Bob Kauflin, in his book entitled “Worship Matters. Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God,” reminds us that the leading of worship “starts with the way I live my life, not with what I do in public. It’s inconceivable for us to see ourselves as worship leaders if we’re not giving attention to what we do every day.”
In his first letter to Timothy, Paul shows us how to live like a worship leader as he encourages Timothy with these words, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). This is God’s counsel for all of us today, and if we desire to be true worshippers, then the example of our lives will show it. Again quoting Kauflin, “Everything in our lives should be governed by one goal—to see Jesus Christ praised, exalted, magnified, lifted up, and obeyed.” Let us take a moment to consider how our worship flows through our example.
Not often do we consider that we lead people whenever we speak. We are often very careful about choosing our words and how we say them while at church, but sometimes our filters are removed when it comes to gossip, social media, and both the written and spoken word when uttered apart from the gathered context of the church. “Every word,” says Kauflin “has the potential to either confirm our example of genuine worship or take away from it.” We must take responsibility for our words and understand that they have the power to lead and influence others to embrace God or turn Him away. May our speech always serve to worship God.
The way we live our lives will define our worship more than songs, styles, and methods. God wants our conduct to be an example to others. Kauflin gently reminds us all that “If the way we live does not back up what we proclaim on Sunday morning, we’re not only deceiving the church—we’re misrepresenting the God we claim to be worshiping.” No one is perfect, but our lives will bear fruit and that fruit will resemble what and who we worship. It is impossible to please God in worship when our lives don’t match up with the truth we are proclaiming. We must be accountable to one another regarding sin in our lives so that there are no barriers to experiencing free and abundant worship. May our conduct match our worship of God.
Is love the attitude we exhibit in worship? Do we truly love Christ or are we merely infatuated with Him? 1 Corinthians 13 gives us several examples of how love works within the Church. When it comes to worship, are we patient, kind, humble, and so on? Scripture tells us that the world will know that we follow Christ by our love. Our interaction with God in worship is founded on the truth that He first loved us, and gave himself for us, so that we might love “in word and deed” (1 John 3:18). May our worship be rooted in God’s love for us and manifested in our love for one another.
Kauflin states that our “consistent pursuit of faith and our constant practice of faith, God wants us to set an example for the Church.” Faith is not a byproduct of worship. It is the foundation of our response to God. Have you ever gone to an all-you-can-eat-buffet when you weren’t hungry? You probably took a little of this and a little of that, but found yourself ultimately unsatisfied. When we approach worship, being filled with ourselves instead of God, we can leave feeling bloated and uncomfortable. We might think that God does not speak to us in worship, or that there is little to take away from worshiping together each week, but that is why we must hunger for God’s presence and His Word. When our faith is being satisfied in Him continually, we worship with a spiritual hunger that only God can fulfill. May our worship be filled with our consistent hunger for God.
We worship a holy God. Throughout history, worshippers had to cleanse themselves in order to enter into His presence. By the grace of God in Christ Jesus, we no longer have to offer sacrifices or perform ritualistic washings as we approach God. We do, however, need to be pure or free from contamination. Kauflin reminds us, “God wants our worship to be sincere, no hypocritical; willing, not forced; wholehearted, not distracted.” Our motives in worship must be pure and clearly recognize whom it is that we worship. All too often we worship together with very different gods on our mind. May our worship always be purely focused on the One True Holy God.
In conclusion, these areas are not just matters of worship but they also matter in worship. We must love God with all our hearts. We must believe that God is who He says He is and have a desire to grow in our relationship with Him. We must practice the disciplines that draw us closer to Him and commit ourselves to keeping them. We must also model our faith on Sunday, and every day, to a world that needs to see us truly worship.
Worship matters to God. His desire is for us to become committed worshippers in spirit and truth. He is seeking true, authentic, life-changing worship in the hearts, minds, hands, and lives of His people. May we be the worshippers that He is seeking. Amen.
Mowry is the Worship Arts Minister at the church