for the Essentials In Worship Leading Certificate Course with Dan Wilt
To Know You More: Cultivating the Heart of the Worship Leader by Andy Park is full of wisdom and advice for those called to lead worship. Jumping into worship leading as a complete novice, Andy shares from the unique perspective of one who has learned through life experience and has successfully cultivated a heart of worship in his own personal life that has sustained his ability to lead in the public eye for so many years. Andy says, “The most effective trait of a worship leader is a deep love for God and a willingness to express it” . It is obvious as Andy writes that this is what he has.
In the first section, he shares about his own personal journey and the importance of being a worshipper first and foremost in private. “…songs are simply a byproduct of a life-giving relationship with God” . As a worship leader, I must give first priority to my own relationship with God and allow all other activities to flow from that place. Cultivating that place with the Lord privately shields me when temptation comes.
“Being content while others receive more opportunities and favor from people and God has to be one of the top ten most important issues for a worship leader” . The enemy is quick to whisper words of competition and jealousy when someone else gets an opportunity that I have longed for. Trusting God to fulfill His plans and purposes for me over my fears helps me to stay focused on the Lord instead of on what I am not getting to do. Andy shares about his struggles in this area stating, “Rejoicing in the success of others isn’t easy when you feel you’re at the bottom of the heap” . No, it isn’t. Doing it anyway, however, is an opportunity to grow in humility and trust.
Andy also knows what it is like to experience favor from God and man. “John Wimber used to say that tough times are not the greatest test for a leader – the times of exaltation and success are” . Proverbs 27:21b says that “man is tested by the praise he receives.” In Dealing with the Praise and Rejection of Man, Bob Sorge says that ”Rejection and praise are opposite ends of the same continuum with identical root issues.” Learning to deal with rejection by creating the habit of going to God to see what He thinks will serve me well when I receive the praise of man. Regardless, I must go to God to see what He thinks. It is all that matters.
This is why it is imperative that we as worship leaders have our hearts firmly planted in Christ. Our identities begin and end there. Rooted in Him, we are able to portray to those we are leading a more accurate representation of who God is. “Having a wrong understanding of God’s personality is a huge barrier to the freedom and delight of worship” . Through leading others into the presence of God, we help them find the freedom we have found in our own personal times with the Lord where He is revealing the truth of who He is. “To be really free in worship leading, I have to know that God is fond of me. How can I confidently worship and lead others if I’m not sure how he feels about me?” .
When we lead worship, we call people “away from the counterfeit realities of this world”  and into the reality of the Kingdom. We give people good, Biblical theology through our song choices that will lodge in their hearts and minds for the days ahead when they are tempted to reenter the counterfeit realities. “Through our music, the Holy Spirit writes on the hearts of men, women and children eternal truths of many colors and hues” .
Andy likens creating a worship set to a conversation with God. We bring together a group of songs with lyrical continuity that facilitates the community we are leading into a personal and corporate dialog with the Lord. One must always hold the set loosely, however, leaving room for the Spirit to move on us to change direction, linger a little longer, etc.
"The job of the worship leaders is to vigorously approach God in worship, thereby setting an example and clearing a path for the congregation to do the same" . I love the mental image this quote evokes in me…a picture of one boldly entering the throne room, throwing open the doors and saying “Come on in!”
I need to be in submission to those God has placed in leadership over me. “Serving God is worked out by serving under the leaders he raises up. I trusted God to express his authority in my life through the leadership” . I can rest and know that as He has called me to submit, He will fulfill His plans and purposes for me.
I also need to hone my craft. Taking lessons, practicing, working on skills gives God something “more” to work with. If I am blessed to lead a team, I need to create a rehearsal environment that is enjoyable and allows room for the creative expression of each member while directing the group as a whole. I need to be encouraging and willing to “unselfishly share the platform” , mindful of the importance of raising up and mentoring other worship leaders.
Another aspect of worship leading is song writing. Andy encourages us to allow God to use us in our imperfect state to be the conduits for His music. He tells us to write a lot, to guard against fear of rejection and false pride, to persevere in song writing, to worship with our songs, and to fill our minds with truth.
As a worship leader, To Know You More is a great reminder of how imperative it is to prioritize my personal relationship with God over and above all else and how all other aspect of worship leading flow most effectively from that relationship.
1 Andy Park , To Know You More: Cultivating the Heart of the Worship Leader (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 18.
2 ibid, 15.
3 ibid, 22.
4 ibid, 22.
5 ibid, 23.
6 ibid, 42.
7 ibid, 49.
8 ibid, 71.
9 ibid, 96.
10 ibid, 171-172.
11 ibid, 129.
12 ibid, 205.