Recently, someone wrote us the following comment about my article, “Worship Leader Is Still a Good Title.” He said, “Whether worship leader is the most accurate description or not depends on our definition of the word ‘worship.’ If worship is ‘to feel in the heart’ as A.W. Tozer has said, then we may never know if we are ‘leading worship.’…we are really Praise Leaders because praise is tangible while we never really know who may be worshiping.”
I agree that praise is outward, demonstrative and obvious. In fact, there are 8 ways we can praise God and they all have to do with our bodies! I also agree that worship begins in and comes from the heart. Therefore we cannot at any given time know for sure whether those around us are indeed worshiping. Thus, technically we are “praise leaders” when we stand in front of others to sing and/or play.
However, I would like to challenge our thinking a bit here. I believe we are not setting the bar high enough for ourselves if we settle for only being “praise leaders.”
- We can praise on the outside without having a worshiping heart. For example, “the heavens declare the glory of God,” Psalm 19:1 tells us—yet the stars and sun and moon don’t have a soul or spirit to truly worship God. Jesus said the rocks will cry out if we don’t praise him—yet rocks can only praise on the outside; they certainly cannot worship from their heartless centers! But, while praise can happen without having a worshiping heart, a worshiping heart will eventually and consistently bubble out praise.
- If I am only a praise leader, then my primary responsibility is to adequately encourage others to follow me in praising God—through singing, clapping, kneeling, raising hands, etc. Furthermore, as a praise leader, I only have to fulfill my responsibility when I am standing in front of a congregation of people.
- On the other hand, if I see myself as a worship leader, my primary responsibility goes much deeper and is far more extensive. I am asking people to follow my example of worship. And worship involves everything we do and think and are every moment. I am literally asking people to watch my life, not just on stage on Sundays, but every day. If they “fruit inspect” long enough, they will sense whether my heart is pure and my praise to God (therefore) is real.