I just returned from being in Asia for over two weeks. It was the fourth year in a row that I have worked in the same area by coming alongside the work of the national believers by way of SBC connections. My approach to missions has been markedly different in the last several years as described here. While I have done large-scale training similar to what I do in the US, my work has been primarily mentoring and discipling a small group of nationals with great leadership potential who can make a huge impact on the worship life of their country. In fact in the past years, I have been amazed at how God has used these individuals to train, equip, evangelize, and plant churches in their own region and in distant places.
In addition to training, equipping and resourcing my team of nationals, I feel one of my greatest God-given responsibilities is to love and encourage these young men and women. Certainly that has been a part of my relationship with them in the past years–reminding them that God is sufficient for all they need, nudging them to push beyond their self-imposed limitations, encouraging them (cheering them on) in their good works, and to truly love them like my own children. It is hard to describe the love that God has placed in my heart for these people from a different culture who speak a different language, but it is incredibly deep. Our interaction does not stop when I leave their country, but continues through weekly communication to offer prayers for their work, encourage them, give them advice about struggles, and so much more.
This past time of ministry revealed to me something I have never put in my teaching notes nor really taught in numerous seminars, conferences and events. My national team and I had just finished a three-day event with many worship teams in attendance. In the last hour, people were sharing about their major take-aways from the conference. I had taught a great amount of material and the response throughout had been really great. I could tell the people were absorbing and discussing how to put into practice many of the concepts. As I listened to their major take-aways, I imagined which of the many topics I taught would be beautifully expounded–the spiritual qualities needed in worship team members? How to have great band rehearsals? How to craft beautiful transitions between songs? How to play better as a band in the sonic spectrum? I could go on and on.
The answer that astonished me was this one expressed by a worship leader: “I was most impacted by the way the teacher deeply loves his team. I realize I do not show that same love and compassion for my team members–it’s not something I ever thought about before as something that is needed, but I see how important it is.”
I sat in stunned silence. I never entered that training venue with the thought of demonstrating love for my team members to be an example to others. I never once spoke/taught about the need to show unconditional love for my team. I never even thought about the benefits of loving my team in order for them to be better worship leaders. I spent weeks preparing the material for those days and countless hours preparing handouts and slides in a foreign language to make the presentation as impacting as possible. This preparation was indeed very important to my work there. But now I hear that the one thing I didn’t prepare for, the one thing that didn’t require musical or worship expertise–unconditional love for my team–may have had the most impact on some that attended.
Oh, the power of our Christian love shown to others! Do you love your worship team deeply? Are you an encourager to them? Are they comfortable sharing life with you?
Musicianship is important in worship leading. Love may be the most important thing we can do to develop our teams into the men and women God wants them to be.
I might need to go back to my teaching notes and make some additions.
Thanks be to God for the love He has shown us. May God help us exemplify that love in our lives.