My name is Garner. No, not Conner, Gavin, Garrett, Gill, and especially not Gardner. As you can tell sometimes people can’t remember my name. I usually just go with it and then my bandmates will call such name at any given time. I’m ok with it. I’ve got a weird name. For those of you who might not know, I am a Worship Leader at Harvest Church in Murfreesboro, TN, as well as a staff member with Here Be Lions. I wear many hats and I thoroughly enjoy what I get to do.
I’ve been leading worship, or have been a part of a ministry team, since I was about 16 years old. I’m 31 now, so I have a little bit of experience. I’ve been a part of some incredible moments with God and His people, and I’ve also been a part of some deep, soul-searching moments that changed my life forever.
One of the main points I want to get across to all the Worship Leaders or people involved with ministry out there is the importance of honor. I’m going to share a bit about my testimony so that you can see where I’m coming from.
When I was about 17 or 18, I was stepping into the role of Worship Leader at my parents' church. For anyone out there who has worked with family, sometimes it’s not the easiest thing. Being about 18 made it even more difficult. I was so caught up in the music, the lights, the production, that I forgot about the people of God. I was that guy who would get super annoyed if anyone hit a wrong note. I wanted perfection. So, to make a long story short, eventually my dad and I came to a crossroads. He was the Pastor and was wanted things done a certain way, and I was the young Worship Leader who thought he knew everything. Then one Sunday after church we had a heated conversation. I looked him in the eyes and told him he was the reason the church wasn’t growing. Those are some pretty strong words coming from someone who hadn’t proven themselves at anything. I could tell those words hurt my dad, but I felt nothing.
Early the next morning, it must’ve been 1:00 or 2:00am, God woke me up and showed me everything my parents had been through in trying to follow the call on their lives. Side-note, my parents were/are missionaries from South Africa to the USA. In that moment God showed me, in what I can only describe as a slide-show, pictures of them singing worship songs in front of Walmarts and Kmarts just to try to get enough money to feed us kids. I was an infant at the time. It was after this that I was completely broken. With tears running down my face I ran to his room. Remember, it’s 2:00am. I’m crying and I woke him up and told him that from that point on, I was going to honor him. I told him if he wants to do 50 hymns on a Sunday, then I’ll do it. I told him I was so sorry and that I was wrong. It was after that, that this verse came alive in me.
“And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers." Malachi 4:6
That moment shifted something in me. That moment, I believe, put me on the course that I am on today. Being a worship leader is so much more than singing songs. It’s about having a heart for the people of God, as well as getting everyone on the same page to worship the living God. It’s about being able to work with the Pastor of the house. It’s about being teachable and humble. It’s about being hungry, not only for the blessings of God, but even for His correction. The correction of God saved my life and I hope that this tiny glimpse into my story can bring hope to you. I believe that God wants authenticity more than perfection. I’m all about playing skillfully, I believe that there is a place for that, but when that comes above caring for the people you serve with, there's a problem.
I look forward to sharing more on Worship. It’s a huge part of my life and I’ve had amazing experiences that I’d love expound upon. God wants to put us in places to succeed. For me, God had to show me who I really was for me to realize what I needed to change.
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