How Do You Know If You’re Called To Lead Worship?

Recently on my missions trip in Romania, I was asked a compelling question by a young female worshiper.

How do you know when you’re called to lead worship?

The particular way God calls us to service is unique for each person.

Everybody’s story is going to be different.

My call to worship ministry was a long evolutionary process combined with a few “suddenly’s” –  inciting incidents when there was a bold shift in the trajectory of my life. The details of that story is another post.

Basically I was a late bloomer. I got an anointing, a download really, for leading worship at a whole new level when I was in my mid-thirties.

In this article I share some thoughts for answering the question – How do you know when you’re called to lead worship?

If you are called to lead worship, you will have:

1. Desire.

When you feel called to lead worship, there will be a a stirring in your heart, an unction. You will have a zeal or earnestness for worship ministry – playing, singing, writing or otherwise serving.

You want to be in the game.

This catalyzed for me when Kent Henry was as a guest worship leader/speaker at our church. It was an eye-opening experience. I saw someone modeling a direction I was sensing. In that season I did not fully understand nor could I have articulated what God was stirring in me. But seeing Kent unlocked something.

For the young worship leader in our story, she sensed that “wow” revelatory moment at SOZO worship.

Desire is released. A dream gets birthed.

2. Ability.

Most dreams would benefit from a healthy reality check early in the process.

If you really want to lead worship, you have to have an aptitude for it. Leading worship by definition is leading a group of people musically in public. Music as public performance requires a proficient level of talent or gifting .

A perspective on this can be learned from the American Idol auditions. Some of those contestants are delusional. They think they have more talent than they truly have. Then they get angry or upset when told the truth – “you’re not that good” or “you’re not right for this show”.

If you get rejected at one level, that does not necessarily mean you do not have any ability. More likely you’re better fitted for another context like a home group, or children or choir. You may not be ready for prime time at Our Cool Church.

Sometimes you need more time for your gifts to develop. Sometimes God needs to work on your character or your skills, or maybe both, to match your calling.

So be genuinely honest with yourself. Do you have the basic musical skills required to lead worship? Can you sing and play in tune, on time and with a pleasant tone?

Your skills can be improved to an acceptable level with enough work. My music and vocal skills are basically average, but that is good enough for most contexts.

You don’t have to be world class, most worship leaders are not. You do, however, have to be good enough for the context you are called to.

If others can do it, you can too.

3. A Vision.

If you feel called to worship leadership, you’re going to have a vision for the way things should be.  You see what others seem to be missing, you see what others seem to be blind to or ignore.

In fact, your “vision” may often cause you to feel frustrated. The gap between “the way things ought to be” and “the way things really are”  will sometimes irritate (and hopefully motivate) you.  This was certainly true for me back-in-the-day.

Nowadays, the vision I have would fit any context really – to become a wholehearted worshiping community.  What that looks like and how we get there is going to be different and context specific. But that is the target, the goal.

Without vision, people perish. (Proverbs 28:18)

4. Confirmation.

Others will affirm and encourage the gifts and calling in you. This should come from those close to you like family and trusted friends. But it should especially come from leaders and from the people you are trying to lead.

If people are following your leadership, you’re probably doing something right. If they’re not following you, there’s a reason. Figure out why and adjust your approach.

Confirmation may happen unexpectedly and from unexpected sources.

I had an early experience leading youth worship. The youth pastor talked to me afterwards. “Rob, I could really sense the Shekinah glory tonight” He had to explain to me what that was, as I had no idea (it’s the manifest presence of God).

The point is, there was an affirmation from a leader in authority about the calling I was sensing.

5. Joy and Peace.

You enjoy leading worship, it gives you joy. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, delighting in the Lord is a very good thing. (Psalm 37:4)

You also have peace of mind. You sense that you are in the right place at the right time, doing what you’re supposed to be doing. In fact, if you were to forsake the call, you would feel miserable. You would not be happy and would not feel the pleasure of the Lord.

When you feel called, somewhere inside you just know that you know. To not pursue the call would feel like disobedience.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

6. Opportunity.

There is a need for what you have to offer.

Doors open. Doors may also close, but then other doors may open.

This has certainly been true in my story. In fact, more than once I felt “called” to lead worship in a particular context and the door slammed shut on that aspiration.

This left me more than a little confused and disappointed. But in His timing, which thankfully is always just right, God put me in service in areas I never imagined possible.

Bloom where planted.

7. Passion.

Leading worship lights your jets. You love it. Nothing else feels as awesome. It is fulfilling.

And you’re willing to pay the price – to be available, to study to show yourself as one approved, to improve your skills and knowledge. You’re willing to go low and serve in humble assignments.

If you’re called to lead worship, you’ll have a passion for it. Passion and faithfulness will see you through the valleys and difficulties. There will be many. Comes with the territory.

So … there’s my thoughts and experiences. [See more in the series Practical Advice For Young Worship Leaders!]

Over to you.

What would you say? How do you know if you’re called to worship ministry? Love to see your thoughts in the comments!

By the way, have you heard about my next missions trip to Sri Lanka? Read about it here. 

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20 thoughts on “How Do You Know If You’re Called To Lead Worship?

  1. Rob, Great post. Your insight into worship leading as a calling reminds us that playing and singing alone is not enough. In fact this statement of yours may be the foundation of discerning if the call is divine…"And you’re willing to pay the price – to be available, to study to show yourself as one approved, to improve your skills and knowledge. You’re willing to go low and serve in humble assignments."

    The act of playing and singing may be a profession but calling is a purpose. Playing and singing is often egoistic but calling is altruistic. Playing and singing is often independent but calling is collaborative. Playing and singing is often just an occupation but calling is a mission.

