Thursday, August 17, 2006

Follow the Leader

"My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me."
--John 10:27

This Sunday I was up in the control room, coaching two of our new volunteers in the art of running a PowerPoint slideshow during the Sunday service. The music is not scripted, but very much "flows with the moving of the Spirit." Therefore, as the worship song is sung, the PowerPoint operator has to pay close attention to the worship leader. Sometimes he cues us by saying the first few words he will sing next. Sometimes the cue is how the song is rising or falling in tempo. The cues are always there, but some times they are harder to read than others.

The most important rule to follow is: pay close attention to the worship leader. You must take care not to not get distracted by the others talking and working next to you in the balcony, or even not get too caught up in singing the song that you miss your cue from the worship leader.

So this Sunday, I stood in the balcony, pointing out to the new volunteers the the more subtle cues. One of the hardest to get right is to not move ahead to the next slide too fast. Often we will sing a chorus over and over again. We don't want the slideshow to rush ahead of the worship leader.

Recently, I had discovered that the worship leader not only giving clues for the PowerPoint operator. The musicians and the vocalists also need to pay attention to the cues of the worship leader. Sunday I watched as Larry, a new addition to our vocalist group, paid close attention to Mark as he led the worship. As long as Larry knew where Mark was going with the song, Larry then felt free to improvise his vocal parts, singing so eloquently in the background. But again, in order to do that, he had to pay close attention to the leader.

As I watched this play out from my spot in the balcony, I considered how this mirrors how we are to follow Christ. I know I would like my life to be more scripted, to know the timing and the order of things to happen in my life. It is distressing when my life get out of order. Of worse, when I get stuck in one place too long for me, and I long to move ahead.

But my life is not my own. It is hidden in Christ. Only He knows the best ebb and flow, the right rhythm, the right order. Instead of getting caught up in what is happening in the world, or even in my own life too much, I need to play close attention to my Leader and listen carefully for His cues. Sometimes they are subtle and I can easily miss them.

When I listen closely and know where my Leader is going, I can be free to be creative and use the gifts He has given me in freedom, knowing it will fit in with the other things He is doing, like how Larry did on Sunday.

Another interesting component to this on Sunday was watching Pastor Jeff. Usually he leads worship himself, but today, he was being led in worship by Mark. He spent some time in the balcony with us, but then got a microphone and I thought he was going to join the singers on the stage, but instead, he joined the audience. My guess is, he did not think they were involved enough. So, again, paying close attention to the leader, Pastor Jeff began to sing from the audience and clap in response, getting those in the audience to join him.

I realized that even the audience has an important part in worship.

As believers in Christ, we all have a vital role to play. As we follow the Leader, others watch us. As we joyfully sing in the song of redemptive life, as we clap in response and follow Christ, others see us and are encouraged to follow along too. Maybe not all, but that is not the point.

Often I have been tempted to lead others to response to Christ by my words, by my instructions. But this no longer seems productive to me. I need to lead others towards Christ with my life, by following the Leader myself, by acting in response to His cues to me. In the past I have only gotten distracted from following the Leader myself when I spend too much energy trying to instruct others.

So I am going to follow the Leader, listening closely to His Word, listening to His voice speaking to my heart, knowing that hidden in there, there is a cue for me today.

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