Posted by: worshipguitarguy | July 26, 2006

Vision: Part 1

About two years ago I went through a period of asking myself, “What is my vision as a lead worshipper, especially as an electric guitar player?”  (Note: for me, a worship leader isn’t just the lead singer or lead instrument, we as band members are in a sense worship leaders too.)  Well, the cookie-cutter answers like “to serve God”, or “to use my talents for Him” came to mind, but somehow those answers didn’t give me focus or vision.  After all, the whole idea of a vision is to give a sense of direction that keeps me focused and on-track.  It wasn’t until I ran across something worship leader Paul Baloche said, that the light bulb really went off.  I’m paraphrasing here, but his words were essentially “Our purpose as worship leaders is to minimize the distractions or roadblocks that hinder people from experiencing the Holy Spirit.”   

At first, those were some big words.  But when I broke them down, I came away with two different things: 

1.  I can’t bring God’s presence into the building:  I think this is one of those “duh” statements, but sometimes I find myself subconsciously forgetting it.  In a worship set, there’s usually always something wrong that competes for my attention.  I worry about how my tone sounds in the house, I’m concerned about my volume levels, I can’t hear myself through the monitor, or worse yet, what I hear through the monitor sounds terrible.  If I’m not careful, I get distracted by the circumstances surrounding me instead of focusing on what’s really important, which is engaging my heart in worshipping God.   Tone is important, technical skill is wonderful, great mixes make things sound cool, but last time I checked, these things can’t make someone experience the Holy Spirit.  As a guitarist with vision, I have to remind myself to let the “Big Picture” shape my circumstances, instead of letting my circumstances shape my worship.     

2.  I should minimize the distractions I can control (or create) during a worship set.  Distractions come in all shapes and sizes.  If you’ve been around worship music long enough, I’m sure you’ve suffered through a set with an out of tune guitarist, or been in a room where the volume was just too loud.  In those situations, I tend to focus on the distraction, instead of the message and heartbeat of the song.

As guitarists, some distractions we can’t control, but many of them we can.  For example, I try to come to practice each week knowing the songs (and parts) I’m going to play.  If we’re working on a new song, I’ll download it on iTunes before practice and listen to it throughout the week.  Then I’ll sit down during my own personal practice time and work through it.  I don’t try to pull out new riffs or parts if I’ve really struggled with them in practice.  If something’s slightly beyond my technical ability, I’ll usually drop it, or at least simplify it until I can play it cleanly.  I also learn my equipment inside and out, and I don’t try new gear out unless I’ve had time to practice with it first.  And last but not least, I’m always checking my tuning.  These are all simple ideas, but they really reduce stress on stage, and can keep me from being a distraction during the set.

In part 2, we’ll look at some practical ways to avoid being a distraction when playing. 

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Responses

  1. The ‘distraction principle’ is a big one for me. One of my famous statements about being a worship leader is that my role is to help people draw near to God (Heb 10:22). Whilst God is always present, we allow daily distractions from acknowledging Him and focussing on who He is. When people come together to meet, it is an opportunity to help people throw off all those things that stop them from drawing near to God (the world, their worries, their sin, even their success). The irony is the worship leader and the team can just as easily be distracted. That said, I try to make it my goal to throw myself at God’s feet and be willing to see Him work in spite of my weaknesses and all the technical frustrations.

    Thanks for posting this series, really great stuff.

  2. Well said Rodd, thanks for sharing!


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