Pride…that’s some sneaky stuff isn’t it? I love how Brad talks about this topic, and Sunday morning before leading worship at Lighthouse Church in Canton, we had a little devotion with our team over this scripture:
Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised.
As many of my writings, this is true for any Christian, but I love to talk to worship leaders and pastors in this arena because I feel it is one of the biggest places where the enemy tries to wreck our ministry.
It can find it’s way even into the sweetest of moments, and places where we think we would never be effected by it. If you are a worship leader, pastor/speaker, performer of any kind, artist, and on and on…you know how good it feels when someone talks highly of your work or what you are doing. Here’s an example:
You’ve just finished leading worship at a church you’ve never been to before. After the service, you are swarmed with people saying things like,
“Thank you so much, your worship is awesome! You sound like an angel! You are so anointed and I was so blessed by your leading us! I hope you can come back, I’ve never experienced worship like that before!”
You get what I’m saying…even when it’s JESUS that they are seeing and you are not trying to draw attention to yourself, more than likely, you will still be praised. And there’s nothing wrong with that! We are called and equipped to encourage one another, and the Bible tells us to do so! But remember, that the one being tested, is the one receiving the praise.
What will you do with that?
If we know that we are created to glorify our Father, in whose image we were created, then when someone praises us, we immediately realize that they are praising Jesus. So praise God! And if you need to verbally remind yourself of this, then as soon as someone praises you, say “Praise God! For You receive the glory Lord, and I’m just bearing your image as you created me to!”
It would be so easy to absorb all those great things that are being said about you, and focus on your ability and how talented you are. And that’s not to say that you aren’t! But it’s God who has gifted you with this talent…so it belongs ultimately to Him. And the reality is, He could take it from you in an instant if He saw fit. When it becomes all about you, and you can take that stage, and lead your awesome worship set without Jesus, we have a problem.
That’s what pride does. It puts the attention back on ourselves. If we accept the praise in the flesh, then we keep building up, and puffing up, and building up, and puffing up, until what? We also know from His word that
Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall. Prov. 16:18
There are many ways we can fall in ministry when it becomes more about us and less about the Jesus we are worshipping. So what about those days when you give your best leading worship, and then no one praises you after the service? No one tells you how awesome you were? What happens to your pride then? “Wow I must have blew it today…no one has said a thing. Did they even like us? Did they like worship? Did I mess up? Was I not as good as the last worship leader they had? I wonder who they’ve had that is better than me? I thought I was one of the best…I need to work harder…”
We all know this happens right? And the follow up from this is we focus on that moment that we perceived as failure, and it continues to be all about US trying and striving to be a better worship leader/singer/musician by our own strength. And we will fall. And for some, enough of those moments of perceived failure cause a person to quit, and retreat, and to hide. I believe this is one of the ways God separates the pure at heart from the prideful in flesh.
We are called to worship in Spirit and in truth. Anything less only comes back to humble us later, and sometimes it hurts when God has to humble us.
Humility as a leader of any kind is only for our good. God knows we can’t handle it. And that’s why He came, not as a prideful and arrogant leader, but as a humble servant, expecting nothing in return, and accepting death on a cross for our sake. There is nothing about us that deserves praise. We are just blessed to be a vessel that makes a way for more people to praise HIM!
I encourage worship leaders to read this verse (Prov. 27:21) with your team, and get them thinking about what goes on with our pride. If you are being tested by praises from people, are you passing the test? Where do you stand? Let’s get our teams focused, and watch as God does more than we could ever do with our own voices and instruments!