Worship Corner - Columns/Blogs, Song Stories and Articles
About Gerrit Gustafson

Gerrit Gustafson, based in the Nashville area, is a songwriter (Only by Grace, Mighty is Our God), producer - publisher (wholeheartedworship.com), author (The Adventure of Worship) and worship teacher (worshipschools.com).

On Being a Good Butler

So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ.  I Corinthians 4:1

Scenario 1:  You have received an invitation to dine with a distinguished community leader.  On the appointed day, you anxiously arrive at the massive entrance to his palatial estate, ring the bell and wait.  Immediately you are greeted by a gracious butler who takes your coat, puts you at ease with just the right words of how glad the host is that you have come, and escorts you down the hallway to the presence of the revered and generous host.  After greetings and introductions, a great feast begins...

Scenario 2:  Same invitation... same palatial estate... same massive entrance.  This time, however, the butler, after taking your coat, strikes up a conversation with you in the foyer about the weather, his health, what his children want to study when they go to college, and so forth.  You're drawn into the conversation, and after a lengthy and engaging chat you take your coat and go home.  On the way home, you come to an alarming realization:  you never saw the host!

You say, "it would never happen!"  But sadly, it happens all too often.  Worship leaders and musicians (...and really all ministers) are like butlers whose job it is to bring the congregation before the King.  But many people on their way home from the service find themselves with a nagging dissatisfaction... they didn't get to see the King.

Being Good Butlers
How can we who serve in God's house make sure we are good butlers?  Let's consider 3 words:  Purification, Consecration, and Service.

First, purification.  Many church musicians were, as I was, musicians trained by the world.  I played jazz and learned to love that feeling that came when you aced your solo and the crowd clapped and cheered. Guess what?  You can get addicted to that.  Guess what else?  That addiction's got to go before you're ready for God's service.  In God's rehab, i.e. discipleship, you'll learn that there's another audience you'll be performing for:  God Himself.  His "well done, good and faithful servant" is what you live for now.

Deep-sea divers have decompression chambers. Our music ministries need something similar.  In Christian music, whenever our shepherds notice that we're drinking too deeply of the people's accolades, they should invite us to the decompression chamber:  "Take a couple of months off until the joy of singing in your living room before God alone is greater than singing before the congregation."

Music, apart from God, has a contaminating mark that goes all the way back to the origin of human culture in Genesis 11 and the story of the tower of Babel.  Their governing passion was to make a name for themselves. In contrast, God told Abraham in Genesis 12, that, if he would walk in obedience, he would bless nations, and God Himself would make Abraham's name great.

Purification is about moving from Genesis 11 to Genesis 12... from a self-promoting passion to a God-honoring passion... from wanting to make your name great to wanting to glorify God and be a blessing. 

Next, consecration. 
Consecration means to be set apart or devoted to a specific sacred task or purpose.  Before the ark of God's presence returned to the city of David in I Chronicles 15, the priests consecrated themselves.  Before the glory of God filled Solomon's temple in II Chronicles 5, the priests consecrated themselves.

Modern day worship ministries need to be consecrated too.  In II Chronicles 5, we see the dynamics of consecration:

"All the priests who were there had consecrated themselves... All the priests who were musicians... stood on the east side of the altar, dressed in fine linen and playing cymbals, harps and lyres.  They were accompanied by 120 priests sounding trumpets.  The trumpeters and singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the Lord."

Of interest to me is that they joined as one "to give praise and thanks to the Lord." They weren't uncertain about their purpose.  Oh, the awesome force of being united in purpose!  When they put those linen garments on, it was like a soccer team dressing out to play for the championship, except their task at hand was to bring sacrifices of praise to God!  It wasn't to entertain the congregation; it wasn't to make a name for themselves as the best worship team in the Middle East.  It was to minister to the Lord.

May I suggest that on every occasion of public ministry, before you walk through the doors, you and your team mentally put on the linen garments of praise... that you unite yourselves in the holy purpose of leading God's people to the One who is really worthy of praise... that you remind yourselves that it's about Him and not you.

Now, service. 
Did you know that in both the Hebrew and Greek languages, the words for service, worship and ministry are almost synonymous?  Worship is service.  Service is ministry. 

