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Monday, May 2, 2011

Twelve Lessons for Worship Leaders from the Life of David

1. Have a heart after God’s own heart. What does that mean? Look at the context from which the phrase comes: “But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.” [1 Samuel 13:14] Samuel tells Saul that his lack of obedience cost him the kingship. Having a “heart after God’s own heart” is tied to obedience. Look at how Luke repeats the idea in Acts: “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’”[Acts 13:22] But it was more that just obedience, it was also a heart dedicated to worship God alone: “As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been.” [1 Kings 11:4] Having a “heart after His” means that you delight in the things that God delights in. Your focus is pleasing Him, not to earn His favor, but because He alone is worthy. If we are to be the worship leaders that God desires, then we need to desire to worship God and be wholly obedient to Him.

2. Don’t let any sin get a stronghold in your life. David was a man after God’s own heart, but was not perfect. He allowed lust to dominate his life in that he continued to marry many wives and reflected more the accepted practice of the cultures around him, than devotion to a single relationship. The writer of 2 Samuel relates to this continued practice of David, once he becomes King of the united tribes: “After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him.” [2 Samuel 5:13] What David did in moderation, Solomon did in excess. Sin is like that.

3. Do what you're supposed to do when you're supposed to do it. Simple? Perhaps, but Scripture affirms that “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army." [2 Samuel 11:1] David stayed in Jerusalem, couldn't sleep, went walking on his roof and saw Bathsheba. The rest is tragic history. Not only did he stay in Jerusalem, but he sent others to do what he, himself was supposed to be doing. Worship leaders need to do what they have been called to do, and be where they are supposed to be and not put themselves in situations that could compromise integrity, or raise questions.

4. When you make mistakes, admit guilt, don’t try to make excuses. When Nathan the prophet confronted King David about his sin [2 Samuel 12], he immediately confessed and sought God's forgiveness (Psalm 51). There was an immediate confession. We will all make mistakes; some will have greater consequences than others, but they will occur. A readiness to admit guilt is not a sign of weakness. Pride resists any admission of failure, and Scripture clearly states that "pride comes before a fall." [Proverbs 16:18]

Misplaced understanding of our self worth is another reason that some resist confession of guilt. When self worth is based on our perceived performance, failure to perform adequately destroys the image we see and measure ourselves and we will do almost anything for the self preservation of who we think we are, or believe that others think we are. The truth is that our worth comes from what Jesus Christ has done for us, not from what we might be able to do. That’s part of the beauty of God’s grace.

5. Listen to the counsel of those around you
. An interesting situation arose toward to end of David’s reign as recorded in 2 Samuel 24:2-4:
So the king said to Joab and the army commanders with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.” But Joab replied to the king, “May the LORD your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?” The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enroll the fighting men of Israel.

Here, David’s pride was and self-aggrandizement forced the hand of those who were trying to give him better counsel. Unfortunately, he did not listen and those under him paid the price for his actions. Verse 10 states: “David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, LORD, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.’” After the killing had begun, David was even more grief stricken: “When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family.’” [v. 17] Our refusal to seek out and get wise counsel can be costly to us personally, as well as to those for whom we are responsible. Stubborn refusal to seek out wise counsel has been the fall of many worship leaders. Fortunately in David’s case, he did repent, which stopped the slaughter.

6. When everything seems to collapse around you, find your consolation in God.
Once, when David was fleeing from Saul, he stayed in the land of the Philistines with his men and their families. If being away from one’s homeland and the opportunity to worship God as one pleased were not enough, consider the following account in 1 Samuel 30:3-6:
When David and his men reached Ziklag, they found it destroyed by fire and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep. David’s two wives had been captured—Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God.
David had lost his wives and children as well, the others were ready to stone him, but Scripture says that he “ found strength in the LORD his God.” God uses difficult times in the ministry to stretch us and mold us to help develop His character in our lives. This is never an easy or painless process, but one in which we can grow if we focus on what God is doing rather than trying to escape the pain. David calls for the Lord’s direction and everything is recovered.

7. Maintain a sense of fairness and avoid favoritism.
In the previous story an interesting opportunity for division among David’s men arises. After they had begun the search for their families and belongings which the Amalekites had raided, 200 of the 600 men stopped at a gorge and watched the baggage while the rest carried on a hot pursuit. After everything had been recovered, some wanted to just give these that had stayed their wives and children and nothing more. However, David intervenes with a statement that became common policy from that moment on: “The share of the man who stayed with the supplies is to be the same as that of him who went down to the battle. All will share alike.” [1 Samuel 30:24] Leadership positions in ministry often afford opportunities that can be ripe for playing favoritism. Avoid it. Run from it. In the long run it will not be blessed and will cause division among the group.

