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Worship Leader Highlight - Mandy Thompson

By Mandy Thompson on November 06, 2010

1. When and how did you know you were called to ministry?

When I was in high school, I told my parents that I didn't yet know what I wanted to do in life, but I knew that someday when I hand someone my "business card" they'd know I work for God. Then college came, and I found myself leading worship - and leading a band of upperclassmen. The summer before, my college pastor sat me down and told me that he saw a gift in me - a gift to lead worship - to understand how it worked and how to lead others. He's not the only leader in my life who has had that talk with me. I guess I looked up to them enough to believe, despite my own fears and nervousness and hesitations, that they saw what God has placed in me.

2. What do you do to keep yourself fresh as a worship leader and/or songwriter?

1) As an artist in general, I find that listening to new music and reading song stories, informative articles, etc, really help me keep a finger on the pulse of worship music.

2) As a worship leader, I like to play "under" other worship leaders. I get a chance to sit back and soak up their styles and fortes. It challenges and inspires me.

3) As a songwriter, I write. There's no other growth edge than to constantly write write write. If I'm not writing, I'm not growing in my craft. Of course, I also listen to amazing music and study up on songwriting techniques.

3. What are five worship songs you are really connecting with currently?

Top pick: Miriam Webster's "Made Me Glad" - I'm absolutely amazed at how well she puts scripture to music.

Also, Lehman's breathtaking hymn "The Love of God" - this song is nothing short of a lyrical and poetic masterpiece.

John Mark McMillan's "How He Loves" - "if grace is an ocean, we're all sinking" is unquestionably the richest and most profound lyric to rise out of the bulging anthology of our generation's worship songs.

Townend and Getty's "In Christ Alone" - the theology and authenticity of this song is a must-have for every congregation.

Matt Maher's "Christ has Risen" - this is more than a song; it's an experience.

4. What is the most important thing you would share with an up-and-coming artist or worship leader?

"It's never about you. It's always about them."

Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Ephesians 4:11-12 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.

5. Could you share one of your most embarrassing moments while leading worship?

Wow. Well... This is more sad than embarrassing, but it's all I've got: I can think of three moments when I've started singing a song in the wrong key. Once when I just hadn't practiced (lesson learned). Second time was a noticeably shaky start to "Mighty to Save;" even though I quickly recovered and climbed into the melody, my heart does that funny nervous flip whenever I utter the first syllable in "everyone." The worst time - well - this is much more sad-embarrassing than funny-embarrassing. It happened on Mother's Day a year ago. A nice lady at the church said hello to me, and asked if I had any kids. I tried to smile as I said no. What she didn't know was that this was supposed to be my first "Mother's day" but we had a miscarriage instead. The Sunday was hard. Then there was that question. I tried to shake it off as I stepped up front and grabbed my guitar, but our pastor's sincere prayer for all the mothers in the room wasn't helping. So we hit the first few chords of "How Great Thou Art" and my mind and voice did not land in the right key. I could not find the note. I couldn't. I looked at our pianist, we stopped, she tapped lightly on that starting note, and we launched back in. I've never felt more exposed while leading worship.

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Mandy serves as Director of Congregational Services at The Chapel in Brunswick, GA. To find out more about Mandy, visit our Leadership page or her blog.

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