Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:6-9 NLT
God had a message for Joshua as he was preparing to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land: Be strong and courageous, be prepared, and you will find success. Every week we have the opportunity to retell God’s amazing story of salvation and redemption. Through a creative combination of word, music, artistic expression and community, worship leaders are asked to stand before their congregations and boldly proclaim this life-giving message.
However, what happens when our spirits are not bold? What about those times when sweaty palms and stomach butterflies cause us to feel more terror than courage? Though prayer is always a good instinct, is a “Hail Mary” request for the Spirit to work as we approach the platform the answer?
Look again at God’s counsel to Joshua. He was told to remember what Moses told him. To follow his direction, study the plan, and take time to meditate day and night. This tells me that God didn’t expect Joshua to just wake up one morning and “shoot from the hip.” I think it’s pretty clear that God’s idea of Spirit-filled leadership requires:
A Clear Understanding of Expectations. Whether it’s delivering a sermon, singing a special music, reciting Scripture, or calling for the offering, each individual who takes part in a worship service deserves to be prepared for success. Handing an elder a list of announcements as they walk up to the platform, arranging a special music an hour before the service begins, or giving no advance warning to the person running sermon slides isn’t fair to the volunteer or the congregation. Of course, emergencies happen, but this should never be standard practice. If we believe God deserves excellent worship, those leading in worship need to be given the tools and the time to offer their very best.
Being Prepared. There’s nothing that will clear the butterflies quicker than being well-prepared. Waiting until Sabbath morning to organize words of welcome, rehearse a song, or practice a sermon is not a recipe for boldness and courage. Moses expected that Joshua would know his stuff—studying, praying, and preparing. “Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.” Why do we presume the Holy Spirit is a procrastinator that only works in the moment? Model preparedness, and expect the same from your volunteers.
Knowing What Worship is Really About. Many times, our nerves get in the way of our leadership because we think worship is about us—our abilities, our gifts, or our presence. When we are equipped with the right tools and take time to prepare, we can then allow ourselves to simply be vessels, graciously given the opportunity to point our congregation to the true object of worship: God.
Want your preaching and worship ministry to be filled with boldness and courageous? Provide the tools for success: Set the example, be clear with expectations, remember it’s all about God – not your performance. Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Tami Cinquemani is worship pastor for the Florida Hospital Church in Orlando, Florida