legacy in store for you than being remembered as an arrogant person or someone too talented for your own good. Cultivate a healthy relationship with your leader and guard your heart against pride, self-centeredness, and unhealthy ambitions. Let’s align ourselves with the Word of God on this issue, partner with our leaders to build the kingdom, and flow in a pure anointing.