Secure enough to serve
Identity and humility in worship and creative ministry
“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God...”
Imagine for a moment that this was said to you. You have all things under your power! You’ve come from God and you’re going back to God - anything is possible! Would you - buy a house made of chocolate? Decree that every church must worship in the way you like? Order a different guitar for every day of the year? Start telling people what you really think of them? What would you do if you knew everything was under your power?
Well, this is Jesus’ response:
“...so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” (John 13:3-5)
At this moment of revelation that everything is under his power, Jesus chooses to get down on his hands a knees to act as the lowliest servant for his disciples.
I’ve noticed something about myself. The times when I feeling most insecure about my worship leading, my creativity, my ministry etc, are the very same times when I act the most arrogant and obnoxious! It is precisely when I doubt my gifts, my position of leadership or my reputation that I’m most likely to try and show off, draw attention to my ‘achievements’, or avoid serving in a Christ-like way.
Which makes me wonder whether a lot of the problems we experience in our worship teams and creative ministries come down to the fact that deep down most of us are really insecure. Whether its the lead guitarist who just won’t turn down; the artist who refuses to create in a way that will compliment the service theme; the lady who constantly complains about the song choices; the worship leader who won’t lead children’s songs (insert your own nightmare issue here) - how much more unity, servanthood and fun(!) would we have if we stopped trying to prove ourselves?
There are also those times when we let our insecurities turn into reasons to hide away. We’ve all experienced the worship leader who looks embarrassed to be up the front, mumbling into their shoes and leaving the congregation uncomfortable and unsure as to what is going on. Or the person who is always putting themselves down, telling you how bad they are at playing/singing/leading/creating. Or the artist who refuses any limelight or leadership position at all, hiding their gifts under a bowl, burying their ‘talents' in the sand.
Somehow, Jesus manages to avoid both of these traps. You never see Jesus do anything arrogant or self-seeking; he constantly lifts other people up, serves with humility and reflects the glory to his Father (John 14:13). And yet he is able to step out confidently in his gifts, leading his disciples, teaching with authority (Matt 7:29). I think he could do this because he was completely secure in his identity. He knew he was loved by his Father.
In “Searching for God knows what”, Donald Miller quotes Nobel-Prize winning author Toni Morrison, who was asked what her secret was to being able to write great books - was it the other books she’d read, or her method and structure of writing, or something else? Apparently she laughed and said;
“Oh no, that’s not why I’m a great writer. I’m a great writer because when I was a little girl and walked into a room where my father was sitting, his eyes would light up. That is why I’m a great writer. That is why I’m a great writer. That is why. There isn’t any other reason.”
Morrison felt secure and loved by her Dad, she knew she was special and accepted and complete, so that meant she could have the confidence to write without trying to prove herself, making the most of all the gifts she had been given.
How can we have that kind of security, not from our earthly fathers, but from our heavenly Father? Well, I think it happens when we come back to the cross. It is there we see how much God loves us - greater love was never shown than when the Son of God laid down his life for his friends (John 15:13). There we see every mistake we’ve ever made dealt with, as Jesus died with the sins of the world on his shoulders. When we really see the cross, we realise that nothing we can ever do can earn God’s love, and yet at the same time that there is nothing we can do to separate us from his love once we are “in Christ” (Rom 8:38-39). We are accepted by God, loved completely and utterly, secure children in his arms (1 John 3:1), because of what Christ achieved for us on the cross.
Do you know that when you enter a room, your heavenly Father’s eyes light up? Do you know that he believes in you? That he has uniquely gifted you in music and art and worship leading? He longs to see you use your gifts for him. Yet his love for you isn’t dependent on how you use those gifts. When you know who you are in God, you are in a secure position to be able to minister without the need to show off or try to prove yourself. You can serve without worrying about status. You can lead worship that dies to self and lives for others. When we see what Jesus has done for us, we want to follow his example in sacrifice and putting others first. And we will find what Jesus says to be true - that as we give our lives away, we find our true selves in him (Luke 9:24).
We’ve attached a Bible study to this page (login and see the box above right to download the pdf), so that with your worship team or youth band you can work through some of these issues and how they might impact your worship and creative ministry. Let us know if you use it, we’d love to get your feedback below!