Worship Leaders, You Have One Job

David RayMinistry, Music, WorshipLeave a Comment

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You had one job.

In the world of internet memes, this might be the one that makes me laugh out loud the most. Hilarious pictures of job-related fails have spawned websites and multiple Twitter accounts. The common thread in each snapshot is a seemingly simple job that was botched in a way that should have been obvious. Woe to the unfortunate fool who, in the age of cell phone cameras and social media, misspells a road sign or installs a bench facing a wall.

But think for a moment, I mean seriously think, how much time do you spend during your week trying to make disciples?

You had one job.

Worship leaders, sometimes I worry that those words could describe us as well. The job of the church is simple to identify. We all know the Great Commission: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19-20). Our job is to make disciples. (Cue the nodding heads: “Yeah, yeah, I know that already.”) But think for a moment, I mean seriously think, how much time do you spend during your week trying to make disciples?

Is disciple-making at the core of what you do? Or are you simply trying to grow a big choir? Or create a stunning stage design? Or get the tracking done on your next album? Or plan the next big event? Or dream up plans for the next set of nicer facilities? Or come up with the next slick sermon series logo? Or write the next chapter of your book?

Still, at its core, discipleship is personal and relational.

Now before you get all up in arms, I’m not telling you not to do those things. After all, those things are probably in your job description. And in a sense, each of those is related to discipleship. We might call those things “indirect discipleship.” They may play a role in someone’s discipleship journey, but don’t involve your direct, personal relationship to the person. Still, at its core, discipleship is personal and relational. We might call this “direct discipleship” to help distinguish one from the other.

In this sense, I wonder if the sweeping grandiosity of the Great Commission is almost too broad and generic to be helpful to us as individuals. After all, you and I won’t go into all nations, most of us have never baptized anyone, and for many of us, the only people we’re teaching to obey everything Jesus has commanded is our kids.

It might be helpful to remember that Jesus wasn’t preaching a sermon to a conference hall full of strangers. He was addressing a small group of people with whom he had an intimate, personal relationship, drawing upon everything that he had taught them, everything they had experienced together, and giving each of them a set of direct instructions. The disciples weren’t going to participate in the Great Commission indirectly – “Sounds great, Jesus! Listen, I’ve got a sweet lake house up in Capernaum, so I’m probably not going to be doing the ‘all nations’ thing, but I do give occasionally, so I’m playing my part!” – they were going to do the work themselves.

“Come follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

When Peter heard these final words of Jesus, maybe his mind flashed back to the first day he met Jesus, the first words he heard Jesus speak as Peter stood on a rickety old fishing boat with a net coiled in his hands. Maybe it’s this simple interaction that best captures the personal and relational aspects of making disciples. When Jesus was beginning his ministry, he gave Peter and his brother Andrew a simple instruction: “‘Come follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people'” (Matt. 4:19). The personal, intimate nature of this encounter brings clarity and simplicity to our jobs as worship leaders. There are two profound truths contained in this short phrase.

Whatever God wants to do through you, he wants to do in you first.

Here is the first: whatever God wants to do through you, he wants to do in you first. We can see it clearly in the way Jesus phrases his instruction: “Follow me, Peter, so that I can show you how to lead others to follow me.” The call to be a disciple is a prerequisite to the call to make disciples. Before the call to lead is a call to follow. Before disciple-ship comes disciple-hood.

So let’s ask the hard question: how is your “follow” going? I’m uncomfortable even writing it, because I can think of the times in ministry where I led out of such spiritual emptiness. Thank you, Lord, for your grace in my weakness! But I’m finally starting to understand that my walk as a disciple is inseparable from my walk as a disciple-maker.

What about you? Are you spending time in God’s word and in his presence? Do you have places of spiritual nourishment in your life? (Those of you engaged in Sunday morning ministry, you know that most Sundays are not times of spiritual nourishment. Do you have a place you can go to be spiritually fed?) Is there anyone in your life you can be honest and transparent with? (Honestly, it might be best if that person doesn’t go to your church!) Are you harboring habitual sin that you’re afraid to show to anyone?

