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WORSHIP: How Distract"ed" Can Become Distract"ing"

WORSHIP: How Distract"ed" Can Become Distract"ing"

By Sophie Shear on November 10, 2013

In all my years of vocal coaching and teaching Master Classes for choirs and worship teams, never have I seen anyone raise their hand when asked this question... 

“Have you ever been given permission to work on your voice?” 

Most singers are stuck in one of two categories: 

1. “I’m not a REAL singer, I just sing on the praise team/ in the choir because I enjoy it. But I’m not a professional, so I don’t want to take myself too seriously." 


2. “I’m good enough already. God wouldn’t have put me in this position if He didn’t think I had the talent that I need to do the job." 

To the people in category 1. IT’S OKAY TO STRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE. God calls us to be diligent, thorough, and hard-working. Don’t make light of His work - fulfilled through your vocal abilities. He called you to stand in front of the congregation, help open wide the emotional door and usher people in. And if you don’t agree with that statement, then why are you up there? Ephesians 2:10: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” 

To the people in category 2. If God called a man to be a pastor, you’d expect him to know a thing or two about the Word, and have been to school for it. Why is your position different? I’m not saying you need to have a degree in vocal performance to sing at church, but take it seriously. If you feel the Lord has called you to that stage, you’ve probably seen Him teaching you something through the process. Don’t assume this stops at your vocal abilities. Ask Him to search your heart, and guard you against pride. Proverbs 11:2: “When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom.” 

Here’s the deal, “leading” simply means, TO GO BEFORE. When we’re up there, we are simply worshipping first. This is why I prefer to say “LEAD WORSHIPPERS,” rather than Worship Leaders. 

There is a weight that comes with demonstrating the act of worship for others to feel led, and comfortable enough to do the same. R-E-S-P-O-N-S-I-B-I-L-I-T-Y. God leads us, we lead the congregation, they lead their families. Responsibility is our response. 

The breakdown: Don’t be distracting. And what’s the number one thing that can cause our example of worship to be distracting? US BEING DISTRACTED. 

Singers in category 1 are distracting by making the listeners worried or nervous for them. They try to be invisible up on stage, because they tell themselves “oh, it’s not about me,” and they end up drawing more attention through their lack of confidence, ownership, and authority. Category 2 singers are distracting with their showy-ness and over-confidence. Listeners don’t get nervous for them, but get lost in their presentation and almost “forget” to actually participate in the worship. 

Now look, I don’t believe that we’re responsible for "saving,” don’t misunderstand. As if singing well = more souls in the Kingdom. God doesn't need your help. He’s God. He said light, and BAM. 

The goal is not perfection, but to offend the least. Not offend a sense of morality, but offend the ears. Funny, how it’s easier to put more weight and importance in bringing our best for people, than bringing our best for God or His purposes. 

We’ve all done it. Put more pressure on ourselves preparing for a non-church gig than for a Sunday morning. We tend to want to do better when our peers are listening rather than participating with us in corporate worship. 

God CREATED these talents and abilities in you. What are we saying to Him if we take this beautiful package, perfectly wrapped, take the bow off the top and hand the box back to Him? With a birthday present, sometimes the gift is buried way in there, under layers of tissue paper. You have to dig, and may not know what it is right away. Ever done that? “Thaaaaaaanks. It’s a... um, what is it?” 

I’d bet anything you’ve witnessed (or experienced) something like this with your voice: “Amaaaaazing graaaaace, hooow sweeeet, the sound. That saaaaved a wretch, liiike…. SCREECH!” We aim. We shoot. Something goes wrong. We fall short of the glory of God in that off-pitch, cracked note. If you were sitting in the pew, it wouldn’t exactly inspire true worship, would it? 

How on earth do we expect to lead others fearlessly to the feet of God if we’re rendered helpless and utterly distracted by our lack of vocal control? 

So, in case it’s never been made official: I’m giving you permission to work on your voice. Take it seriously. Find advice that works and makes sense. Do it, and don’t feel embarrassed by it, selfish as a result of it, or too good for it.

(Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.)

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Sophie Shear

Sophie Shear (Guest Writer)

Sophie Shear is a Commercial Vocal Coach in Nashville, TN. She coaches privately out of her studio on legendary Music Row in Nashville, travels to teach Vocal Masterclasses at churches across the Country, and sings on the worship team at her home church.