May 18, 2016 by Tammy Shay
Being an Honest Worship Leader in a Brutally “Honest” Society
Music is more than talent; it’s the expression of your heart. Change that and all that’s left is the beating of a drum, the banging of keys, the strums of metal, and noises from a mouth. Years and years of the brutal beatdown’s of how a worshiper should or shouldn’t sound, or how their lyrics should and shouldn’t be constructed have caused so many to conform to the so-called standard of what will sell or what will please.
I am writing this to the discontent, discouraged, and apathetic worshipers. You, who once had big dreams and big hopes of creating music that would alter the very course of history. You, who dreamed of melodies that would change people’s lives and ignite fires that would never burn out! You longed to release prophetic choruses that would cause a generation to rise and know their identity. You were made for this. You were made for greatness. You were made with a passion and purpose to see the world altered by worship that comes from the throne. There is good news, IT’S NOT TOO LATE!
EXPERIENCE vs EXPOSURE
“Amazing Grace” is a hymn we all know. I don’t think that as John Newton wrote one of the greatest hymns in history, he knew he was doing so. He wrote this song from a personal place. He was involved in the Atlantic slave trade and a violent storm battered his ship so that he called out to God for His amazing grace. This moment marked his conversion. The power behind the song “Amazing Grace”, is the power of the altering of a man’s life. He was a man of desperate need, and his heart was poured out in this song. I know that when I sing this song and think of the lyrics, my heart is overwhelmed by its truth. First, because it was truth to its writer…then because it is truth to me. We are all in need of AMAZING GRACE!
Emotions raid my heart as I write about this next song. “It Is Well with My Soul” written by Horatio Spafford. This hymn was written after several traumatic situations that occurred. First, his only son was killed at the age of four. Soon after, he was destroyed financially by the Great Chicago Fire. He had been a successful lawyer. Only two years later, he planned a trip to Europe and sent his family ahead of him as he finished some business. The ship that they were on sank after a collision with another vessel. All four of his daughters died. As Spafford traveled to be with his heartbroken wife, he wrote this powerful song as he passed near where his daughters had died. I am sure that he had no idea that his song to Jesus in the time of his greatest need would become one of the most well-known hymns today. A man’s heart cry has become a song we adore and cherish, but the process for him was one of pain and sorrow. He embraced his circumstance and what came forth is something that we still sing to this day. His heart has been displayed for all to see.
I believe that the most impacting songs are those that have come from personal experience. The kind of songs that change and give hope to the writer before they ever meet the ear of a listener. I don’t know about you, but for me, I can usually tell when someone is singing from experience or exposure. When someone is singing from experience, there is an overflow that speaks to the heart of those who are listening in ways that can’t be manipulated. When someone is singing from exposure, they are singing as a copy. They are reenacting what they have seen or have heard someone else do.
THERE IS POWER IN A VULNERABLE HEART
Newton and Spafford wrote these songs from a place of experience. They presented their dialogue with the Lord in these songs, and millions are now singing those songs, many of which can feel a soberness as they sing the words that seem to be more than just words. It’s almost like there is a hidden message behind these songs that screams, “I’ve been there. I know the pain. I know how hard it can be. But…I know an Amazing Grace. I know that God is good. I know that all is well. There is more.”.
I fell in love with a Kevin Prosch song that has changed me. I made a decision never to sing it unless I meant it. I never sing this song without engaging my heart to its melody, lyrics, and rhythm. Every time I sing it, I feel myself come alive. I feel my heart recognize its truth, and I am lost within its reality. I didn’t write this song, but it became the anthem of my heart in that season of my life. We all have had songs like that. Songs that speak the words we can’t find; songs that bring clarity to emotions and feelings. I don’t know Kevin Prosch, but I feel like I do when I listen or sing this song. It’s almost like a map of his heart. There is a power in writing in honesty.
I don’t know about you, but music is a profound expression of the deep waters that fill my heart. Sometimes, they are raging with emotions of pain, hurt, frustration, longing, and other times they are rivers of joy, liberation, freedom, love. I’ll take them any way they come, just as long as it’s always honest and always sincere.
COMPARISON WILL KILL YOU // RELEASE THE NEW SONG
I have had the opportunity to hear and see many amazing worship leaders live. Being completely honest there is a thought that pops into my head almost every time that challenges who I am as an individual, really who I am before God. Thoughts like…”Well, maybe if I did things how they do it…blah…blah…BLAH!” LIES! I know that if I have been bombarded with lies, so have you. The enemy is cunning and crafty. He whispers in our ears how much better we would be if we did it differently and conformed to be like someone else a little more.
I’ve said it before and ill say it again, we were never meant to sing the “same song”. We were made to release the “NEW song”. (Ps. 33:3, 98:1, Rev 5:9)
Never change the authenticity and honesty of your heart in worship to please the critics in this music community and people. There is a pressure that will come and force you to make a decision. Will you alter or mask who you are to please a crowd? If you go after pleasing crowds, then you will never please God. Be one who worships from experience, not exposure. The decision happens in the secret place of your heart. Motives, intentions, passions were determined long before David ever became king.
Latest posts by Tammy Shay (see all)
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- Responding to Hate with Love After the Pulse Orlando Shooting - June 12, 2016
- Being an Honest Worship Leader in a Brutally “Honest” Society - May 18, 2016