Louie Giglio, who is the founder of the Passion Worship Conferences, recently sat down for an interview with Worship Musician magazine. Among other subjects he covered, he touched on the issue of keeping the artists who are part of the Passion conferences focused on worship. His perspective offers both encouragement and challenge to anyone who leads worship:
Inverting the words “worship leader” to “lead worshipper” helped me enormously. A worship leader is primarily concerned with leading something, meaning, my main focus is leading you. So I’m up here playing the whole time, trying to figure out how you’re doing. Oh, Bruce isn’t with me, I’ve got to crank the tempo up; I’ve got to get some more volume. Let’s do “Undignified.” Come on, I’ve got to get Bruce going! You know how it works: There could be a thousand people in the room, but if Bruce isn’t with me, I’m missing the 999 and I’m totally on Bruce. That’s all I can think about.
But if I invert the words and become a lead worshipper, my primary focus isn’t leading you; that’s my secondary focus. My primary focus is worshipping. I’m a lead worshipper. I want to be the first guy in the room worshipping God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength. Now I’m not disinterested in Bruce, because I’m here as a psalmist, and part of my responsibility is to lead him into the presence of God. (That’s mostly the Holy Spirit’s job, but He’s going to use me as a vessel.) So I’m going to come back and check on Bruce periodically, in between my worshipping, to see how he’s doing. But I’m a lead worshipper, so I’m going to leave today saying, Somebody flat-out worshipped today, and I know it was me.
The other extreme is the guy who closes his eyes and lifts his hands and never checks on anybody the whole time he leads. They could have all gone home, while he was over there worshipping. That’s not good. But the preoccupation with how are you feeling? How are you feeling me? How are you doing with the songs? How can I make this work for you? That, to me, gets burdensome.
It’s easy for someone who is leading worship to get so caught up in the leading that they forget to worship. I’ve done it many times myself. The challenge is for the leaders to be leading by the example of worship. If the leader is worshipping then others are more likely to worship, too.