You know what it’s like. Somehow this week everything has been against you, a litany of troubling stuff – the kids, the car, the plumbing, the electrics, the traffic, the job, the shopping, the bank balance – and they all add up to leave you feeling wrecked, empty, frustrated and down. And of course you are on the rota to lead worship this coming Sunday.
You now have perhaps three basic options.
1 you cry off leading worship
2 you lead worship as if everything was fine
3 you recognise what’s been going on, so you lead from a place of brokenness.
1 is dangerous. God has called you to this. Don’t give up on your calling. Press into God for His strength to pull you through. That advice comes with a red flag of its own. Are you at a breaking point? If so the right advice might be to plan a break, a holiday, some quality rest, even some spiritual input, a worship conference perchance. Not this week, but very soon! We have to wise up about the state of our metal health, but balance that with a steadfast faithfulness that will not give up easily.
2 if you are a leader, this might be you normal option. You get your game face on and get on with the job. It’s not quite living in denial but it is summoning the strength to rise to the occasion – that amazing opportunity to be a part of that which lifts the spirits of the congregation that you serve. You will most certainly feel better after a worship session like this and God will honour you for your servant-heartedness.
3 is also an incredibly important option. This is you being vulnerable and hopefully curating songs to lead people through your pain and out into hope, recognising that there will be many who will resonate with your experience. You can certainly see this at work in some of the Psalms. Beware though of this becoming a pity party or of leading people into hopelessness. Even from a pit of despair we still look up in hope, after all, Salvation is a much broader word biblically than how we tend to use it these days. But of course vulnerability is also a close relative of authenticity. You must be authentic, otherwise what you are offering is not really worship. It’s how you do that when you are in front of the congregation. Maybe you need a personal worship time, just you and Jesus where you can lay all the cares and woes before Him. Then come before the congregation to lead them from the place of the renewed strength you have received.
In the meantime whether you are feeling like option 1, 2 or 3, if you are at a point of breaking, you need to be talking with your pastor and exploring options for moving forward. You are not indispensable after all! Together, can you identify someone who is or can be a part of your team who would be able to lead worship in your stead? If so, great – develop them and learn to delegate to them. Or are there worship leaders around the town or city who you could call on to cover? If not, there are tech means these days to provide a competent someone with the tools to provide some music for sung worship (I’d suggest this is the emergency backup option!). It will be different but importantly you’ve planned it and put it in the diary and you get to have a well-earned break.