8. Be faithful and consistent.
This is similar to number 3, but more specific: When David is first anointed by Samuel, he is with the sheep. [I Samuel 16:11] When Saul is afflicted with the evil spirit and sends for David to play and sing, he is with the sheep. [I Samuel 19:19] When he fights Goliath, he has been tending the sheep. [I Samuel 17:15, 28] Over and over again though he had been anointed by the prophet of God for a greater task, he never shirks his responsibility. He is faithful and consistent. When a lion or bear would attack the sheep, David didn’t run away, but kept his place killing the attackers. [I Samuel 17:34] The old saying is “when the going gets tough, the tough keep going,” and certainly was true of David. Ministry is tough. People are not perfect and it is easy to let things pile up to the point where you just want to give up and go home. Be faithful. Be consistent. Remember what Paul said in I Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

9. Do all for the glory of God.
The story of David and Goliath is so well known, sometimes we forget some of the maintain points. The truth here is not that little boys can kill big giants; the truth is that God is in control and will not allow His name and honor to be treated lightly. Hear David’s own words:
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” [I Samuel 17:45-47]

10. Live a life of praise
. The “sweet singer of Israel” was known for worship, for his skill in playing his instrument, and for composing almost half of the book of praise, the Psalms. What will your legacy be? For what will you be remembered? We will be then what we do and practice today. A life of obedient worship begins with a day of obedient worship. When we fall, we confess, thank God for His grace and forgiveness and keep going. My father, who is now with the Lord, used to tell me when I was little, “It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, you just have to get up one more time than you fall.” I have never forgotten it. It’s a good word for worship leaders as well.

11. Learn to be honest and transparent with God and others. The Psalms are an incredible collection of faith and honesty. A deeper relationship with God requires that we get to know Him through in all of life's circumstances. Read through the psalms and develop a more intimate relationship with Him.

12. Don’t ignore problems and hope they’ll just go away. When David’s son, Amnon violated his sister, Tamar, David did nothing: “Now when King David heard of all theses matters, he was very angry.” [2 Samuel 13:21]. He was angry, but didn’t do anything about the situation – no rebuke, no comfort for his daughter, – nothing. Perhaps even a more telling indication is found in 1 Kings 1:6, when Adonijah declared himself king in his father’s place: “His father had never rebuked him by asking, ‘Why do you behave as you do?’” It is possible to freeze when overwhelmed with problems, but it is also possible to respond like the ostrich and just put your head in the sand and hope it all goes away. The results of such behavior can be tragic, as the results in David’s family. Absalom kills his brother, and two of his sons try to take over the throne.

To bypass the most obvious issue here would also be tragic. As worship leaders we must lead our homes and be the example for our children. David failed to set boundaries for his own sex life, and had numerous wives and children. It is no wonder that he failed to set limits in their lives. As my wife and I were discussing this, she reminded me that one expression of love is that desire to get to know deeply the one we love. Scripture states that God knows even the number of hairs on our head, – He loves us. Our response of love to Him in part is shown by our desire to know Him intimately. David had so many wives and children, he most likely did not know them very well. He set no boundaries in their lives, and being the sons and daughters of the king, they grew up with a strong sense of entitlement. Just as we cannot ignore the problems of ministry and trust that they will just go away, neither can we neglect the problems that will arise in our own families and expect good outcomes.

God help us to learn from David and the examples given in Scripture so that we can become conformed to the image of His Son!

70 comments:

  1. What a wonderful blog post! This is actually the first time I have seen David compared to worship leaders. However, the lessons from David's life are definitely relative for worship leaders and all ministers for that fact.

    For me, the thing that struck me the most was that David was not perfect, like you said, but God still used him. David made mistakes, but he was willing to confess those mistakes to God. Too many times we are too prideful to do this. In reality, the confession is just a confirmation of what God already knows.

    I also enjoyed that you incorporated the family of the worship leader into your advice. I feel like so many ministers today are only focused on their public lives. Reality is that we need to be just as focused on our private, family lives as we do our public, church lives. Our families are a reflection of us and our leadership abilities. This was obviously clear in the case of David. His family had no boundaries, because he had no boundaries. We must always be striving to reflect Christlikeness whether we are at home or church.

    Thank you for this blog! I found it both convicting and encouraging!!

