The Bitter Worship Leader’s Dilemma

by Bobby Gilles

in Worship Leading

Girl looking out a window on the view of a brick wall“It’s plain from the Bible that we worship by the Holy Spirit (see Philippians 3:3); but it’s also clear that the Holy Spirit can be grieved. Ephesians 4:30 urges us: ‘Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God.’ Then it tells us some of the ways not to grieve Him: ‘Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger’ (v. 31). The implications of this are huge … We talk a lot about Spirit-led worship, but if we truly want to be led by the Holy Spirit, we need to make sure we’re keeping in step with Him in our everyday lives.”

— Matt Redman, The Unquenchable Worshiper: Coming Back to the Heart of Worship, p. 24

It’s easy for worship leaders to grieve the Holy Spirit of God, first by becoming bitter and then by letting that bitterness grow into rage and anger. Worship leaders can turn bitter because:

  • The senior pastor blames you when the church doesn’t grow, or doesn’t attract/retain youth and 20-somethings.
  • The congregation seems like it would kill them to sing out, raise their hands or display any sort of passion.
  • The elderly say the music is too loud and strange.
  • The young say the music is too old fashioned.
  • The hipsters say the music is too mainstream.
  • Somehow your equipment keeps disappearing during the week.
  • Your drummer keeps speeding songs up.

I’m sure you could add plenty more reasons. But …

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger …

Your bitterness won’t change anything, except that you’ll be grieving the One who can turn those situations around or give you the grace to endure them for as long as they last. Let the first sign of a bitter feeling spur you to pray. And not just a “Lord, deal with this unfairness” prayer, although God wants you to take your frustrations to Him. But praise Him, too.

Praise Him for all the things that go right. Praise Him for His sovereignty over the things that go wrong. Praise Him for His faithfulness and wisdom. Praise Him because His ways are higher than your ways. Praise Him because His benevolent control of your situation extends further than you can even imagine.

Photo by David Masters, used via Creative Commons license

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