“Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”(John 4:23)
Kerplunk, kerplunk, twang, twang, kerplunk…the so-called music just kept going from bad to worse and back again. The wannabe worship leader kept trying his best but he just didn’t have the finger coordination or practice to make it come out right. Even those who weren’t musically inclined could tell that he was missing chords and singing off key; it was obvious that he just didn't have much musical ability.
Some people gamely sang along the best they could, but others were noticeably not following their leader nor entering into worship – some had their arms crossed, others were playing with their phones, and many were simply sitting there with blank expressions on their faces as their minds wandered away on some adventure known only to themselves.
Pastor Tom, meanwhile, was devastated. A pioneer pastor just out of Bible college, he sat in the front row with his hands in his face, thinking about how hard he had worked the last three years and how little he had to show for it. He had such big dreams and had set such high goals – by now the home groups were supposed to have multiplied and the Sunday morning services were supposed to be over 200. Instead, he had a group of 50 in the school auditorium that seated 250 – the chairs were empty; the leadership team was ready to quit; his dreams were shattered. And what made it all worse was that he was broken. The vision, the fire, and the passion were gone.
Kerplunk, kerplunk, the so-called music went on. Pastor Tom took his face out of his hands and looked up at the worship leader. Their eyes met, and Tom saw not only a look of desperation in the worship leader’s eyes, there was also a tear starting to form in the corner of one eye. Tom looked around and saw what the worship leader saw – very few entering into worship, many people with crossed arms or a distant look in their eyes. It was obvious from their body language that most of the people were wishing that they were somewhere else. And then it happened.
God spoke. Not in an audible voice that everyone could hear, but in Tom’s own heart he heard the whisper of God. The same voice that called him to salvation, the same voice that called him into the ministry, the same voice that gave him peace about marrying his wife, that same voice told him to not worry and that everything was going to be okay. As joy and peace began to flood his heart, Tom looked at the worship leader with compassion and realized that in his own zealous pursuit of church growth he had hurt lots of people – many had already left the church, including the former worship leader – and that even now he was hurting the only worship leader he had left.
With a contrite heart, Tom got up in front of the fledgling group and began to confess his sins of being overly zealous and hurting people who were only trying to serve as best they could. He admitted that he had been arrogant, self-centered, and driven rather than being humble, Christ-centered, and Spirit-led. His goals and aspirations had come from his own desires rather than God’s desires. Nearly everyone in the room had tears in their eyes as Tom asked for their forgiveness.
"No one gives Tom the accolades that he would have had if he had met his goals and become a megachurch pastor. However, Tom is quite content as he knows that he did what God wanted him to do and that his city has been changed because of it."
The presence of God was palpable; everyone could feel that it was a special moment and that there was a special connection with the Almighty at that place and time. One man in particular, who had been a part of many churches and ministries over the years, stood up and said, “I believe I have a word from the Lord for us today. He says that He is well-pleased. Well-pleased by our pastor whose passion can now be bridled and used for God’s glory. But that’s not all God is pleased with. He is especially pleased by our worship leader, Hank, who courageously stepped in to fill a need. He’s not as skilled or practiced as some of our former worship leaders, but Hank has a heart for God and He is well-pleased.”
From that point on the church began to grow but it wasn’t through the extraordinary efforts of Tom or Hank or anyone else. In fact, Tom was spending less time on church stuff and more time with God and his family. He began to relax and let God be the Lord of the Church, trusting Him to bring in the right people, raise up the right leaders, and grow the church according to His timetable. And as a result God did grow that church.
Now, many years later, Tom and Hank look back with fond memories of that Sunday when God visited them. From that day forward God taught them about true worship, worship that is in Spirit and in truth and has nothing to do with skilled musicians and harmonious voices. Instead, it is about an act of the will, a prostrating of oneself before the Almighty, a submitting of one’s own will to the will of the One who created him, a conscious effort to praise God not only with one’s lips but also with one’s entire life.
Today Tom pastors that same congregation and both have grown old together. Tom is a grandpa and so is the congregation – that little fledgling congregation grew and gave birth to several other congregations that in turn birthed even more congregations. No one gives Tom the accolades that he would have had if he had met his goals and become a megachurch pastor. However, Tom is quite content as he knows that he did what God wanted him to do and that his city has been changed because of it.
As for Hank the worship leader, he never did get that great on the guitar. But he still has a heart for God and loves to sing and play for the Lord in his own private times. He worships in the Spirit and in truth and God is well-pleased.
Let’s Pray Together: Lord, I want to be one of those who worships You in Spirit and in truth. Teach me how to do that. Give me an ear to hear what You are saying and lead me into worshiping You with my lips, my hands, my life, everything that I have. Let me not be two-faced or false in any way but be wholly devoted and true to You. Help me to be a God-pleaser, not a people-pleaser. Help me to live for You regardless of life circumstances or what is going on in the church…(Continue praying as you feel led…)
Scriptures to Study: Galatians 1:10 Does this sound as if I am trying to win human approval? No indeed! What I want is God’s approval! Am I trying to be popular with people? If I were still trying to do so, I would not be a servant of Christ. 1 Thessalonians 2:4 For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. Colossians 3:23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Proverbs 29:25 Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting the Lord means safety. Psalm 118:8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. Ephesians 6:7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people. Acts 5:28-29 He said, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in his name, didn’t we? Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to bring this man’s blood on us!” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men! Acts 4:19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! John 12:42-43 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God. Mark 8:33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
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