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How to Birth Worship Leadership

His birth brought to an end the “vision-drought” (1 Sam. 3: 1) and opened up the nation’s “hearing heart.” His first ministry call however, was to give a direct judgment word to his mentor and guardian, Eli.

Eli was not corrupt; he was weak. Corruption flourished under his weakness. His sons were flagrantly immoral and impervious to correction (2 Sam. 2:22-25). Despite warnings (2:27-36) they continued to “treat the Lord’s offering with contempt” (2:17,29). In the midst of all this, Samuel continued to faithfully “minister before the Lord” (2:11) and continued to “grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with men.”

It is not easy ministering in situations where leadership is not perfect. It is even harder when leadership is weak or defective. In many situations our growing sensitiveness to the Lord can cry out for holy justice.

However, the chief lesson we can learn from Samuel is that despite the vulnerability of his youth and preciousness of his purity he chose to serve both the Lord and Eli with gracious humility, choosing to allow God to again “birth” the next step of kingdom action. As Samuel was obedient at each step, his faithfulness, rather than his enthusiasm, allowed for a greater favor from God.

In any ministry, and particularly the ministry of worship, the integrity of humble faithfulness is the key for the provisioning of the power of the Spirit. A servant’s heart in the context of trustworthiness is what God looks for in the endowment of spiritual authority.

The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD. The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word. And Samuel’s word came to all Israel.

The Christian church body hungers for the genuine heart of the Lord. Any substitute based merely on enthusiasm will deliver disillusionment. Worship leadership that carries with it unresolved relationship issues will bear its fruit of bitterness.
The sacred responsibility of every worship leader coupled with a humble one-heartedness with his or her leadership, is to draw the congregations into that place of one-heartedness with God.

Whether we like it or not, whether we are prepared for it or not, every time we lead worship we invite people to enter the intimate place of our relationship with God. We run that risk of having people actually looking into our own hearts. This is the very real issue of vulnerability.

If people feel uncomfortable with that exposed place of the heart, or sense that there is the existence of unresolved issues, they will either withdraw from entering into worship, or be very guarded during the worship experience. If your people trust your secret place with God as you lay it open before them in worship leadership, they too will enter that intimate place with you with openness, unity and joy!

Image: Esther Tuttle

In his book Worship His Majesty, Jack Hayford comments on the powerful process involved in restoring Adam and Eve. He makes the following statement:

God’s redemptive program is found in worship.

There is an impressive symmetry in this. Man’s relationship and rule under God has been rooted and sustained in worship. Now, just when both seemed irretrievably lost God set forth a received plan. With unsurprising consistency, yet with an amazing simplicity, this plan also centers on worship! There is no show of power. No display of cosmic almightiness. No instant smashing of the serpent. No fury leveled at the guilty.

Instead there is an introduction to a humble act of worship. The Redeemer’s grace seems to exceed even His power as he sets forth to recover for His beloved creature all that had been lost. Yet the program is not as one might expect. For its hidden power is in the reinstatement of worship rather than in a demonstration of might. The mightiness will flow from worship.


From Worship Update (1st Quarter 1996), “How to Birth Worship Leadership” ©1996 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing, P.O. Box 68025, Anaheim, CA 92817-0825. USA. Used by Permission.

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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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