You Play the Way You Practice

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This spring has been busy – to say the very least. Pam and I are involved in our local clergy association and spring is a very busy time of year and because I am the musical one, I design our worship experiences as a faith community. Up until Easter I did good, in spending private time with God to worship. Then Easter came and there was yard work to do, along with helping to plan a baccalaureate service and leading worship at a pastor’s gathering. The past couple weeks I ended up concentrating on the urgent – not necessarily the important.

I could feel in my soul and spirit that I was a bit weary. Tuesday night I was especially weary and decided to get alone with my guitar. I started by playing Billy Joel’s “Allentown.” After that I did a little jamming on some songs that I have learned for the sake of not playing with music or chord charts, “Leader of the Band,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” and “Wayfaring Stranger.”

I pulled out my worship book from Sunday. Our Baccalaureate Service was on Sunday and the songs I used were in there. This time with no pressure to perform – plus on Sunday night I had a technical glitch that I could figure out, which took away from the experience – I played through the songs again, adding some that fit. I ended up spending about 45 minutes to an hour in worship of our great God and it was amazing. It was an uplift to my spirit and I felt myself spiritually renewed.

Which brings us to the title of this post You Play the Way You Practice. One of the dangers of being a worship leader is that you are always leading worship for someone else, and sometimes we forget the One for whom we do this. My college choral director was fond of telling our choir that you play the way you practice, meaning that if you do it sloppy in rehearsal, you will slop through the performance.

I am a huge believer in both corporate and private worship and this week I was reminded of the importance of private worship – with no one to sing to EXCEPT the Audience of One – who is the only one worthy of our songs of praise in the first place. Before we ever desire to be leading in corporate worship, we need to have our hearts prepared in private worship. My prayer for my worship leader friends is that they are always prepared by worshiping in private before leading in public worship.

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