I have a lot of room to improve in a lot of areas. One specific area where I’m finding it particularly fruitful to lean into during this residency is leading worship. I’ve led worship some in the past, but the heaviest pressure of this type I’ve ever experienced has been the worship leader assessments.
As Paul is handsomely modeling for us in the photo, a worship leader assessment is about as fun as it sounds. You stand up with your acoustic, with no band, and sing songs and give exhortations through a microphone that is turned up way too loud, to a crowd that is worshiping, not by singing along or clapping or cheering, but by taking notes about you. Everything from musical and vocal proficiency, to theological accuracy in every word you say, to eye contact. Oh yeah, and this crowd is made up of some of the best worship leaders I can think of. And all the other residents.
Having been a part of this church for some time, I’m a familiar face to these excellent, intimidating worship leaders, but they don’t know me as a worship leader. They know me as a guitarist or “the studio resident”, or “Kyle’s henchman”. At first I was off the hook for these assessments since I’m not technically a worship leader’s resident, but I asked if I could be a part of it because I want to take this season to see if God may be calling me to be a worship leader, despite my introversion and stage fright and what-have-you. The fact that I’ve known these guys for years, and had never sung in front of them, made it that much tenser for me.
I completed my second assessment on Thursday. The assignment was to sing two songs and say a few sentences between them which connected the two songs together and helped the worshipers’ hearts get onboard with what I was singing about. Leading up to the moment I walked up and started strumming, I thought, “Either God is going to give me peace about this, or I’m going to pass out and I won’t have to do it. Either way, nothing to worry about!” He absolutely came through and provided everything I needed to do it, with all my flaws boldly exposed for the best possible feedback. I’m nothing but thankful for all of it, positive and negative. I’m blessed to be in a church with worship leaders who love their residents enough to take an afternoon to cut us with faithful, friendly wounds.
This has been one of the biggest ways I’ve felt God working on me in this residency. Even if I never end up being a full-time worship leader, he is using these assessments to teach me to lean on him for the grace to get through hard things and to keep stepping out in faith that he will go with me wherever he calls me. There are still many things I can’t imagine myself doing with the amount of tenacity I have at this moment, but the more I step out in times like these, I find myself surer that he’s leading me to places I couldn’t go alone.
And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
Within Thy house forever
– “King Of Love”