, ,

I recently left the morning worship service during the offering prayer, because I didn’t have the music for the offertory. You should have seen the looks on the A/V crews’ faces! I found the only copy in existence buried in the pastor’s office and made it back just in time…all the while hoofing it in heels! This past Sunday, our rehearsal was rough – our technical crew all showed up late and some of my worship team members were AWOL. It all gives new meaning to the expression “Grace Under Pressure”, and it’s certainly not the first time things have gone askew.

In a recent Facebook Post in a group for Worship Leaders, someone posed this question:

“What is your greatest, consistent (often irrational) fear when it comes to leading worship?”

Here are some of the predictable and unpredictable responses, not all born from irrational fear but from frightening realities:

  • forgetting to set alarm clock at home
  • no water – mouth so dry
  • needing to pee in the middle of a set
  • yawning, hiccuping or belching into the mic
  • forgetting the lyrics/words on screen not matching what you’re singing
  • chipping or breaking a tooth on the mic
  • tripping over the stairs, the stand or each other
  •  putting the guitar capo in the wrong spot
  • getting so “into” worship results in a head butt to mic
  • voice cracks/squeaks at the worst possible time
  • meshing words together to create new ones (e.g., sin+shame=shilame, father+king=fahking)
  • leading with eyes closed, arms raised…and fly down
  • choking on own spit
  • missing page 2 of music
  • team member goes “rogue” in the middle of a song, and the other team members get that look of horror and confusion on their faces, and the congregation picks up on it
  • breaking a G string
  • messy sneeze all over mic
  • getting the giggles when pastor is praying
  • backing away from mic to let congregation sing only to be met with silence
  • stuck in repetitive loop or worse, develops verbal diarrhea while praying
  • starting a song in the wrong key from everyone else
  • sneaking a sip of water and missing mouth – kersplash!
  • dropping guitar and ripping pants while picking it up
  • toilet paper stuck on shoe
  • falling off the platform
  • becoming tongue-tied, or worse, babbling incoherently with no end in sight
  • fainting
  • technical failure
  • throwing one page too many on the floor
  • dropping a cuss word
  • singing off-key
  • stockings fall down
  • losing guitar pick
  • accidentally bump mic stand and it bounces back and hits you again 3 stooges style
  • stuck in a pre-service poop

One of my own personal fears happened two years ago, when a team member started the intro to a song…but not the right song. He ignored the lyrics on the screen in front of him, and the loud whispering of the pastor in the front seat, in front of him (as well as assorted hissing from the congregation). He finally stopped and apologized, saying he had the wrong song open on his stand. He then proceeded to start playing again…the same wrong song. Thanks to a quick thinking A/V crew, another pastor, and the other members of our team, we went with it. During the offertory, I took off like a shot to the back to tell the crew we would be doing the original song at the beginning of the next set. Yes, in heels! A few people chuckled when I announced the original song, and we went on from there. That team member had no clue what had happened until the end of the service. And now…every time we play together…I panic a little!

Ernest Hemingway wrote “Courage is grace under pressure”. It takes grace to round up a group of volunteers and stand together as a team, in front of people who are often all too happy to point out mistakes. Not always graciously I might add. It takes dedication to practice, to roll out of bed early to set up, and to stay late to clean up. It takes sensitivity to choose songs that will flow together musically and in their message. And it takes courage to face the fear and insecurity of speaking/singing in public, and yes, to laugh at the mistakesbtoo. Worship leaders do it, week after week, not because we’re gluttons for punishment or because we’re awesome. We love the Lord and He has asked us to share our gifts this way. God said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9 NIV).