Andi Rozier of Vertical Church Band (“Open Up the Heavens”, “Found In You”) tells a story about taking a trip to Israel.
He rode on a bus with a bunch of other people and had a tour guide who directed the trip. He noticed something interesting on the first day of the trip after one of the first couple stops. He was already spotting a pattern. At every stop, there was a group of people who couldn’t wait to get off the bus and see the sights. They sprung out of their seats and waited by the door. The heat didn’t bother them. The walking didn’t bother them. They were excited for what they were about to see.
There was also another group of people on the bus. They took their time to get off the bus. They got out of their seats almost reluctantly. As he put it, they almost seemed inconvenienced by the fact that they had to get up and walk.
Then there was the tour guide. She was both entertaining to the excited group and encouraging to the group that was lagging. She knew it was her job to bring both groups to the sights together.
And she knew something else too. When she got the group to the sight, everyone would forget about the bus and the walk and the heat and the journey. When they got to the sight, she’d be able to stand aside and say, “Look at that!” and her group would be stunned. Completely amazed by the sights.
Leading worship is being a tour guide. Some are excited to be there. They can’t wait to get off the bus and start worshipping. Others, not so much. It’s not that they don’t love to worship God as much as maybe they don’t always like the journey. And often times they have legitimate reasons. Maybe they’re having a hard week, maybe they don’t really like music, maybe their knees hurt and it’s a feat just to climb down the bus stairs (not to mention the mountain ahead).
But when we get there and we can stand aside, get out of the way, and say, “Look at that! Look at how great God is!”, everybody will be in awe. That is the job of a worship leader.
One final piece of the story. When Andi got back home and looked through all of his pictures, he noticed something. The tour guide wasn’t in any of the pictures. According to all his records of the trip, it was if she was never even there.
What a beautiful picture of who a worship leader should be at his or her core. We take a group of people and bring them to a place where they can get a glimpse of who God is and then we get out of the way. And in the end, we know we’ve succeeded when the attention of the congregation is fully on God, and it’s as if we were never even there.