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  2. Anna:
    Thanks for you kind words. God constantly tries to teach me and to be honest, the hardest lessons are the ones I thought I had already learned. I praise the Lord for His loving patience and that "He who began the good work, will carry it on until completion." [Phil. 1:6]

    Ed

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  3. Dr. Steele,

    The truths brought out from David's life are ones to learn from. From the most amazing things that David did to the most tragic, I need to take note and learn from them all. I praise the Lord for your bringing these to my attention. I also praise God for allowing me the opportunity to study David's life this far removed from when he lived. I truly need to take note. Thanks, Jeremy Starnes.

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  4. Hey Jeremy, good to hear from you. Someone once told me that keeps ringing in my ear: The "narrow road" is in the middle of the "broad road" and we are never more than one step away from really messing up our lives in sin. Made me stop and think then, and still does.

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  5. Dr. Steele,

    Thank you for your post. I did an in-depth study of his life a few years back. I loved the study, and I really enjoyed the facet of David's humanity. David struggled with many things that I struggle with on a daily basis. Your blog offers very sound, practical advice based on his life. I want to "live a life of praise", and I want to "have a heart after God's own heart."

    Kim Goree

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  6. Hi, Kim, good to hear from you! God's Word is a multifaceted jewel that we can never see everything that's there.

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  7. Dr. Steele,

    It's interesting to see how both Saul and David sinned, but it was Saul that was dethroned. After all, both men at different times were arrogant, sinful, and unwise. For David's part though, we see very clearly his relationship to God. We see it all through his life in Samuel and Kings, and we see it even more clearly in the psalms.

    With Saul, we don't see that STRONG, ever-present desire to please God. Having a heart that is after God's heart seems to be the difference.

    EVAN

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  8. I believe the entire posting can be summed up in the very first point, "Have a heart after God's own heart." The moment we stray away from chasing after God and desiring to know and love Him more and more deeply is the moment that we allow the opportunity for sin or distractions or pride or dishonesty or nescience to creep in. To even chance that this could, and with most of us will, happen should scare us. We are ministers called by God to lead and disciple the people of God into personal worship to Him and to usher in the throne room of God so that the people meet God face to face. We must have a heart after God's own heart. Otherwise we run the great risk that our work is vanity, and ultimately an epic failure, because now we have compromised the beauty and sanctity of pure worship to God.

    Thank you for the post. May we all have a heart after God's own heart...always. Jenn P.

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  10. Evan, you are right. There never seems to be a strong desire on Saul's part to seek after God. Only once does Scripture record that he even inquired about the ark. His relationship with God was tied to a person [Samuel], not God, himself. This is a danger for all in the ministry. Mentors are good, but never a substitute for personal time with God.

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  11. Jenn,. I agree. Having a "heart after God's own heart," implies that we know what that heart is. The only way to know God's heart, is to get to know Him intimately. As Paul said in Philippians 3:10, "that I may know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death."

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  12. Well, Jenn went and stole my thunder. As I was reading your blog post (which was very helpful, by the way), I couldn't help thinking, that if you take care of #1 that the rest would fall in line. In other words, if we have a heart after God's own heart, we will be ok on the other 11 as they will necessarily follow from the first.

    Thanks for your thought provoking post.

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  13. Michael, all I can say is that great minds run in the same direction. Thanks for the comments and post.

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  14. Dr Steele, I had to read this post as part of a class assignment for NOBTS and have been greatly blessed and challenged by its contents. I am very thankful that those who are elevated in the Scriptures as "heroes" are invariably deeply flawed; this especially gives me hope as I am all to aware of the flaws in my own heart and life. This is the first time that I have been challenged to think of lessons from David's life as a worship leader. I regularly help lead worship at my church and I appreciate your thoughts. Some of the most salient to me are the principles of 1) seeking and heeding the wise council of those around you; 2) admitting guilt and confessing mistakes; 3) being honest and transparent before God and others; and 4) doing all for the glory of God. I believe one very negative downsides from all of the music reality shows we are constantly bombarded with these days is a (perhaps even only subconscious) tendency to see platform worship as performance for the sake of pride instead of humble response to what God has done for us. Thank you for the reminder that indeed everything we do as worship leaders is not for ourselves or even the church but is ultimately for an audience of One -- the Triune God Himself.

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  15. Paul:

    Thank you for your kind words. Scripture continually challenges me to keep my focus on Him. You might be interested in the blog "Worship and Entertainment" as a followup. There is a link on the right hand side not far from the top. God Bless.
    Ed

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  16. Dr. Steele, I found all 12 areas relevant and helpful for all Christians and particularly vocational ministers. While every one had nuggets that were helpful, number 4 (When you make mistakes admit guilt and don't try to hide it) was particularly helpful to me. You point out very insightfully that often a misplaced understanding of our self worth is the cause for refusal to confess sin. Your point that our self-worth is the result of what Christ has done for us and not what we might be able to do, is a truth that if internalized, will set us free in many areas of ministry. This would eliminate many rivalries, divisions, and problems in the Body of Christ. Thank you for this wonderful article. William Allen NOBTS Student.