The desire to serve is the Kingdom characteristic that our King so perfectly exemplifies.  Jesus said He came not to be served but to serve.  What an amazing contrast to the ways of the world!  Here is the Creator of the universe  --  that's pretty important --  not trying to convince anyone how important He is, but serving His Father's honor and the needs of those around Him.  As a result, His Father highly exalted His name!

I love to think of the Church as heaven's colony on earth, where its citizens reflect the ways of their King... a kingdom where everyone - including the musicians - are servants.

Picture this:  worship leaders who have become good butlers... cleansed of the Babylonian taint... consecrated and united for a holy purpose... devoted to a lifestyle of service.

"May I take your coat.  My Master is eager to see you.  Here... right down this hall."

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Anonymous Posted 11/19/2008 11:28:00 AM
About one year ago, I had a dream that I stepped up to the pulpit and my sermon was: "Worship Him, because HE IS KING." I believe this sums up the article that was so well written and expressed (above). As a worship leader, my calling is to be a WORSHIPPER - because HE IS KING. I try not to look at the people at all, while I worship. Some may really frown on this. But it is distracting for me to do so. My first time ever leading worship in church - I never looked once at the people, I just sat down at the keyboard and worshiped with all of my heart. The Pastor, his wife and many others expressed to me that they were truly able to worship the Lord with great freedom, because I was doing so, myself. I know some have said that we should look and be conscious of the congregation to make sure they are being impacted - but I can't do that. It takes me out of my place of worship, and then I truly feel I am less effective. But, I have much to learn - I just know this is where I'm at now, as the Holy Spirit teaches me how to be His vessel in this way. Bless you for your comments. I grew today, because I read every word! In Christ alone. Lisa, Illinois
Anonymous Posted 11/19/2008 11:17:12 AM
In response to the question: what do you do if you are on a team that is all for show? How do you deal with a congregation that doesn't want to be ushered to the King, but ushered in a "certain way"? First - PRAY. Second - PRAY. Third, ask God to search you and help you show up and worship Him with all your heart. Forth, ask the Lord to help you speak with the leader about it in a way that is humble, loving and genuine (but don't do so without being covered in prayer - or else you may come off looking proud/judgmental and then your words may be rejected. Fifth - teaching needs to happen - but God has you there to be a great example. My husband and I have been tremendous worshipers for years, and everywhere we go - we have seen people 'catch' a spirit of worship. It rubs off on people...it causes the Lord's light to shine and His spirit to rest on you... be patient with the sheep - even if wayward - as you pray and seek the Lord and love them, being a worshiper, for not other reason than because HE IS KING, the Lord will work!
Anonymous Posted 11/6/2008 7:49:07 PM
I heard a prayer on a cantata CD that has had a positive effect on the worship I'm involved in. The speaker referenced the first miracle of Christ where he turned water into wine. He said that we who lead worship are like the dirty water that was used for washing. He said even though what we have to give is like dirty water, if Jesus blesses what we present then it will be a miracle in the lives of those who receive it. This is what I pray for and I've seen the miracles. To God be the Glory!
Anonymous Posted 11/6/2008 6:23:51 PM
My prayer before leading worship or singing a solo piece is always that the use of the gift God gave me be a joy to others and bring them in a closer relationship with God. That it enhance their time in worship. Last week our worship team was right on, at the top of our game and someone said to me, "You took me to heaven." That's what it's about.
Anonymous Posted 11/3/2008 5:57:39 AM
I ask these questions as both a pastor and musician: Are we taking our musical (performance, style, segues, etc.) cues from the wrong place? Does the contemporary format of worship have inherent problems that aren't being addressed and require some change? Have we used this format as a draw for people in an unbiblical fashion with secular expectations? Is there adequate teaching from the pulpit warning about unworthy expectations for church and what we're to be about as believers?
Anonymous Posted 11/3/2008 5:57:17 AM
I ask these questions as both a pastor and musician: Are we taking our musical (performance, style, segues, etc.) cues from the wrong place? Does the contemporary format of worship have inherent problems that aren't being addressed and require some change? Have we used this format as a draw for people in an unbiblical fashion with secular expectations? Is there adequate teaching from the pulpit warning about unworthy expectations for church and what we're to be about as believers?
Anonymous Posted 11/2/2008 4:01:26 PM
