Becoming the Invisible Man
John Cotton, a Puritan preacher who lived in the 16th and 17th century, had some interesting points to consider about musicians and worship leaders.
One such point is that while New Testament scripture instructs on the qualifications for the appointment of elders to teach and preach, there is no such instruction on appointing worship leaders or musicians. Why is that?
In the book, Te Deum, by Paul Westermeyer, the author points out that according to Cotton, singing belongs essentially to the congregation. He goes on to say,
It suggests the uniqueness of the musician’s “office” or “role” or “vocation.” The musician’s job is to get out of the way so the people can in fact sing. The musician turns out to be invisible, in a way the preacher and presider are not.
Preachers, pastors, elders–whatever title–stand out as they are called out. The goal of the musician or singer leading the congregation is that he become so transparent, so see-through, that people look into the nature and character of God in true worship.
Reminds me of a quote from Bob Sorge in his book, Exploring Worship,
…the supreme goal of worship [is] to see only the Lord.
Only the Lord. Sure there may be hundreds or even thousands standing around. There may be lots of activity that would provide distraction. But the power of worship is when all that fades into nothing and your focus is solely on Him.
Part of that is the responsibility of the worship leader and part of that is the responsibility of the worshiper.
As a guy who stands up front playing an instrument and leading songs, it certainly takes effort at times to get the attention off you. Sometimes it takes effort to want to get the attention off you (that was Lucifer’s problem), but it’s completely necessary and by God’s design.
A lot of hard work, time, and resources went into developing musical skills, gaining knowledge, and practicing. There were lessons, classes, chapel services, multiple church services per week, camps, retreats, team practices, and more. Still, the greatest joy is when you know people are “getting it” and seeing beyond you, experiencing His glorious presence.
I know people complimenting me or my music is not always bad or wrong, and I certainly wouldn’t advocate for a false humility of “Oh I have nothing and I’m just a dog.”
But if the greatest recognition I receive is from people who love my songs, my voice, or anything else, I will have failed. I want the greater recognition to be as I stand before the King and He says, “Good job. They got to see Me.”
We may not all be worship leaders, but we all have opportunity to become transparent and allow God’s love, grace, and goodness to be seen in a broken world. And in turn they’ll sing their song of praise.
Worship leader or not, what are your thoughts on this?