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  17. William:
    Thank you for the comments. You underscored what is a major issue for many. Dr. Blake Newsome highlighted some points during faculty devotions this past week that are related: we tend to think too highly of ourselves and we tend to want people to think highly of us as well. The truth is my real approval comes from the Father and my true worth from what He has done.

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  18. Dr. Steele, Wow each one of your 12 lessons were right on point! As a worship leader I identified with each one. I think your first lesson is the foundation for the rest. It all begins with obedience doesn't it?! We have to be willing to lay down our lives to gain what only God can do in and through us. I just got back from the Right Now Conference in Dallas, and the theme of confession of sin kept coming up. One speaker said if you are not talking about the sin in your life, then there are problems. I love how you said that we need admit guilt and don't try to make excuses. This is the most difficult issue I think most Christians leaders face. We place expectations of perfection or at least a look of perfection. When in reality we are humans like everyone, and in need of mercy and forgiveness. Thanks for the encouragement. I'm going to bookmark this post, and refer back to it!

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  19. Thanks, for the comments. It has been helpful for me to remember what I heard years ago: The Broad road and the Narrow road are not two separate roads, but the Narrow road is really in the middle of the Broad road, but going in the opposite direction, and we are never more than one step away from really messing up by stepping out of the Narrow road. We are always vulnerable to doing those things which can trip us up and God has given us many reminders to help us out.

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  20. Dr. Steele, this is a wonderful post. I love the insight and I appreciate your thoughts. I am particularly drawn, however, to #6. It wasn't too long ago that I needed to just get out of the office and out of my routine and go to a nearby park. Things were not going well and I needed a retreat. You are absolutely right when you say that these times are not an "easy or painless process, but one in which we can grow if we focus on what God is doing rather than trying to escape the pain." It was such a spiritually beneficial time in my life. God continues to teach me how to rest in Him. I heard someone say recently that we seem to be looking for answers all of the time and we forget that the answer is always right in front of us, Jesus. When we focus on Him, we cannot go wrong. A particular passage that God has encouraged me with is Isaiah 33:2 and I hope that someone else might be encouraged as well.

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  21. Brian:
    Thanks for the post. Glad to hear that you can get away and refocus. Even Jesus got away from what He was doing to spend time with the Father.
    God bless!
    Ed

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  22. Dr. Steele,
    Thank you for your excellent observations from the life of David and for your advice and challenges to ministers. All of your points were wise council from David's life, but the one that struck me most of all was when you cautioned ministers to do what we are supposed to do when we are supposed to do it. Sadly, ministers of the gospel fall victim to temptation and their lives and ministries are destroyed more and more often. So often in the accounts of their fall, it seems that if they had been doing the work they were supposed to be doing just as David was supposed to be at war in the spring, they would not have put themselves in the position to be tempted.

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    1. Thanks, Robert. Some answers seems so simple, but it is the "little foxes that spoil the vines...."

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  24. Dr. Steele,
    What stands out most strikingly in your assessment of David is the final point, that he did nothing. I'm shocked with the realization that the same young boy who criticized the Israelite army for standing around doing nothing when Goliath taunted them was the same man who stood by as his family and kingdom were torn apart. Likewise, worship leaders and pastors whom we should assume would take action in certain situations often do not. I have experienced this recently where pastors failed to take action in an timely manner and it cost relationships and caused damage to their integrity as leaders. This axiom, however, is often easier said than done. That seems why it occurs so often that leaders do not take action, because avoiding it is in fact easier, but it is certainly the most costly option. Thank you for the insight in this article.

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  25. Thanks, Josh. Remember Edmund Burke's comment: "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    We could easily paraphrase that to say that "all that is necessary for a ministry to fail is to just do nothing...."

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  26. I love this example of David being a warning to worship leaders. The truths are no doubt applicable and will help keep leaders from falling to sin if they are heeded.
    A few of the points I would like to point out that caught my attention were the following:
    1. There is a need for all believers to seek wise counsel and listen. David got counsel that he did not ask for, but did not receive it when it came. Had he done so, he would have saved many lives.
    2. David found his strength in the Lord, and that was sufficient even when everything else was a mess. Ministry will be trying for all who are involved for any period of time, and ministers must remember where their strength lies.
    3. Finally, learning from David’s mistake of not confronting the issue of sin with his son and daughter brought further problems in the future. Problems should never be “swept under the rug,” which only complicates situations. The biblical model of addressing problems biblically (Matt 18:15-17) is very difficult most times (inside the church and outside) but will bring blessing to all involved in the circumstances!

