The character of John the Baptist has always intrigued me. Maybe it’s his eccentric personality of wearing camel skins, eating locusts dipped in honey, or yelling at people to “REPENT!” But either way, as a worship leader, there are many examples from his life that I try to apply to my life and ministry. I want to highlight three of them. If you are a worship leader, or play an instrument or sing in a worship band, or choir (which I still consider that leading worship even if you aren’t the “leader”), hopefully this will encourage and challenge you as you serve Christ and His church.
1. He was created to be a worshiper of Jesus. In the book of Luke, we are told the story that when John’s mother, Elizabeth was six months pregnant with him and when her cousin, Mary found out that she was pregnant with Jesus, Mary went to share the news with her. When Mary arrived, Luke 1:44 says that John (still in Elizabeth’s womb) “leaped for joy.” Even in the womb, John worshiped Jesus, which reminds me that he was specifically designed to be a worshiper of Christ—and so was I. Being a worship leader begins with us fulfilling our first purpose and that is to personally worship Jesus before we begin to lead others to do the same.
2. He prepared the way for the Lord. Luke 3:4 tells us that John fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy that he will be “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” It is our job to prepare the way of the Lord. How do we do that? The first way is to take time to prepare our worship services to be the best that they can be. Preaching pastors spend hours every week to prepare for their sermons. They spend this time organizing the flow of the sermon, memorizing and praying through the sermon as well as praying that the sermon will impact the hearts of the congregation and that it would impact his own heart as well. Worship leaders should do the same. We should put significant time and effort into preparing the flow of our set lists, practicing and memorizing the chords and lyrics, thinking through what we will say, pray and what Scriptures we will quote, praying through each song, and praying for the congregation. All of this serves to “prepare the way of the Lord” during our Sunday worship gatherings. The second way to “prepare the way of the Lord” is to get out of the way, which leads me to the third lesson.
3. He made himself nothing in order to make Jesus everything. In what little pieces of John’s life and ministry that we are shown in Scripture, there are many ways that this proves true of John’s character. My favorite way is when he said in John 3:30 that Jesus “must increase, but I must decrease.” See, John had a thriving ministry and now Jesus was coming on the scene to fulfill his mission on earth. John knew that the time had come to get out of the way and point people to Jesus. That is our entire purpose as worship leaders: to GET OUT OF THE WAY AND POINT PEOPLE TO JESUS. Worship leading is not about showing off your musicianship, your great voice, or your biblical knowledge. It’s not about people seeing or praising you. Our job, like John’s, is to make ourselves nothing and to make Jesus everything.