As a musical worship leader I rarely find myself on the other side of the microphone/guitar/piano, and when I do it seems I encounter a struggle and become guilty of the very thing that bugs me most: I become a critic. I seem to always be distracted by the way an instrument is being played, or the way a song is being sung, or the lyric and subject content both when it impresses me, or bugs the (sinful) perfectionist in me. This leaves me in a lonely place sometimes and keeps me from a valuable, refreshing, and true experience of God.

What I mean is this: As a music leader it is challenging to respond in a way that is free from the thoughts associated with the duty. I’m thinking about the music, the chords, the next line of lyrics, the upcoming transition, am I with the click, and on and on. My mind and heart are toward God and responding to the truth, but I'm also processing many other things. Its like trying to have conversation with my dentist while getting my teeth cleaned. I can nod yes and no and speak in between the grinding and slurping, but the conversation is never very deep.

I do find times to worship with music on my own, free of the duties of congregational leading, but I am sure you'll agree, it is an awesome thing to be in a room of God's children and join together in response to God. So I confess, when I get that chance to enjoy that experience to the fullest, I sin. I am either trying to learn something, or the critic seeps in.

This week, though, I had a rare experience. I was standing in a congregation and we were singing a song I have sung dozens of times. In the midst of my watching and learning, I was floored by the words, "to be captured inside the wonder of who You are." I looked around at a thousand plus people singing along, and it hit me...hard! I was not allowing myself to see and experience the wonder all around me. That He has saved us, that He has turned our hardened, stony hearts into flesh, and that I was in a room with many people who have experienced and shared in the same thing. I was watching and learning and half-heartedly singing, "I want to be captured in wonder of Gods mystery,” oblivious to the fact that I'm right in the middle of it.

I sat down in my seat in a room full of standing people, and I wept. I responded to the truth and the evidence of Gods work. I thanked God for saving me, for saving us all, for opening our eyes to His grace...and I confessed my sin.

The next time I find myself on either side of the mic, I pray I can remember the truth I experienced in that moment, and see that I'm standing in a room full of people who have shared in the astounding grace God has given to all of us, that grace by which He has brought us together, so that I can fully, with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength, marvel at Gods work and push the critic aside.

Am I alone in this battle? What helps you push aside the learner and the critic and respond without distraction?

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