At Southern Seminary and Boyce College we are training worship leaders for the church. This training includes music skills, biblical and theological studies, administrative skills, and practical ministry skills. There is so much to teach and so little time to help prepare these leaders for the church. Despite all of this training, we must constantly remind our students (and professors) that our character is of foremost importance in our training and in our serving.
The Apostle Paul reminds Timothy that he should “set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” He instructs Timothy to “keep watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (I Timothy 4: 12, 16). No matter how wonderful a musician one may be or how eloquent at leading worship, a person’s character is the foremost trait to seek and maintain.
In Spurgeon’s Letters to My Students he quotes Robert Murray M’Cheyne: “It is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.” Worship leaders need to seek to be conformed to the image of Christ daily. Who we are during the day to day work of ministry and in our homes speaks volumes about how much we love Christ and reflect Him. Our effectiveness for the Gospel as ministers is wrapped up in our character.
Spurgeon continues on this topic: ”true and genuine piety is necessary as the first indispensible requisite; whatever “call” a man may pretend to have, if he has not been called to holiness, he certainly has not been called to ministry. . . We are to stand equipped with the whole armor of God, ready for feats of valor not expected of others: to us self denial, self-forgetfulness, patience, perseverance, longsuffering, must be everyday virtues, and who is sufficient for these things? We had need live very near to God, if we would approve ourselves in our vocation. . . We have need of very vigorous piety, because our danger is so much greater than that of others.”
Worship leader – how are you doing in this area of character? This is so important to the life of the minister that it supersedes your knowledge of theological issues, your musical abilities, and other gifts the Lord has given you. If we want to be persons that the Lord uses in ministry, our character must be foremost in our daily lives. I challenge you as I challenge myself to strive for purity, holiness and integrity in our personal life, family life and ministry.
(Spurgeon quotes are from Letters to My Students, Henrickson Publishing, chapter on “The Minister’s Self Watch.” A new collection of Spurgeon’s lectures to his ministry students. Highly recommended).