One of my dearest friends in the world is a worship leader out west and she read my entry below, sending me this response to my post about worship leading. I just love her perspective, always learn from it, and had to post this. She has years of experience and walks in the fear of the Lord.
i just read your blog about leading worship. i know you love honest conversation, so here's my story.
i lead blind. after so many years of gauging the way i lead a worship set by the reaction or participation of the congregation, i have learned that appearances can be so deceiving.
about 4 years ago, the Lord put me on the bench for the better part of a year. He proceeded to break me into tiny, tiny pieces. He put me back together, and worship was never the same. i have heard a lot of the things you had to say from a lot of different corners, and i believed it for myself for a lot of years, but here's my experience: if i listen to Holy Spirit, He will take us where He wants us to go.
everyone has a choice in worship, to engage or not. my job as a lead worshiper is to follow Holy Spirit and be followable in the way i sing and play. but ultimately, they will choose whether they will open their hearts up. what people see from me is a vulnerable demonstration of honest, passionate worship. yes, style and skill and sensitivity to where people are and with what they are burdened is important. but really, i am simply naked as i worship. a leader being willing to be broken and honest frees the people to also be broken and honest. it puts to death the spirit of performance and the need to be seen as having it all together that hinders true worship.
also, i have felt the anointing leave me and have pulled back so many times. finally, a prophetic friend came to me and said, "you keep pulling back just when things are about to break out!" i have learned that when i sense Him 'leaving' me, His presence is really just moving out into the congregation. i have learned how to wait in that place and not get nervous or in a rush. that's when the real work happens, is when He begins to do the stirring. all i am doing is facilitating the atmosphere of Heaven. a lot of times prophetic songs or proclamation or warfare in worship will happen. sometimes He sings over us. sometimes it is silence (people have to work up to that one!).
when i came back after that long break, He asked me to face Him, not the people. at first, it was difficult, because how do you know what's going on out there? but, as i have practiced 'leading blind', i have developed, in the same fashion, an increased hearing of His voice and sensitivity to His heart. i look out there every now and then, but except for communicating with my team, my eyes are usually closed. if i concentrate on what i see people doing, i get distracted. it makes it harder to hear.
i have learned that He means for me to be myself as i do what i am meant to do. i am fully aware that each of us carries a different anointing, and we are meant to. leading worship looks different for each leader and each fellowship. someone once said to me, 'God never intended you to minister like anyone other than yourself.' i thought, 'thank you.' this was a grace to me, and it brought healing to my heart after so many years of trying to perform or please people. i never fit the hole they wanted me to fit.
be blessed in your journey into the heart of God. i am asking for more of His presence, more anointing for you as you lead others to encounter Him in worship. i pray that you live under grace as you worship.
** emphasis mine
This is fantastic. I LOVE when you lead worship. I miss it, dear friend.