A recurring theme during Q&A times on my missions trip to the Balkans concerned character and qualifications for worship team members.
Leading worship is important. The spiritual condition of the team members matters because it is primarily a spiritual role. God is worshiped in spirit (John 4:24).
The “anointing” matters. What you and members of the worship team carry in the spirit is more important than what what you bring musically.
Everyone involved in the worship ministry is a worship leader, and the musical role or technical role is secondary to the spiritual role.
Therefore issues of character really matter.
Here is part 2 on this topic discussed during our worship seminars in Cluj, Romania. See this post for Part 1.
Spiritual & Musical Qualifications Unique For Modern Levites – Singers & Musicians
The Levites, the priests ministering to the Lord, were chosen by God. They were called out and set apart for the ministry.(Numbers 3, 8)
Because of the finished work of Christ (study the book of Hebrews), all believers in Jesus are now priests unto the Lord.
Application: One should not be self-appointed to the worship ministry.
Consider the sons of Zadok. In David’s time they were loyal to him and faithful to the work of the ministry (2 Samuel 15:24). Therefore, they were allowed to come near the presence of God and lead worship.
David stationed Zadok the priest and his fellow priests at the Tabernacle of the Lord at the place of worship in Gibeon, where they ministered before the Lord. (1 Chronicles 16:39).
Later in Israel’s history we see that the “Sons of Zadok” stayed loyal and they alone were allowed to minister unto the Lord. (Ezekial 44:15-16)
Application: Those of us in the Levitical role are to be loyal to God’s purposes and to the leaders He anoints for His purposes.
The Levites loved and cared for God’s house.
Example: Moses Tabernacle
Part of the Levites assignment was to camp around the north, south, east and west of the tabernacle (Numbers 3:15, 23, 29, 35,). Here we see that the Levites lived closer to the tabernacle of Moses than any of the other tribes.
Example: Solomon’s Temple
“These are the ones David put in charge of the music in the house of the Lord after the ark came to rest there. They ministered with music before the tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, until Solomon built the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. They performed their duties according to the regulations laid down for them.” (1 Chronicles 6:31-32)
Application: Today’s “Levites” should demonstrate a special love for God’s house by being:
- Available – serving is a priority, sometimes this is not convenient.
- Dependable – make your “yes” your yes and your “no” your no. (Matthew 5:37)
- Punctual – on time and ready to serve.
- Musically trained in a wide range of applications: Asaph’s music ministry included singing, percussion, orchestration, brass, strings, composition (songwriting), prophesying and teaching – 1 Chronicles 15:19 16:7, 37-42; 25:1; Psalms 73-83
- Musical virtuosity: Excellence in musical technique was a hallmark of the Tabernacle of David. “ Kenaniah, the head Levite, was chosen as the choir leader because of his skill.” 1 Chronicles 15:22
- The musicians in David’s Tabernacle were “instructed in the songs of the Lord” and were “cunning”: 1 Chronicles 16:4, 25:6
- We are exhorted to play unto the Lord “Skillfully” with “cunning”: Psalm 33:3; Psalm 137:5
- Musical Literacy: The Levites did more than just play music, they recorded it by writing it down; perhaps that is why we have the book of Psalms today. (1 Chronicles 16:4)
- In David’s day, the Levites were the only Hebrews who could read or write. A practical application today would be for musicians & singers to develop their music reading, writing, recording skills.
Application – practice your skills, take lessons, continually try to improve. This is the lesson Jesus taught in “the parable of the talents” (Mathew 25:14-20).
5. Able to Teach.
They (the Levitical priests) are to teach my people the difference between the holy and the common and show them how to distinguish (or discern) between the unclean and the clean” Ezekial 44:23
Worship is spiritually formative, it teaches us about God. Worship leaders literally put words in people’s mouths. The worship service has a pedagogical, educational and teaching aspect to it.
Therefore leaders in the worship ministry need to take seriously the teaching dimension of their role.
Application: Be committed to be a student of worship, learn how to teach, and pass it on.
6. Lead the sacrifice of praise.
The writer of Hebrews admonishes Christians to offer the sacrifice of praise (Heb. 13:15), a revelation received earlier by David (Ps. 51:15-16, Ps. 69:30-31)
Drawing near to God and calling others to come was, and is, the role of the Levites then and now.
The Levites served David in his time. Now through the finished work of Christ as our ‘high priest” (see Hebrews 7:11-17) the Levites of today serve Jesus.
Being called to serve the Lord and faith in the restorative work of Christ is what qualifies you to be a modern Levite.
7. Offer spontaneous and prophetic worship.
Often the Bible shows spontaneous response of worship to the presence of the Lord.
Col 3:16 “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17 And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
Here, the leaders role can be similar to the cantor, leading antiphonal, or call and response declarations of God’s glory.
To do this , we have to know the Word of God. As Ray Hughes says, “word of God in – word of God out”
Here we practice Tehillah and Tephillah.
Tehillah is singing scripture, the word of the Lord.
Tephillah is singing our prayers, intercessory prayer sung in the spirit.
Leading worship and ministering to the Lord are taken very seriously in the Bible. I wonder how an awareness of this perspective would change the way many of us approach our role in worship ministry. Would we set the bar higher?