Leading Worship With Confidence
Searching for confidence can so often feel self-defeating-— the more you try the muster up a feeling, the more elusive it becomes. I’ve discovered that confidence is less of a feeling and more of a choice. Building confidence, like building muscle, takes work, consistency, and trust in the process. Here are a few tips to get you on the path to leading worship with confidence.
Tune Your Instruments
Typically, the more you do something, the easier it becomes; leading worship included. If the root of your jitters comes from continually hitting the wrong notes, missing transitions, or struggling with pitch, try devoting more time to practicing your parts outside of rehearsal.
When you know the songs inside out, you can stop worrying about the mechanics when you’re on stage. Devoting time and energy to excellence in your craft is not antithetical to the heart of worship. Music— your music!— is a tool God uses to bring people close, and when you can play or sing with excellence, it decreases distractions for both you and the people you’re leading.
Tune Your Heart
Leading worship is as much about what goes on behind the scenes as what goes on when you’ve got an instrument or microphone in your hands.
In Matthew 12:34, Jesus says, “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Sure, he said this in context of reprimanding Pharisees for spouting venom, but it works both ways. When you’re passionately pursuing Christ, that pours out while you’re on stage.
Some of the best advice I got as a worship leader— and as a person— is to learn how to just be with God and worship on my own, in the privacy of my home.
In Matthew 6:6, Jesus is giving the sermon on the mount and teaching how to pray. He says, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Sub in “worship” for prayer, and see what happens. There are no rules or formulas for what this looks like, so be free. Some days it might look like silent prayer and meditation. Others, you might be screaming and twirling along to your favorite 2000’s worship tracks. Get out in nature, get on the floor, journal, dream, do some yoga. God speaks to all of us differently, and I’ve noticed for myself that how I connect with God changes season to season. Just flow.
The more you practice making this time to be with God, the more sensitive you’ll be to the Spirit. Sometimes it’ll feel intimate, some days you might feel super or uncomfortable, or bored, or maybe feel nothing at all. That’s ok. What you’re doing is training your heart to value presence with God above all else (because God values presence with us above all else) and that will flow out when you’re performing.
Remember your “why”
As you know, being on stage leading worship is way different than being on stage for the weekly open mic or the battle of the bands. You’re there to lead people into the presence of God. Sometimes it can be easy to get caught up in the lights and the crowd. They make you feel like the center of attention, which can either over-feed your ego or make you want to play dead (or both).
When having all eyes on you can get paralyzing or makes you pay more attention to what people think of you than what God thinks of you, take a step back and remind yourself the meaning and purpose of worship, and what called you here in the first place.
Write down your why and meditate on it often, especially before you perform. If you’re having a hard time connecting to your why, it might be time to take a break and reevaluate where God’s asking you to place your time and talents in this season.
When you get your jitters, forget your part, or feel unqualified to go up on that stage, take a deep breath. Turn your attention to God. Remember it’s about bringing people closer to Christ and nothing you can do (for better or for worse) can get in the way of God’s plan to love people.
And in the meantime, practice.
You’ve got this.
About the Author
Emma Tarp is a writer and worship leader based in Minneapolis, MN. On her best days, she's highlighter-deep in a good book or teaching herself to sew. On her other best days, she's helping passionate folks and inspired businesses put words to their work. Find out more at emmatarp.com.