Category Archives: Devotion

Loving God Through Worship

Rarely do I share sermons, but I stumbled upon this one tonight and was profoundly touched.  It is especially appropriate for those of us who labor in worship ministries.  The sermon is preached by Brian Bloye, lead pastor of West Ridge Church in the metro Atlanta area.  I hope that you will be blessed.  (By the way, check out their website at http://www.westridge.com; some truly interesting things for worship ministry there.)

 

http://vimeo.com/27407523

 

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When Offenses Come

Let’s face it……we are all going to be offended at some point in our ministry.  Matthew 18:7 makes it pretty clear that offenses must come into the life of every believer.  It’s a sad fact, but a part of life.  Offenses may come from various sources; family members, colleagues, leaders, and congregants can all be guilty.  Some are malicious in their intentions while others are lashing out due to a misunderstanding, ignorance, or personal hurt.  While it is clear that offenses will come, how we respond to the offense is where the real battle takes place.

When my senior pastor preached on this very topic a few months ago, one statement stuck with me more than any other:  “Hurt people hurt people.”  (It’s not a typo……read it several times and let its meaning sink into your core.)  There are two truths to be seen here.  First, notice that the initial response when we are offended is to get even…..to hurt someone else as much as we have been hurt.  That’s humanity in us.  No wonder Jesus said that we are to “bless those who curse us.”  (Luke 6:28).  That action is so contrary to our natural response that the fruit of His spirit abiding in us in clearly evident.

It is also important for us who work in ministry to see that the one doing the damage is probably severely damaged himself.  They have been hurt by people’s comments or things are going on in their life that we can never fully know.   That shows us why Jesus continues His instructions by telling us to “pray for those who mistreat you.”  When I actually pray for the one who has offended me, a few things happen.  First, I begin to see that person with the eyes of Christ.  While I am praying for the guilty one, I am also allowing the Holy Spirit to do a work within me…..eliminating all the vile feelings I might harbor against the individual.

Is it possible to avoid being offended?  Not according to Jesus’ statement in Matthew 18, but I think that we can be aware of the circumstances that create offense and make sure we are on high alert in those seasons.  For instance, in my personal life I know that three things make me susceptible to being easily offended.  At the top of the list is extreme tiredness.  This tends to be accompanied by stressful situations in ministry.  During these seasons, I know that I have to insure that I spend additional time in prayer and Bible reading to make sure my heart remains pure and that I constantly “guard my heart.” (Proverbs 4:23)  The other two issues are actually relationships that I know I have to avoid;  I’m not rude to these individuals.  I simply know that I need to avoid interacting with them for prolonged periods of time.  I am thankful to say that two of these situations are getting better all the time and I am learning to handle the challenges with victory.

However, there are times when it seems as though someone is simply out to cause us offense as a sport.  They repeatedly wreak havoc on our world and seek to destroy our ministry.  What do we do in these situations?  I’m facing one of those periods right now.  I don’t have a solid answer to share with you, but I will tell you the verse that I am reminding myself of daily:  “How are they increased that trouble me?  Many are they that rise up against me…….But You, O Lord, are a shield for me — my Glory and the Lifter of my head.  I will not be afraid of ten thousand people who have set themselves against me all around.”  (Psalm 3:1-3; 6)

Lessons from Kenaniah

In I Chronicles 15, we read of Israel making preparations to move the Ark of the Covenant to the temple.  I believe verse 22 of that chapter provides some important insight for us as worship leaders.  The writer informs us that “Kenaniah, the head Levite, was chosen as the choir leader because of his skill.”  Let’s take a few minutes together and explore this verse and mine for its treasures.

First, we notice that Kenaniah is named as a Levite.  The Law of Moses teaches us that Levites were priests, responsible for service to the nation of Israel.  They were the ones who led the people in responses of repentance, praise, and consecration to the Lord.  On a regular basis, the Levites would interact with the most holy items of the temple and intentionally come into the presence of Jehovah.  As worship leaders, it is crucial that we remember that our role in the congregation is much more than just a job or assignment; we are performing a solemn responsibility of assisting our community to respond to a Holy God!  Let’s ever be mindful of the task we have and the necessity of spending personal time in the presence of the Lord in order to prepare for corporate worship.

Next, we see that Kenaniah was chosen as the leader.  If you are like me, this may be one of the most difficult parts of music ministry.  As musicians, we often struggle with our personal issues of self-esteem and feelings that others are constantly evaluating our performances against some undefined standard.  We also know that musicians can be cruel, disguising biting comments as constructive criticism.  The fact remains, however, that in order to have a choir, orchestra, or any other type of team there must be a leader — someone given the authority to make tough decisions.  Will everyone agree with the decisions you make?  No!  Are there multiple ways to do the job?  Of course.  Regardless of how you feel about your skills as a leader, recognize that you have been placed in your current ministry position by God Himself and not by man.  Take comfort in realizing that our God specializes in making something great out of nothing.  Just as Christ fed a multitude with a boy’s simple lunch, we trust that He will feed His children spiritually through our offerings….no matter how meager they may seem.

Lastly, notice that Kenaniah was placed in a position of leadership because of his skill.  In a constantly changing musical world, it is imperative that we continually pursue excellence.  Never allow yourself to buy into the lie that the status quo is good enough.  As ministers, we must constantly evaluate ourselves for spiritual maturity, musical growth, and leadership development.  We are human, so there will always be a need to improve in all of these areas.  Ask the Heavenly Father today to point out the area that He wants to begin developing in you and follow His direction.  You may find that you need to spend more time in prayer and study.  At another point, you may feel an urge to align yourself with a fellow musician in the area, to read books (or blogs like this one), or to enroll in a class of some sort.  Whatever the personal call in your pursuit of excellence, know that the investment of your time will ultimately bring great reward to your ministry, yourself, and those you lead.

Music minister, walk this week in the confidence that you have been called by God Himself to lead His people in worship.  He did not choose you to mold you into the image of another leader, so stop comparing yourself to others around you.  Seek His face and allow Him to point out areas that need attention and development as He also delights in you as His favored creation and the apple of His eye.