Developing a Devotional Worship Habit
Growth as a worship leader starts with growth as a worshiper. Our own spiritual life is the well that we pour from, and a vibrant personal worship habit leads to a powerful ministry.
As a creative, taking time to be silent and reflective might sound like torture to you. I’m right there with you. Growing up, my quiet times were often spent focusing on focusing, rather than communing with the Almighty. Incorporating music, my most natural heart expression, changed my devotional life, in turn transforming the rest of my life. I’m a firm believer that we can all benefit from developing a consistent worship habit. Here are five ways to create habits and breathe new life into the ones you already have.
This step isn’t that exciting, but it is crucial. There will always be something else to demand your attention, so you have to set a time and stick to it. Pick a time that works for you. I’m all for aspirational living, but if you’re not a morning person, don’t plan to get up at 5 am for a sunrise worship set. If you need three cups of coffee to keep going after lunch, avoid that time as well. This is an important appointment so choose a time when you know you’ll be at your best.
Separate planning and playing
It can be tempting to multitask, but if you’re singing with your Sunday set in mind you can easily and unintentionally find yourself mapping key changes, working on transitions, and assigning songs to your volunteers. That’s not the purpose of this time. This time is sacred so treat it that way. Even if you have a moment of inspiration for this week’s set, make a note and return to it later. I’ve had plenty of personal worship sets become Sunday congregational sets, but that’s not the purpose of this time.
There are a ton of books and readings to find inspiration. If prayer isn’t your natural state, try reading some. The Book of Common Prayer or readings from the Psalms are great places to start. My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers is filled with short writings well worth contemplating. Every year I read In Quietness and Confidence by David Roper, a short, 30-day devotional that always pulls me into a deeper place. It’s beneficial to look to those who have gone before us and grow from their experience.
Forget about excellence
We’re not performing here. Lay the chord charts aside. Ignore the wrong notes. Begin to play and let the Spirit lead you. This has the added benefit of helping you practice playing from the heart. You might find yourself singing songs you didn’t know you had in you.
Listening is an often-neglected part of worship. Our culture isn’t comfortable with silence, but we have to learn to be. Praying and singing are wonderful, but the revelation comes when we truly take time to listen. Don’t be afraid to be still. Put your instrument down. Breathe deep. Ask a question and wait for an answer. Speak truth and let it hang in the air. Sometimes God’s voice comes in a whisper. This time can be so special you may start incorporating listening moments into your congregational sets.
In conclusion, deepening our spiritual well only gives us more to offer others. Spending time at the feet of Jesus refills us with wonder and we begin to see His hand in all we do. Take time to connect with God through the passions and gifts He created in you, and you’ll develop a whole lot more than a habit.
About Jason Houtsma
Jason Houtsma is the co-founder and guitar instructor for WorshipArtistry.com, a worship song tutorial service that arranges complex worship songs to be played with a five-piece band and vocals. His heart is to help musicians of every skill level play with passion and confidence. He’s also the worship pastor for Mosaic Church in Bellingham, WA, married to his best friend and dad to two rambunctious boys.