Monday, February 8, 2016

Goal Setting: Growing Spiritually as a Worship Leader

As a worship leader, I feel like my work is never done. I never feel like a song is complete, so I could practice forever and a day and still feel like a song is never quite ready. There is always a little bit more creativity I could I put into a worship service, a Scripture that fits better, a prayer that needs edited just a bit more. I always feel the need to do 'just a little bit more.'  But there is a problem with my pursuit of perfection. First, it isn't actually attainable. Live music has so many variables that no performance of it will ever be good enough. And second, heading for perfection, rather than excellence, is incredibly time consuming. And that's not good.

Satan wants me to be too busy. He doesn't mind if I spend hours and hours practicing some minuscule part, because all of that time I spend on something unnecessary or unattainable is time that I am not spending with God. And herein lies the problem. 

Ministry is busy - there is always something else to be done, a phone call to be made, a person to see, a song to write, a chord chart to practice, or a rehearsal to plan. But the work of ministry must be second to something else - our time with God. In my opinion, nothing causing ministry burn out faster than letting the busyness of ministry get in the way of growing in our relationship with Christ. 

So the question is, how do we grow spiritually as a worship leader or person in ministry? 

First, I think it's important to realize that this will look different for each person, but certainly is not less critical for anyone. We need to stay connected to God. We cannot help others to worship God, respond to God, or experience God if we are not doing those things ourselves. And, like everything else in my hectic life, if I don't plan it, I won't do it. I find that it works best to make a plan for a 2 to 4 week period, then evaluate to see if it worked, and adjust for the next 2 to 4 week period. This helps me stay flexible for busy seasons like Easter and Christmas, but keeps me on track and disciplined. Without a plan, it just doesn't happen. 

As a mom of 6 small children, it takes a lot of planning. My wee ones are up at 5 and not in bed until 8pm. No matter how hard I try, I cannot get them to nap all at the same time. Someone is always awake and someone is always demanding my attention. And that's ok, because that's what small children need most. My house is big enough to fit our needs, but doesn't leave a lot of space for private, intimate moments with God.  I have to be creative. 

For one thing, getting up earlier doesn't really help. I am too tired at 4am to even think about reading my Bible, much less staying awake for prayer time. I've tried it. And all it did was hurt and make me tired and cranky.  Sure, I can blog with toddlers milling about, I can even practice choir music with my loves playing along side of me. But private time with God? That's much harder to do amidst of a big family. 

I find that I am at my best later in the evening, when the kids are asleep. And while I always have a plethora of work and housework to catch up on, I know I have to prioritize time with God before anything else. And while spending time with God for the sake of a sermon or set list is important, it doesn't usually count for personal prayer and worship.  So I have to set a time when my husband is available to handle a baby feeding or a toddler nightmare, and block it out just for me and God. (Trust me, this is no small feat and I have failed repeatedly).

Sometimes, it works out to just sit down and open my Bible and read something. But I would rather be intentional about what and how I'm reading, in order to give me something to think about and look forward to. has many Bible reading plans that can go straight to your email inbox. One of my favorite plans is to read the Bible in 90 days. It takes a bit of a commitment, but what a great way to get a picture of the Bible as a love letter written to us through the life of Jesus Christ. Sometimes, I like using the Bible on my iPad. Sometimes, I prefer a real book, with printed pages and a space to make notes. Pick the one that works for you right now in this place and time of your life. 

I also like to journal a bit as I spend time with God. I like to journal my prayers, incorporating adoration and praise, confession, thanksgiving, and of course supplication for myself and others. I like to jot down anything from my reading that stands out - perhaps a name of God, an attribute of God, or thoughts that God has given me about His Word. And I like to ponder about what God is doing in my life - where is He at work? What is He working on in my heart? What does He want me to do or to be? Or to stop doing or being? And I try to spend some time just being in God's presence, and being still and listening for Him to speak. 

The more time I spend with God the more I want and need to spend time with Him. Making that time takes a bit of discipline and creativity, but using that time with God restores me and helps me to care for my family and be prepared mentally, emotionally, and spiritually for leading worship. How about you? What methods do you use to grow spiritually? How do you grow closer to God in the midst of a hectic season in life?

Next time, we'll talk about other ways we can spend time with God, to remember that we are always in His presence and continue to grow spiritually. 

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