I am somewhere in between wanting to be taken care of and wanting to be independent
I am somewhere in between hurting and healing
I am somewhere in between wanting to be grown up and wanting to still be a child
I am somewhere in between wanting you to love and be proud of me and wanting to show you I don’t need you
I am somewhere in between wanting to rebel against you and needing your approval
I am somewhere in between wanting you to know me and wanting to forget you
I am somewhere in between wanting what everyone else has and accepting that I have to deal with what I don’t have
I am somewhere in between being broken and wanting to be whole
…I am somewhere in between extreme self-loathing and vanity
I have been a worship leader at Geneseo since my Sophomore year. I’ve struggled with my responsibilities as a worship leader since. It’s a complicated mess of trying to juggle worshipping myself while leading others, trying to not be so concerned with the performance aspect of the set, leading a practice that is more than just going through the motions, and trying to reject the need for public approval of my efforts.
I recently read an article from another worship leader that reflects an experience he had where the worship leader’s pre-planned worship performance really felt like the leader was trying to manipulate the congregation to react in a specific way. Honestly, that really convicted me because I know that I struggle there and am guilty there. It’s such a temptation when you know the ingredients to a “really solid and emotional” kind of worship set. You know how to work the dynamic levels in accordance to the really emotional lines in the song. You choose popular songs like Hillsong’s “Hosanna” which are crowd pleasers and are certain to ensure a great reaction from the worshipees. Worship leading can really turn into an a + b = c kind of formula. And I will confess, I am guilty of trying to manipulate people’s reaction because of my lack of belief and faith that the Holy Spirit will come and move in people’s hearts.
In addition to that, I’ve also been reflecting over the whole worship “experience”. I hear a lot of people say “Well I don’t experience worship that way”. Previously, that never really bothered me. But as I think about it more… what the heck is that saying? It’s pretty arrogant when you think about it that we would withhold worship that not only does God deserve but that we owe to Him because the particular style of worship taking place doesn’t fit with our tastes or preferences. How selfish! Who are we to say to God that we will only give praise and adoration when we like it, when it’s convenient for us, or when it is our cup of tea.
Worship is not an experience you have. Worship is always about giving God all praise, glory, and honor because He is in fact the awesome God we claim to follow. Worship with our lives, our gifts, whether it be dancing or singing or tithes, God is worthy of praise and adoration no matter what. When you have a clear understanding of God, His character and His awesomeness, worship is the inevitable response. When did we get to the point where we would praise God only when it suits our preferences?
Though I prefer contemporary musical worship, my college church is very traditional and is pretty much on the opposite end of the music spectrum. Despite conflicting preferences, God is STILL worthy of my praise and adoration and I STILL owe it to Him. The style of music or whatever is irrelevant but what is relevant is the state of my heart. Whether I sing or dance like David in front of the Lord, God is only concerned with our heart’s response to Him. It’s not so much about style or preference, it is about how the heart is able, in all circumstances, to respond to Him with the praise He is worthy of.
I have a long way to go in my development as a worship leader. As it says in Psalm 84, “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” I pray that I would be humbled enough to stand at the door of the house of our God, inviting people into a time of worship. Even if their preference isn’t musical worship, as a worship leader, my charge is to open up a space where they are free to worship God in whatever way. I am not a song leader, I should be leading people into worship, whatever form that may take.
Pat Lundberg is an 80-something year old widow who lives about 10 minutes away from Geneseo. She is incredibly outspoken and sometimes quite stubborn but that little old lady has a lot to say about life and a lot to teach me about the way of grace.
I met Pat through a friend named Joel spring semester of my junior year at SUNY Geneseo. Joel, an alumnus of SUNY Geneseo, used to visit her during his years at school and passed on that blessing to me. Since then, I’ve visited Pat on many occasions and have taken other students to visit and for work days to help her around the yard.
Since the very first time I met Pat, I knew it was going to be a life-changing relationship. Despite the obvious generational and cultural disparities, Pat has wisdom that cuts right to my heart. When you sit down with her, she just talks away and it’s a gift from God that she could speak so much truth and healing into my life. Like during our first meeting, she didn’t know anything about me. Yet she had things to say about life and relationships with parents that were as if she had known me for years. She said to me that day regarding parents, “Don’t let it change ya’, honey. You’ve got to forgive them. Let it all go. Don’t let it change ya’.” How could this white, country, Irish widow speak words I really needed to hear after just meeting me?
Her company is a blessing I don’t deserve. Her love for me, how she prays for me, her concern for me, is a little glimpse at the undeserved love God has for me. I don’t get to visit her as much as I’d like. I don’t call her as much as I should. I’m terrible at keeping up with people especially with calling. She leaves me voicemails all the time and each time I expect her to be upset that she hasn’t heard from me yet it always starts out with her saying how she’s been thinking of me, how she’s praying for me, and how she longs to hear from me soon.
That’s not even the outrageous part. When I do call back, of course I expect her to be slightly resentful or upset that I haven’t called. But without fail, it’s always gone something like this:
Me: Hi Pat, this is Vicky from the College.
Pat: Vicky? Praise the Lord!! I’m so glad to hear from ya’!! Ya’ know honey I’ve been praying for you.
What kind of crazy grace is that? That though I fail to call or visit and am underserving of her love, when I do call, her response is to praise God?
My relationship with Pat is contrary to what you’d think about a college student visiting an elderly disabled widow. I need her more than she needs me. She’s a gift to me. God put her in my life to give me a physical and tangible example of amazing grace. She plays an important role in healing the brokenness from childhood.
She’s a gift to me.