Posted by Andy Park on 10 June 2014

In my early 20s, I served as an interim pastor in two different churches where both the pastors were gifted. Skilled teachers, they had the ability to draw large numbers of people. 
I wasn't sure what I was supposed to do with my life. I thought I was headed for full-time ministry. But when I compared myself with those gifted leaders, I couldn't see how I would 'make the grade'. I couldn't see how my particular mix of spiritual gifts would enable me to excel in pastoral work. 
I led small groups, taught Bible studies, counselled younger Christians and led worship. I did reasonably well. But I wasn't setting the world on fire as an evangelist - or drawing great numbers to the groups. 
My greatest strength was always in music. I had lesser gifts in other areas. I wanted to be faithful to use my gifts to fully serve God, but I didn't see how I could fit into a staff position. I wondered if my quiet personality would be a liability to me as a pastor. 
Amid that soul-searching, I was invited to join a church planting team in Langley, British Columbia. I majored in worship while working in other  areas of ministry. Suddenly I found myself in an environment where I thrived.
I was encouraged to develop worship leaders for small groups and Sunday services. I was amazed at the turnaround in my ministry in such a short time. I wasn't a dynamic speaker with a magnetic personality, yet God could use me to impart the heart and skills required to be a worship leader. 
That was the first of many experiences in learning not to compare myself with other ministers. I was measuring my worth and calling by the gifts and callings of others - when all I had to do was minister with the gifts and strengths God had given me. 
'Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve ethers,' says the apostle Peter, ‘faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides' (1 Peter 4:10-11). 
That scripture contains essential lessons. We all have different gifts. Although we can sharpen the tools God gives us, we can?t determine what those tools are. Our tendency is to see a gifted person and ask, 'Why couldn't I have been given that ability?' I often marvel at God's sovereignty the way he calls and endows each person uniquely. 
Many times I've had to repent of jealousy of another's gifts or position and realise God is the boss. 'There are different kinds of gums, but the same Spirit,' we're told in 1 Corinthians 
12:4-6. 'There are deferent kinds of service but the same Lord. There are different effects but the same God works all of them in all men.' 
He is the only source of our gifts. To forget that is to stand in awe of gifted leaders around us, rather than give glory to him. 
Our world defines success as gaining power and influence. We must re-educate ourselves according to God's values. Peter tells us if we're faithful to give away whatever God has given us, we've found success. Success equals obedience. 
In heaven, I doubt that Jesus will ask us, 'How many people did you minister to?' He'll ask, 'Were you faithful to use all the talents I gave you for the kingdom? My problem of comparing myself to others didn't stop there. The more worship leaders I was exposed to, the more people I saw with greater expertise than I had - either vocal or instrumental ability, or skill in song-writing. 
I had a hard time not being envious. Confessing my weakness to God and others, I learned to rejoice in others' successes and thank God for their gifts. God began to plant in me a generous, unselfish heart so I could be genuinely happy when others around me reached new heights in worship leading. I don't think there was a magical moment in that process. It was a matter of being relentless to gain the heart of God and turn away from my self—centredness. 
DELIVER THE MAIL 
It comes into clear perspective when we 'use whatever gifts we have received’. It's like being a postman. I pick up the packages at the post office and simply deliver them to the people. 
I can be careful in my delivery, but I can't (determine what's inside the packages. I'm simply giving away whatever I get from God. He determines the gift's size and contents. On that 'mail route', I encounter rain, sleet, snow — even the occasional angry, barking dog! But as they used to say in the days of the wild west, 'The mail must go through!' 
In small group meetings, I've experienced interruptions during worship - phones ringing, kids running around, latecomers disturbing the worship time. In larger settings, I've experienced conflicts with other worship leaders and pastors. During those times I'm reminded worship is about God not me. I'm not there so people will marvel at my musical gifts. I'm there to serve God and the people.
SEEK TO SERVE 
God never promised worship would always be an ecstatic experience. Feeling his presence is a wonderful by-product, but it's not something we can control. We exalt him. He decides how much of his Spirit he will pour out. I've learned to resist judging the value of a worship set on the basis of what I feel. I used to agonise over my `mistakes'. Then I realised the motivation for that critical analysis was just a great concern over how good I looked - rather than a jealousy for God's glory to be present. So I stopped navel-gazing. 
In the past 20 years, I've attended and led worship in six different churches. Some of those have been new church plants. Some have been large established churches. I've worked with all kinds of musicians in all kinds of church meetings, conferences and retreats. Each situation calls for a different approach. But all require the attitude of a servant. 
I also see worship leading as feeding the sheep with nutritious foods that suit their needs. Different flocks feed on different food. They all have the same basic diet, but they also have their favourite dishes. My challenge is to serve an enjoyable meal while trying to get as much direction as I can from the Head Chef. Feeding them their favourite dish at every meal isn't wise. God has a long term diet plan that includes all kinds of food - celebration, consecration, repentance and intimate love songs. It's good to introduce something new. But it may take people a while to get used to it. So their response isn't always overwhelming. On the other hand, I try to give them some favourite songs at every 'meal'. If I don't, I end up with a flock of unhappy sheep staring at me. 
HEAR THE BOSS 
Worship leading is a balancing act between the pastoral and prophetic. I'm called to tenderly care for the clock, leading them patiently as they grow in their knowledge of God. If there's a lack of responsiveness in the people, I accept them right where they are and do my best to take them one step further. 
But I also have the responsibility of giving expression to whatever God is saying. As worship leaders, we must call the people to commitment and consecration. For example, some of the songs we sing point out the gap between God's calling to us and our present level of obedience. 
If I do my best to see with the gifts and strength God provides, he will be praised. As a servant I must continue to do all I can to 'administer God's grace'. The results are up to him. 

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