On Worship

I don’t even know how, where to begin.

Just a short one on worship again, so I don’t forget.

I served on keys again this Sunday. I usually only serve once a month, but I was covering somebody else this week. So.

I’m usually kinda flustered/frantic when my week comes around, depending on the set etc. I literally become a headless chicken. The last time I served, there were too many things going on. I just died at prac. But after feeling like crap on that Saturday, I just knew it’ll be ok on Sunday. I don’t know how. It didn’t stop me from feeling like a poop the rest of the day, but on Sunday, I was feeling like a million bucks, shiny and hopeful, because I just kind of knew God would see me through it. And He did. And I played loads better on Sunday, or at least, well enough to give me the headspace I needed to worship worship, not just play.

That week, on Saturday, I just felt really humbled. It had been something like six months since I played, and all the time in UK, at the church, I always thought that I played better than whoever it was that was serving. I kind of knew that nah, my playing wasn’t that worth talking about but, I dunno. I still gravitate to thinking I’m all there, maybe cos ego. But yeah. So after that prac, I was brought to my knees before God, and I felt Him prompt me to trust Him, not on my efforts or on my flesh (of which I had not much to offer anyway), but to trust Him, even if I crash and burn on Sunday like I did at prac.

If I win, I praise you. If I lose, I praise you.

I’ve always wanted to pray this prayer, but when it comes down to it, it was really hard to do. It came from the Christian film, Facing the Giants, I think, and this prayer always stuck with me. I wanted to have this mentality, this posture of worship, despite music and keys and stuff like that. I wanted to be strong enough to wholeheartedly believe that even if I screwed up on Sunday, I would still be able to praise Him for who He is. Cos it’s not about me. It never was. But I would still have liked to play a part for His work.

It was really hard to pray that. It still is. Thankfully, He met me where I was and just poured Himself out so abundantly on me. It wasn’t like I suddenly played amazingly excellently, but I just played enough, enough to know that it wasn’t just me or my efforts, enough to usher His people into His presence, which was the point of what I was doing anyway. To serve.

Maybe He thought I wasn’t ready to actually be tested in the if I lose I’ll praise you part. He is so gracious.

This week’s experience was different, kind of like, in a good way. The set was much more chill, my parts were mostly pads, strings, atmospheric stuff. I wasn’t too stressed up about it technic-wise, compared to the past time I served, where I had to learn specific riffs to play as closely to the recording as possible. So not that much stress.

We practiced on Saturday, and I thought it was a pretty good prac. I felt like I didn’t have to try so hard this week, that since I had the space, I could experiment and put a little thought in the different sounds I wanted to use, trying to fit the different ranges and riffs in the song, and overall just being more mindful of what I was doing, all the time keeping that space for pure worship. It was a good head space, and it was the most peaceful I’ve felt about worship for a while. It was one of those weeks. Still, I felt like I could have worshipped more. A bit caught up in technicalities. Sunday service worked out well. I kind of zoned out a bit, like I couldn’t go further, and I think it was because I didn’t like my sound and I couldn’t change it/get my head around it. Never had this problem on Saturday. But oh wells.

Because it was such a chill set, or less stressful anyhow than the last time, I wasn’t really like committing everything into His hands, like how I did. I thought I could handle it, and I think I did reasonably well. But once again, I was reminded that despite myself and everything I had to offer, I was to trust Him. Even when I think I got it all, I have to trust Him.

Both extremes are hard to do. Honestly. When you don’t have it all down, it’s hard to trust Him, and then when you think you do, it’s hard to rely Him above yourself.

It’s interesting, the way He teaches me every week.

Today, one of the worship ministry workers came to join our band debrief. He’s really such a wow. Like. The things he says. How he can practically apply God and His wisdom to the worship ministry. So wow. Always so blessed and encouraged by his insights and how he allows the Holy Spirit to move in him.

When I was first starting out in worship ministry, even more unsure and insecure about my playing, especially in a band of older youths and very talented musicians, he was the one who put all my insecurities to rest. I was struggling with what it meant to serve in this ministry, things like how far/much of what I have is God’s gift, how much of it I can take responsibility for, whether it was even ‘a gift’ because I’m really not very good at it, or whether I’m just doing it because the ministry needs people and I just happen to know the instrument. How do I stay humble with it, how do I work with it. Was it really from God if I sucked at it. How far is it a gift or a talent. I always felt iffy with the words gift and talent, especially if the said gift/talent isn’t very outstanding. Like, I’m just not very good keyboarding, ok? Ok.

Then this guy gave me a word at one of the band debriefs. I couldn’t even remember what he said exactly but I remembered this word: anointing. He said something along the lines of how everyone there who had served, those who will continue to serve, how we all had such an anointing. I admittedly didn’t fully understand what ‘being anointed’ meant, and I don’t actually completely understand it even now. But ‘anointing’ just seems fit in where I was, and it was just right to describe this balance of serving in ministry, how much was me and how much was God ordained.

Anointing, as in chosen, consecrated, sanctified and empowered by the Holy Spirit to do His will.

It stops becoming about what I have or what I can do. It becomes more about what He can do despite me, what He has called me to do, and how I respond, what the posture of my heart is for Him to work in me. It’s not always the easiest to keep in mind when I serve, much less 24/7 when I live out my anointing as His child, not just solely in ministry.

This week, at the debrief, the same ministry worker also reminded us of something else. He was warning us about pursuing excellence, in this case, musical excellence, over God, worship and serving. He was talking about working with other musicians in other worship ministries and how when they had pracs and meetings and all that, the focus of their conversation was on God, on worship, not on the music. Music-wise, they were set, they knew what to do. Everyone did their homework, they knew their parts, they were tight. When they had pracs, it was just to worship, to allow the Spirit to flow through them etc. It stopped becoming technical and even if they did have to sort out things technically, the music wasn’t the point, it wasn’t the focus of why they were there. It was worship. The thing is, they had to do the work too, they had to practice in their own time and all that to achieve that kind of musicality so that they could worship while they played and still sound clean. Their hands and feet would all be ready on autopilot, they knew all their parts and what to do so that it doesn’t sound hard to do even though there were so many things going on. It wasn’t as though God would always spontaneously make them sound awesome, they did have to practice to get there. But they weren’t a competing thing, music and worship. You work hard at music to and for worship. And worship should always be the focus.

I never thought about it that way. I mean, I did struggle with worshipping meaningfully when I had to play because I had too many things to do. But I never realised that I had to practice to be good enough at what I was doing on the keyboard so that I could be on autopilot and then worship. Like, it seems pretty duh now when I write it out. But it never occurred to me that… I dunno, wow, that I could actually do both, play well and worship, at the same time.

I just thought it was something you had, playing well, being musical, in this context, at least. I don’t know where worship went. It was hard to worship and do so many things at the same time.

Lel what have I been doing with my life. Srsly.

Anyways, he prayed for us, that we will never pursue music over worship, and that music won’t be an idol for us. Which is good. So that I don’t put my value as a worshipper in music, or as a measure of how much I’m worshipping etc. Stuff.

I’m also trying to take responsibility to improve. Like I know a bunch of people who serve now and play really well, and they said that they hadn’t always played like that. It was a process, and it takes time and practice. Much encouraged by people who try. I want to try too.

Many ups and downs in this ministry. It’s been an interesting walk and I think it will always be.

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