As you work to make disciples, are you becoming one yourself?

As you work to make disciples, are you becoming one yourself?

We should remember (with an audible sigh of relief) that Jesus didn’t give Peter a checklist: “Hey Peter, here’s the deal. I’d love for you to do some disciple-making for me, but first here’s what you need to do. Work on that temper for me, deal with your insufferable need to be right about everything, develop just a dash of humility as well as a healthy dose of courage, and for Pete’s sake, leave your sword at home!”

Jesus didn’t give Peter a list of entrance requirements for Disciple Making 101. He simply said, “Come, follow me.”

Every ministry job is a people job.

Now, on to truth number two: every ministry job is a people job. There are no exceptions. Worship Pastor? Yup. Communications Director? Mmhmm. Media Coordinator? You bet. Band Leader, Camera Operator and Complaint Card Reader? Yes, yes, and heck yes.

Worship leaders, your job is your people. It’s not to finally achieve organizational nirvana in Planning Center. It’s not to write the next “How Great Is Our God.” (Wait, what? We’re not singing that one anymore? We went back to just singing “How Great Thou Art” instead? Okay, sorry. I’m a few years behind.) It’s not to populate social media with sermon anecdotes and song clips. (“This is covered by CCLI, right?”) It’s not to figure out the exact length of time you can run the hazer to make the lights look cool before the people in the front row start complaining.

You have one job. Your job is your people. Your job is to make disciples.

You have one job. Your job is your people. Your job is to make disciples.

Now I can already hear the objections rising out of your throat: “But this is part of making disciples! There’s nothing wrong with any of these things!” And you’re right. Lord knows I can’t stand a Planning Center account that looks like my toddler got hold of the computer and started adding song arrangements.

But would you be willing to be honest with yourself for just a moment? If you set aside building your own kingdom – that desire inside of you to lead a bigger service, look cooler on screen, receive more applause, and compete with the bigger churches down the street – if you set aside that kingdom for a moment and focused only on building God’s kingdom, what would you do differently?

I worry that we get so caught up in the business of church – or what we perceive to be the business of church – that we miss our one job: the people.

How many of your current activities would survive that kind of purge? If they did survive, how might they change in their focus or motivation?

I worry that we get so caught up in the business of church – or what we perceive to be the business of church – that we miss our one job: the people.

When was the last time you went to lunch with someone for the sole purpose of hearing them out and encouraging them? When was the last time you made time for someone to come into your office and tell you about an issue they need help with? When was the last time you led your musicians in studying scripture or told them what God was doing in your heart? When was the last time you thought about how you could reach that one person that is always complaining about what you do? When was the last time you had a tough conversation with a ministry volunteer whose life wasn’t heading in the right direction?

None of us are nailing it on this count. Some of us may be doing better than others, but I can’t think of a moment in my ministry to date when I was perfectly embodying the disciple-maker I was called to be. But that’s why we need reminders to refocus, to lay it all out on the table and say, “God, how much of this am I doing for your kingdom, and how much am I doing for mine?”

There’s a part of our spirit that just can’t stop working, like Martha bustling about the kitchen while Mary sits at the feet of Jesus.

Some of us are too practical for an exercise like that. There’s a part of our spirit that just can’t stop working, like Martha bustling about the kitchen while Mary sits at the feet of Jesus. To you (and me!) Jesus might say, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).

Worship leaders, let’s get back to our one job. We weren’t called to be musicians, or conductors, or strategists, or set designers, or producers, or beard models, or skinny jean aficionados.

We were called to be disciple-makers.

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About the Author
David Ray

David Ray

David Ray is a worship leader, artist and songwriter from Houston, Texas, where he serves at Salem Lutheran Church. He and his wife, Jess, are the creators of Doorpost Songs, a series of songs and resources designed for kids worship, multi-gen worship, and family worship. Dave and Jess are the parents of three rambunctious kids and they love getting to serve churches and families across the nation.

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