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How to Birth Worship Leadership

More than 3000 years have passed since King David paused from his dancing to make a sacrifice as he transported the Ark of God the place of God’s enthroned Presence from its place of isolation to its place of prominence in the nations’ capital.

However, history’s course has been marked much more by sacrifice than by praise. There is an interrupting parallel between the sequence of events in the two books of Samuel and the events that constitute our worship history since the birth of the Christian church. Historically we have come out of the period of “ark isolation” into a time where in worship God’s authority, provision and presence is being reestablished.

David, the man who became king, first became a man by discovering the heart of God in the context of worship. God, however, had already moved prior to David by raising a prophetic leadership voice that called for the rule of God’s heart. Samuel “prepared the way” for David as centuries later John “prepared the way” for Jesus.

Worship has always been the means by which God has sought to reestablish his rule and restore relationship with His people. The context of 1st & 2nd Samuel does concern itself with the immediate and intimate details of the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel, but it also carries potent illustrations pertinent to worship and worship leadership. It is with this worship leadership emphasis that we look again at the story.

The first book of Samuel opens with the account of Hannah, the despised one, yet doubly loved by her husband (1 Sam. 1:5-6), going before God, whom she believed had caused her barrenness (v. 6), and with unconscious emotion pours out her petition for a son.

In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD. And she made a vow, saying, “O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life” (1 Sam. 1:10-11).

Hannah is accused of drunkenness by Eli the high Priest and told to go and sober up! She stands her ground and is promised that she will receive what she asked for. Samuel is born, and Hannah, true to her word, returns her God-given gift back to Him.

I prayed for this child and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD. (1 Sam. 1:27-28)

I have often wished that God would “think ahead” and grant me what he wants for me before I have to struggle for it. It is only in hindsight, and sometimes only with “loud” hindsight, that I have discovered that the very purposeful pursuing of what I believe God has laid on my heart has, in its tough passage, provided me with the heart of what it was all about. It is this very characteristic we call “heart” that is the focus of God’s intentions, and the source of relationship. In Hannah’s case, God was not just interested in the birth of a child, but in giving birth to a servant-hearted prophetic kingdom.
I was in two-day pastors’ gathering not long ago in Melbourne, Australia. Our purpose was solely to ascertain what God was saying about church leadership coming together to pray. One of the pastors made a comment that I will not forget. He said, “We’re not here to launch another program, we’re here to see what God is birthing…if we merely launch another program it will simply die, but if God births what is in His heart, what comes will bring life!”

Giving birth is an arduous and painful process, but the joy in what has been born puts pain behind. Hannah, with bitter tears cried out for a son. Ridicule resulted. Her perseverance paid off. She not only gave birth to a son, she mothered a prophetic leader “whose words never fell to the ground.” Samuel, whose name means “heard of God” inaugurated a new kingdom era for Israel that led to the greatest king they ever had.

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Category: Ministry, Spring 2001

About the Author: David Crabtree wrote articles about leading worship for Vineyard Music Group publications in the 1990’s.

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