    Rob, thanks for the reminder!

    My recent post Leading Worship Change…What Are You Reading?

  2. Rob – Great stuff. You've covered so much in such a short article. And Dave's points about ego were spot on, too.

    I recognized each these elements (or the lack of them) as I was just working with a young guy who wants to be a worship leader.

    He felt "called" to a worship leader position that didn't seem like great situation to me and a few others in his life. After a lengthy discussion, he finally came to grips that his "call" was simply based on a desire to lead and an open door to do so. He had opportunity and desire to take this worship leader position. But even though he didn't want to admit it at first, he didn't completely have peace about it. And he recognized he wasn't getting confirmation from the people in his life that he truly trusted.

    If you 1 – 3 and 6 – 7, but not 4 & 5, forget about it.

    I encouraged him to bloom where he's planted (which is the advice every artist/musician hates to hear), taking opportunities to lead and serve as a volunteer. It's not easy road, but our true call often involves some less-than-ideal preparation: http://www.worshipteamcoach.com/blog/2012/09/05/i

    Rob – great stuff.

  3. WOW! This is awesome! Rob, you need to come to Kigali and share these ideas please! We real need this knowledge down here!!!

  4. …I wish that I would have read this last year.

    I was asked if I would consider being a worship leader (my church leaders asked three of us to consider leading worship after our main guy left) and I was SURE I was the guy… After all, I was called! (So I thought and still do) But to my disappointment the leadership did not pick me. I was truly heart broken… It really rocked me. After being at this church for 20 year leading worship for kids and also on the main team for years I was looked over. It was very very hard to deal with and in fact I looked for another church… But honestly it was not from the Lord to leave and I decided to stay. I did step back from ministry and I know that I needed to guard from becoming bitter. However we still continued to atten Sunday’s and recently I started leading worship at Sunday night service , the men’s retreat and in a home bible study!

    Your article is great and I will save it to reread it agin soon… On a closing note, I do love the leadership at my church and I submit to them because it’s biblical but it was one of the hardest things I have ever delt with as a member. My recommendation to fellow believers that feel hurt or looked over (for any reason) is to seek God and look to His word for answers while walking by the spirit.

    Thank you for letting me read this…. more to come! (Lord willing) kevin

    • Kevin, this is exactly what I am going through right now. Several years ago, I was asked by our worship pastor to lead worship for church while he was on vacation. I was soooooo nervous but I did it. Everyone was shocked and said I was definately in my element. I am just mediocre at best but people buy my CD’s and love them. Now fast forward to a new worship leader today. Not once have I even been offered a verse, or a special to sing. I also offered my help when he had strep throat and said If he wanted, I could sing the chorus that was high and he could not reach. He didn’t even reply. Also we have been singing the same twelve songs for over a year and a half, this is super frustrati g, I love my church and love the leadership of our Pastor, I am used in the Ladies ministry some, but feel like I am missing it somehow. I have been tempted to leave and be used elsewhere.
      Someti es I believe we should stay, but I also believe God can move us somewhere else.

      • Hey, Melinda~ I have learned a simple but valuable lesson over the last two years… and that is this; Gods timing is perfect, …He is sovereign and His ways are higher than ours. Trust in Him even when we don’t agree or understand what He is doing. Be still and know that He is God~

  5. Hi Rob… Just want you to know that your Proverbs 28:18 about vision should be Proverbs 29:18 Thanks!

  6. Thanks Rob, I know its what I am meant to do. The vision from G-d is singing for an audience of one but joined by many thousands and millions throughout the stadiums and media outlets of the world.

    That’s all I know. In the meantime I desperately need a job where I am not constantly bullied because of this call, heart and gobby mouth. Yahweh doesn’t want that to change but he want’s the people he sent to love me to change.

    So far, I am only a priority to G-d, am surviving. He tells me there is abundance to come yet. Shall keep looking for the signs.

    http://Www.sarahvex.WordPress.com

    Blessings and thanks xxx

  7. Oh my! My spirit is leaping inside of me! God spoke to me right now about aptitude for worship and Google lead me here. Do you know me? ‘Cos this post’s about me.

  8. I believe am called to worship,i have a zeal,i always feel the burn within me when am about to worship.I enjoy worshiping God more than anything in this world.I cnt pass a day without worshiping my God.When i do it,i feel so much joy,so much peace within,at times i start crying,wow i get so deep with God.Almost everyday i worship my God,besides my beautiful voice,i fit in every tone or song when i sing.Even when am bathing at times i find myself worshiping God.Now i have prayed about it,for God to confirm it for me.He is God,i know He will give me a sign.

  9. This is so good. Thank you for taking the time to write this. All of these things line up but my confidence is lacking. I receive compliments after compliments and encouragement from leaders but I myself doubt my calling … fear of stepping out for many years… is the the battle of walking out what you think you are called to do suppose to be this hard to push through… I experience anxiety and spiritual warefare almost 70% of the time when I lead worship… my passion for worship is deep in my heart but expectations of what I think it needs to look like get in my and negative thoughts start to control me.

  10. I love this article!

    I sing in the choir and several times the director asked me if I could solo a part. Both times, I declined. I play lead guitar in the church band and the worship leader is leaving for another country.

    No one seems to want to step up as worship lead. If no one wants to step up, I am willing to and I would love to do it. The only reason I am hesitant to do it is because the departing worship lead has a great singing voice and would be a tough act to follow.

    However, my wife thinks I am not ready. When she told me this, I was crushed.

    What should I do? Thanks.