God is supposed to be our audience of one when we worship. Our worship encourages others, but is not for others. Worship is telling God how worthy He is of my attention. God doesn't care about our voices, or how well we play an instrument; He focuses on the heart. As worship leaders, we are to do our best in service to Him as we truly worship. There should be no performance for others. I feel that leaders are to set an example of themselves freely worshipping and that attitude will trickle down.
Anonymous Posted 11/1/2008 8:43:38 PM
I totally agree with Dr. Lynn Cerullo. God showed up last Sunday. I was not playing at the time, just worshipping. I only have had that kind of visitation twice, only once at this church (been there 6 years). The other time was a worship conference, the same thing happened , like a mighty wind that you couldn't see or hear, you just felt Him blowing through you. Talking with worship leader he said he was unaware. Many believers were talking about but the worship leader was lost in the details.
Anonymous Posted 11/1/2008 10:51:45 AM
Unfortunately, sometimes the guest has no intention of meeting the host, even though the butler guides them into his presence. Sometimes, they are more interested in the room itself, or perhaps even in seeing who else has been invited, than they are in spending time with the host Himself. What, then, is the butler to do?
Anonymous Posted 11/1/2008 6:17:23 AM
Some things I pray before leading the congregation in song worship are: “God, it’s your turn!” and “God, help me to get out of the way so we can better glorify and praise You!”
Anonymous Posted 11/1/2008 12:19:42 AM
Mr Gustafson's article is a great place to start for those who are struggling with the accolades of men, and as a reminder to all of what worship is all about. I intend to forward it to my entire team. Music in the world is exactly the opposite of music in the church, not in the sense of how good it sounds, but in the sense of to whom it brings the glory. The analogy of the Priests and Levites is so true, we as singers and musicians are in a very real sense the New Testament counter part to the Old Testament Levites who offer to our Lord the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of our lips (Heb 13:15). If your team does not have allot of natural talent, its not wrong to recruit talent, but not talent at the expense of a heart willing to serve. Try picking simple songs and work within the skill range of your people if possible. Simple songs done well sound much better than complicated songs done badly. Try slower songs if your drummer has trouble keeping time. And remember 3 things make for better singers and musicians; practice, practice, practice!! Phil Lauzon Congregation Beth Sar Shalom Tucson, AZ
Anonymous Posted 10/31/2008 11:46:51 PM
The Bible tells us to study to show ourselves approved. We as worship leaders and team members are no different from the pastor/teacher in this regard. We must strive for balance in preparing ourselves in the natural (practice your instrument and singing) and also in the spiritual (get on your face before our Sovereign God). And put on humility. Fully learn that you have NOTHING that God did not give you. Be a great butler, but remember Who gave you the job and the equipment to do it. LaMB
Anonymous Posted 10/31/2008 8:36:56 PM
As church musicians, we all struggle with some elements that get in the way, and it is the way we are targeted by the devil. It is easy to get caught up in not sounding the way you want to, but first and foremost, you must allow the Holy Spirit to lead your group, do what you can to be a good leader, and be thankful that at times it will come together. Askin the Holy Spirit to enter in is the most important thing you can do. Be patient with the wayward flock - the Shepherd will lead them.
Anonymous Posted 10/31/2008 6:31:50 PM
To both "Annonymous" re: praying for natural talent/'showy Tell the team that it is time for the level of skill to be elevated iso that the Body can truly enter worship-nevery being distractied by (medicore) musicmanship. Give them the music ahead of time and practice hard with them once a week. Teach them the Word on the skill of musicians (Chronicles and Kings; and Samuel) and forward great articles on worship to them. Raise the bar of their skill and your leadership. - Dr. Lynn Cerullo
Anonymous Posted 10/31/2008 5:17:48 PM
I lead a worship team that doesn't have alot of natural talent. Is it wrong for me to be praying for God to send talent. I allowed teens to participate and now I'm regretting it. What do you do with a drummer that can't keep a beat, and a grandfather that insists that I promised him that he could play. What disappoints me the most, is that someone would want to continue to play even if it effects the entire team. I've got an singer that always wants to be louder. It makes me not want to lead.
Anonymous Posted 10/31/2008 2:37:59 PM
Here is a question I'm a member on a team with people who do this for show. How am I supposed to handle their attitude? And how do you deal with a congregation that doesn't want to be ushered to the King? I mean they have to be ushered in a certain way???

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