    I love the article!

    Brian Wimberly

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    1. Brian: Good observations. We can never plumb the depths of the riches of God's Word.

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  27. So many excellent lessons from the life of David! I think it couldn't have been more proper to list "a man after God's own heart" at the top of the list. A man who delighted in the things that God delighted in! One instance in the life of David where this can be seen is when he purchased the field from Araunah. In 2 Sam 24:24, King David replied to Araunah when he wanted to give him the field "Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing." From the life of David then we also learn that "There's a Personal Cost Involved in Worship"!

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    1. Nelson:
      Right on. You might check out my blog post on this:
      Worship HeartCries: What Does Worship Cost?
      Sep 25, 2011
      Thanks for posting.

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  28. The final lesson about not ignoring problems is one that is often overlooked, especially in ministry. I think we are fearful of offending others or opening ourselves up for criticism by bringing problems out into the open. We must be courageous enough to tackle the problems while also having the integrity to do so without fear of our own shortcomings being exposed. Interestingly, the only way to follow lesson 12 is to first follow lessons 1-11. Without personal integrity, we lack the standing to tackle problems with others.

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    1. Great insight, Brian. Thanks for sharing.

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  29. Dr. Steele, God bless you for this wonderful article. I completely agree with each of the arguments you present in here. There is no doubt that David's life was one of a real worshiper. His whole life was a continuous worship to the Lord. He knew how to humble before God and he sought his presence with an honest heart (This is actually related to lesson number 10). I believe that every worship leader indeed need to imitate David in his relationship with God. If we have this kind of relationship, we will naturally desire to give ourselves as an act of worship, and this latter is what God truly desires from us.

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    1. Anaely: Agreed. Thanks for the comments.

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  30. Dr. Steele,

    After having been in the ministry for over 30 years, I have had an opportunity to be tested in all of the above areas. This article is spot-on. It is refreshing and very good instruction for those of us who have been in the ministry for a while and especially for those studying to enter the ministry.

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  31. Tommy:
    Thanks for the encouraging words, backed by years of experience. I have the privilege to teach in a Seminary where I have the opportunity being a part of many of these young men and women preparing for ministry.

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  32. I like number 3 - "Do what you're supposed to do when you're supposed to do it." I like the point that you made in that David should have been fighting instead of staying home, and this is when he fell into sin. I think that this is great advice for all ministers. If we cease doing our duty, we can get lazy and give minimal effort - which can lead to disaster.
    I also like number 12 - "Don't ignore problems and just hope they'll go away." This advice speaks for itself - although it is sometimes very difficult to carry out. It can be difficult to confront a problem when we know it can produce an awkward/uncomfortable situation.

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  33. Thanks, Jonathan, for the post. Scripture never covers over the mistakes of leaders, but "shares the truth in love." God Bless you in you life and ministry!

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  34. Dr. Steele, I like number 6 that when all else collapses around us we are to find consolation in God. I agree with this statement so much. As a pastor of over 20 years I have seen many of the joys and sorrows of ministry. Some of my sorrows were self inflicted and some were outside of my control. Nevertheless, I have learned to trust in God because the arm of flesh (including mine) will fail us. I often remind others who bring me "bad news and disappointments" in ministry that "My hope is built on Nothing less that Jesus blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus Name!" Bless you in your ministry!

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  35. Thanks, Anthony, for sharing out of your experience. I am reminded of Paul's statement in 2 Corinthians 12:8 : “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

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  36. This was a great post and very insightful! I could relate to number 5, because the mentors that are in my life I know that I wouldn't be in ministry today. Both their encouragement and constructive criticism have helped me through obstacles and have sharpened me in areas that I am weak. I can also relate to number 4. In my first years of ministry I felt I always had to have an excuse, or an answer to justify my actions. But most of that was because of pride and poor time management skills. I have learned to own my mistakes and learn and grow from the experiences.
    I appreciate you taking time to post your wise observations and I pray God continues to bless you in your ministry!
    ~ Adam Pate

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  37. Thanks, Adam, for your comments. I was blessed by some wise counsel from godly men and women as I began in the ministry. Though most of them are in the presence of the Lord now, their words still serve as beacons in my life.

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  38. Excellent article and challenge/ encouragement for all who read this blog post. Not only is this applicable to worship leaders, it would certainly benefit any believer who might read it.


