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Confessions of a frustrated preacher (when it comes to worship leaders)

Picture of Greg Stier
Greg Stier

WorshipLooking at my watch once again I’m wondering how many stanzas the worship leader is going to sing this time. Scrolling through my mind are thoughts like, “I have 30 minutes to preach this sermon and this music is slicing into my time” and “Hey bro, quit circling the airport and land the praise plane.”

I confess.

I confess that I’ve often been frustrated with worship leaders as I’ve gotten ready to preach the Word behind stage.

I confess that many times I’ve looked at worship music as an over-estimated time of seemingly endless stanzas.

I confess that I’ve often had to confess my bad attitude to God about the worship leader’s attention to the time as I was walking to the pulpit.

Okay there. I said it.

Now, let me say this…shame on me.

Sure there are some worship songs that have weak (or in some cases even bad) theology. Yes, there are a few worship leaders who are more about showing off their vocal chops than bringing praise to the King. And, of course, there are a handful who feel free to play fast and loose with the time clock with no regard for the rest of the service. But, at times, I’ve used these exceptions to the rule as a subconscious excuse to (and this is really bad) dread the worship time.

No more.

Why? Because, as a preacher, I can’t get away from the reality that all of creation was made to praise him.

I can’t run from the fact that the largest book in the Bible is actually a hymnal (Psalms!)

I can’t deny the reality that when Jesus taught his disciples to pray he started first with praise, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be thy Name.”

I can’t hide from passages like Ephesians 5:19,20, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

I can’t shake the book of Revelation which is full of the grapes of wrath being squeezed on earth even as the chords of praise are being strummed in heaven.

Worship music is everywhere in Scripture. I can’t navigate or exegete around it. Instead, I am choosing to embrace and enjoy it.

Over the last few years I’ve been noticing how powerful praise can be. It strips back the veil and helps teens and adults alike sense the presence of the God who is already there. It fixes our focus on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. It readies our hearts for trials and temptations by making Jesus the epicenter of our universe and not just an orbiting Pluto. It works with preaching like nitrogen works with glycerin to explode God’s truth into human hearts.

I praise God for worship music because it’s teaching me to stop and savor the Savior. It’s showing me how to kneel and worship in adoration. It’s preparing me for what I’ll be doing for all of eternity. In that sense, worship music is giving me a little taste of heaven right here on earth.

I confess my unbiblical view of the power of praise and my frustration with worship leaders.

…but I bet I’m not the only preacher who needs to make this confession.

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