[Word count: 487. Approximate read time: 2-3 minutes]
Prayer, in its simplest form, is communication with God. Some prayers are spoken, some not. I can recognize a prayer anywhere. In church or out of church. But I have no idea what worship is anymore.
Peoples’ definitions often conflict. Some see others lifting hands, shouting, singing, and dancing in church and that’s worship. Some speak broadly and say everything they do is worship. The Bible even says giving tithes is worship. It’s hard to get a reliable authority to nail it down. The more people badly define worship, the less I understand what it is.
And then some big prophet flies into the church on a hot air balloon, with a new revelation about an old scripture few have read or understand. And he or she will announce:
“Stop! You’re worshipping God wrong!”
— Yikes! I am? Well… how do I worship him right?
“Worship is not mere words, it’s the intention of your heart.”
— But I thought my intentions were good.
“It’s service to God. It’s how you live your life.”
— Do I need to live… better?
“No, you just need to surrender more!”
— Surrender more what? How do I put that in practice?
“Surrender everything! Don’t kick against the pricks.”
— What? I don’t understand what you’re talking about.
“If you submit to God, he will show you. If he doesn’t show you, you haven’t fully submitted.”
— Wait. That’s circular logic. Did anybody else catch that?
“But worship is simple. Anybody can worship.”
— Damnit?! I’m really trying here! What IS it? Are we doing it yet?
“That ain’t it. You don’t get it. THIS is it!”
— You know what? Forget it. I quit.
I tried everything. I fasted, I read. I studied, sought counsel, and I waited. I stuck my right leg in. I took my right leg out. I did the whole hokey pokey and by the time I got done turning myself around, I was dizzy. And frustrated, and angry, and ready to quit.
How can an employee perform well if you don’t give a job description? How can you proceed confidently when you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing? I just want to know I’m right. I’m tired of being wrong.
Can I offer a solution?
(1) Every working team needs achievable goals. Sometimes the things asked of people in ministry seem superhuman. That leads to frustration and disappointment and people quitting.
(2) Ask yourself if you really know what worship is. If you learned by imitating someone else, then like me, maybe you’re just wrong. And if you don’t know anything, please just admit that. People are usually less upset that you can’t fly if you tell them before they get on your plane.
“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” ―Albert Einstein
What is YOUR definition of worship? How do YOU do it?
This is #5 in a 5-part series called Exit Wounds: Song of an Ex-Worship Leader.
Read the introduction here. You just read “So You Think You Can Worship?”
- PART 1: The Miseducation of the Worship Leader [1/5]
— Whatever worship is, I thought it was more powerful than it actually is. When I found out how mystical it wasn’t, I could not deal. I wish someone would have done a better job warning me worship wouldn’t protect me from life happening.
- PART 2: Church Superstars: You Ain’t Got It [2/5]
— Music was one thing I was sure I was good at, so to hear that I wasn’t good enough was crushing. It left me unsure of “my calling,” and doubting whether I was good at anything.
- PART 3: More Than You Know What To Do With [3/5]
— Help. I don’t fit in church, but I don’t know how to get outside of it. What do I do now?
- PART 4: Performance vs. Worship: When Keeping It Real Is Wrong [4/5] — The act of worshipping in front of an audience blurred the lines between what was for God and what was for people.
- PART 5: So You Think You Can Worship? [5/5] — The hokey-pokey dance of trying to understand what worship is and isn’t left me confused. I’m still not sure what it is right now.