    "Live a life of praise." This draws me back to thinking about how any believer can segment their life. It is easy to designate Sunday morning as being our time of worship. But God doesn't want this and never intended this at all. Praise should never only happen during a worship service. Praise and worship should be our lifestyle. If we were to continually set our mind on the Lord in thanksgiving and praise, it would certainly affect our conversation and mindset. We would soon shift from moments of praise during our week, to a life filled with praise.




    Thank you for your ministry. It is obvious that you not only care about music & worship, but that you also care for those entrusted to you. - Chris Young

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  39. Thanks, Chris, it is easy to compartmentalize our life into "religious" activities and "secular" activities, but this is not really a biblical concept. We lay all we do at the feet of Christ; if there is something that we cannot put there, we probably shouldn't be doing it.

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  40. Thank you for the interesting article. I am not sure if this would apply to #5, #11 or would be a separate item, but David had a friendship with Jonathan. Through that friendship, Jonathan encouraged David in his faith in God (1 Samuel 23:16).
    Michael Babb

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  41. Michael: You are correct! Jonathan's relationship with David was one of mutual encouragement and everyone, especially those in ministry needs at least one "Jonathan" in their lives.

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  42. Dr. Steele, I was struck by the monumental challenge of achieving these characteristics of a worship leader in today's church environment. It seems the role of worship leader requires such multifaceted and steadfast excellence that only one intended by God to do the job can pull it off in a manner that glorifies God most and draws His people to Him in worship best. I cannot imagine success in the role for anyone not sold out for the mission and Spirit-filled.

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  43. Scott:
    Thanks for writing. I agree. It is really a misnomer to say that we "lead worship" since only God can touch and lead. "Lead Worshiper" perhaps is a better term, but not used very much. Regardless, leadership in worship can only really happen through leadership by the Holy Spirit.

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  44. Dear Dr. Steel,

    Thank you so much for your article and it's lessons from David's life. One of the things that resonated with my heart was lesson #3 to do what we are supposed to do when we are supposed to do it. I don't know if King David was just on his roof that night when he saw Bathsheba because he was being lazy, feeling burned out, etc. We aren't given all the circumstances behind why David stayed. But having looked back at the story one more time, I see that by not being at the right place at the right time David was abusing his power. This was so good for me to hear. Worship leaders and pastors, while busy, usually have the ability to make their own hours during the week. This is why it's so important for us to focus all throughout the week on worshiping God with our lifestyle before getting up on the platform. What David did might have been just a fluke night, but it had ugly repercussions in the long run.

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  45. James, thanks for your comments. Too often we put ourselves in places where temptations are, much like the young fool in the book of Proverbs, "going near her house in the evening..." David had rooftops, we have the internet, and we live in a time when we can deceive ourselves that we can hide our sins behind a computer screen. God knows, God sees. But Praise God, God also forgives, empowers and restores. We can call on Him to move and help us and "deliver us from temptation." which at times is rescuing ourselves from ourselves. God Bless you and your ministry.

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  46. These 12 steps are great! I find that at different points in my life, I have found each one to be significant in my personal growth. I have also realized that I am not doing all 12 all of the time. I need to write these down and find a way to apply them to my life on a daily basis.

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  47. Thanks, Joshua, for the note. We all need to keep on working on issues.
    God Bless,

    Ed

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  48. I find that many of us struggle with admitting our guilt. I am genuinely working on this because God has convicted me of it. I used to seek ways to always look like I had the answer and did no wrong. I misunderstood the verse on living above reproach. I though that I could never look like I had made a mistake. The truth is that my feeling was motivated by pride. When I began owning up to my faults and moving on from mistakes after apologizing, I began to see people have a greater respect for me.

    Another aspect that goes along with this is the concept of giving credit where credit is due, but also protecting those who are growing in the Lord who are serving with us when necessary. Many times as the man up front, we get credit for the good things. We must always seek to build up others when we can and realize that God will reward us. Those who are younger in the faith need to be built up. If we need the praise of men, we should take inventory of our walk with Christ. We must also make sure that those who serve with us only receive correction in a loving, edifying way. This means protecting them from public attacks and addressing issues privately.

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    1. Thanks for being so transparent, Jared. Any achievements we might have are only by God's grace and mercy. God Bless and thanks for sharing.
      Ed

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  49. Of the twelve lessons, I find my struggle most often comes lesson twelve. Unless the problem is something high up on the offensive scale, I find myself praying for resolution rather than confronting the issue head-on. I realize that this is not fair to either myself, as the one who has been offended, or to the offender. By not confronting the problem directly, while it is still it its infancy stage, there is a strong possibility that the problem will grow out of control. Thanks for your great blog Dr. Steele.

