I have mentioned a few times that I have been spending the summer in the psalms in preparation for a Bible Study that will be starting up in the fall. I am nearing the end of this project, and chronologically, I am also nearing the end of the book of Psalms. A few days ago, I came upon Psalm 115, verse 1, and it was in this text that I found what could arguably be the theme of my existence as a worship leader:
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 115:1)
As I was contemplating this verse, the lyrics from a song by Chris Tomlin came to mind. The song is called “Not to us,” and it speaks of leaving the world behind and putting the cross before us— recognizing that it’s not about us but Him.
Now, I’ve never led in this song when I’ve been at the piano on Sunday mornings, but I felt as if I couldn’t let the truths of this lyric slip through my fingers. The song reminds me of something my dad often said when I was growing up. He would hear people talking about finding the perfect church home and how they just wanted to feel like they were getting something out of their time in worship. Later, after taking time to reflect on the conversation, he would say something like: “Attending worship isn’t about what we can take out of it but what we can bring to God.”
I couldn’t agree more as I find my place as a worship leader in the local church. For so many years, I was a performer— someone who would stand on stage and showcase my songs and voice. I sang with groups, bands, and solo, and often I would receive compliments afterward on how beautifully everything had been presented. Although the positive feedback was a great source of encouragement, I knew I couldn’t let the words go to my head. My father’s viewpoint kept coming back to remind me that my gift of music was a way in which I could give back to God, and it was my responsibility to not trivialize it.
I find now that there is nothing more rewarding than leading praise and worship, for it is in that time at the piano that I can set aside all expectations and nervousness and simply sing to Him. When I share music with OneVoice, we meet together about ten minutes before the service to pray over the upcoming time of worship. We don’t leave the room until we lift up two requests: (1) that the people who come to worship that morning might be able to truly worship along with us and (2) that it would never be about us up there on the platform. We are His instruments, and its all for Him. “Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory.” Amen.