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  50. Very few of us enjoy confronting possible conflict; but the avoidance route only leads to greater issues that we will be forced to deal with and in more difficult circumstances. Peter Scazzero deals with this [and many other issues] in "Unhealthy Commandment 4: Don't Rock the Boat as Long as the Work Gets Done," [title of his book: The Emotionally Healthy Leader]. We must learn to speak the truth in love, which in some circumstances becomes even more complex if the person we have to deal with has offended us or may even be above us in responsibility.

    Thanks for sharing!
    Ed

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  51. As I read the blog above, I was struck that these are not just lessons for the life of a Christian or of a church leader, but a leader in life. Having been a follower of men in the lower ranks, we would complain when we were kept in the dark over a task and purpose. Often times we would find ourselves working way past where we needed to be and the leaders would be off doing nothing. Thanks for sharing and reminding me and others of what leadership means.

    Blessings,

    Harvey

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    1. Thanks, Harvey, for your comments. Scripture is our guideline for all of life! God Bless!
      Ed

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  52. Dr. Steele,

    I love your comments regarding a "misplaced understanding of self-worth". I work with students and in this age of instagram followers and snap-chat stories, it is so hard to help them understand that their value is not found in what or how others see them. What I have found in nearly 15 years of student ministry is what students struggle with adults struggle with also. You are so right that we will justify our actions or bury guilt or sin in order to prevent others from thinking less of us. The reality is "no temptation has seized you except which is common to man". God may use our failure and honesty to help disciple someone else. Our mistake may lead to someone else succeeding. Openness and transparency are hard because they bring vulnerability but they are worth it in the end.
    As you have noted, our identity is not found in other's opinions. It is found in Christ. He loves us and gave Himself up for us. No one else has or will ever be able to do for us what He did. People's opinions change but Christ's faithfulness is eternal. When we fail we can admit it, because God's love will not change.

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  53. Thanks for you comments, Wesley. You share some key insights which are critical when working in student ministry. I would encourage you to read Peter Scazzero's The Emotionally Healthy Leader; he has some great material about openness and transparency. May God continue to bless you and the ministry God in which God is using you.

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  54. Dr. Steele,

    As usual this is a wonderful blog post! As a matter of fact I would say these 12 principles could apply to ANY believer. The one I think that has meant a lot to me as someone in the congregation is #11 - Being Transparent. I think it adds a lot to the worship experience when the leader admits to picking certain songs based upon recent experiences in his or her life. While there is likely the other end of the spectrum where this could be problematic if done too regularly, I think it is a nice reminder every once in a while that nobody is perfect and that the song selection on Sundays is not some random assortment of music. There have been several times my worship experience has been enhanced because a worship leader decided to share about something going on in their life during the worship set.

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  55. Sean: Thanks for the comments. While Sunday morning is not a time for sharing all the garbage of our lives, being transparent is important on several levels. Not only does it keep the worship leader honest with his/her own self image, but helps keep the congregation honest from putting those leading worship on pedestals. May God continue to bless you and your ministry!

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  56. Thanks for your post Dr. Steele.

    All of these points are extremely helpful and applicable for anyone interested in being a worship leader. Further, I believe that these points can be applicable to any believer who desires to live a life that honors the Lord.
    My favorite points:
    1) Live a Life of Praise-I love this statement, "a life of worship begins with a day of worship." It can be overwhelming to think that we have to be concerned with our whole future, but when I remember that all I need to do is "worry about today" I am more likely to just enjoy God.
    2) Dont Ignore Problems- my personality is pretty non-confrontational. I can be prone to just trying to "move on" when an issue arises and I have learned that this almost always makes the issue worse.
    3) Be Transparent/Vulnerable- Vulnerability gains trust, every time. If we want to lead the church well, we need to have a healthy amount of transparency. Obviously, this needs to be accompanied by "wise counsel" and prayer. We shouldn't throw our pearls before the swine all the time, but there are times where it is good to help people see that we are not perfect and need grace.
    4) Admit Mistakes- My dad is stalwart in admission of his faults and I have personally seen how it almost completely disarms people when they are angry or offended. "I am wrong" are very powerful words...especially with your wife or husband.
    5) Do What You're Supposed to Do, When You're Supposed to Do It- I have found that I am most vulnerable to temptation when I am not responsible with my time. Getting work done during working hours means that I can be present at home during the evening. Getting school work done before bed helps me to be totally available on the weekends (as I type this on Saturday...fail). Going to bed on time helps me not have any undue temptation to sin against God. Overall, this is just a great principle to live by.

    Thanks for the post, I will be having all of our pastoral interns at Temple Baptist Church (Hattiesburg, MS) read this for discussion on Monday morning!

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    1. Thank you so much for your comments and how well you see the practical application. How encouraging to have a Father who models what God desires!
      God Bless, and I pray God richly bless as you share with the pastoral interns at Temple!

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  57. This is a wonderful post. As my classmate, Sean, pointed out, I too think that this could apply to any and all believers. I am particularly convicted by numbers 7 and 8. Favoritism is such a beast within music ministry, because someone with a beautiful voice can be contagious. It's easy to play favorites with the best musicians in the church or the best teachers in the church, but to be honest if the congregation did this with me, I would be out in a hurry. There are plenty of people in my church that are better singers than I am or better guitarists. I am thankful that it is not about favorite or who is the best, performance wise. Yet, if I am not careful I can find myself ensnared in the same favorites game. Also, being faithful and consistent can be a challenge. When the going gets tough, it's easy for the weak to get going as far away as they possible. Sometimes my immediate inclination in tough times is to flee, but it takes discipline and remembering the points you've made even within this article to stay true, be faithful, and strive for consistent effort. Thank you again for the blessing and teaching of this post.

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  58. Atley: Thank you for being so honest and transparent. I was at a music conference just a few weeks ago with a host of professionals, and honestly I wanted to hide under the seat at times. When I compare what I am able to do with "them," well there is no comparison. I will not mention names, but they are well known and godly men and women. They could do circles around anything I could do musically. What helps me is to remember that my worth does not come from what I can do, but from what Christ has done in me. What I may be able to offer to God as a sacrifice of praise may be very small when compared to others, but as give Him the best that I have to offer, God receives it as He would those much greater. God looks on the heart. I am still working on improving, growing, and learning. I would encourage you to do the same. May God continue to bless you as you serve Him!
    Ed

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  59. Dr. Steele,
    David is one of my favorite people in the Bible. As your blog points out, there is so much to learn from his life. I enjoyed reading your blog. The biggest take away was to be faithful and consistent and do all for the glory of God. I know in my personal walk in ministry being faithful and consistent was hard when it seemed as though everything was done in vain. However, after realizing who I was doing it unto made a difference. I know that God will not let His Name be treated lightly. So, it didn't matter anymore what I felt because I knew that God would get the glory anyhow. Every point you made is a life lesson. This is a great post.

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    1. Eboni:
      Thanks for the post! Scripture is honest and transparent of how it shares the lives of those we even call "heroes" like David. Yet, he was called "one after God's own heart." I pray that his life would continue to encourage and inspire you as you grow in relationship with God.

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  60. Hey Dr. Steele! Thank you for sharing these lessons with us. There is so much wisdom in these statements! I agree with what others have said – these life lessons apply to everyone that follows Jesus, not just those with the opportunity to be lead worshippers. And once we are able to truly, completely follow the first lesson, the others will naturally occur. Once we desire to worship God with all that we are, and strive to be wholly obedient to Him, we will flee from sin, we’ll do what we’re supposed to do, we’ll admit our mistakes, and we’ll seek wise counsel. We will be faithful and consistent with the responsibilities He gives us, and we’ll do everything for His glory. As we seek to live a life of praise, we will naturally become more open and honest before God and others, and we’ll turn to Him FIRST when problems arise. While these characteristics all sound ideal and are things we want to pursue, they often hit the wall of our own pride and selfishness. I think the point that spoke most to me was the misplaced understanding of self-worth. We (especially women) are surrounded by cultural voices that tell us to live the American dream, to climb the corporate ladder, to prove that we are good enough or strong enough to compete with the best, and that excellence is the end goal. All of that is driven by pride, though, and that motivation is contrary to God’s Word. We can and should still strive to do our very best for His glory and in His strength in whatever tasks He gives us, understanding that our worth comes only from Him, and not our own efforts. I don’t have to perform a certain way, or maintain a specific image. I am loved and cherished by the King of kings, not because of what I have done or what I can do, but because of who He is. What a precious thought! Thanks for the reminder!

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    1. Lynnda:
      Thanks for the post! Good to hear from you! I wish I could say that after over 45 years of ministry I never struggle with the issue of self worth and that its only a sad memory in my past. But that is not the case. I teach performance skills and must grade the students on how well they progress in the application of techniques being taught. With some students, I have found it a challenge to help them remember that their worth is not based on the grade or performance, but on what Christ has done. As I grow older and closer to retirement [in a few years], I am noticing that I cannot do all the things I used to do, especially related to vocal control, etc. In reminding my students, I am really reminding myself as well. On the positive side, sharing with the students is a good reminder that I need to be totally dependent on Him and grateful for all He has done and continues to do. Thanks for sharing! God Bless!

      Ed

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