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Poisons of the Praise and Worship Leader

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Poisons of the Praise and Worship Leader

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            of the Praise and Worship Leader:

                                 Ps Darin Browne
                         ©Darin Browne, http://praiseandworshipleader.net 2010, All Rights Reserved

No part of this publication may be reproduced by any means, both physical and electronic, without the permission of the author.
              Poisons of the Praise and Worship Leader

                     These are the Deadly Poisons that we will be dealing
                                     with in this book...


Introduction to Poisons
The Biblical Context
  1. Pride
  2. Position
  3. Professional Rivalry
  4. Purity
  5. Performance
  6. Promotion
  7. Professionalism
  8. Perfectionism

Present Yourselves as Living Sacrifices

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                    Introduction to Poisons

Becoming a praise and worship leader is one of the most exciting and rewarding
roles in the modern church, but it is not without its poisons, things that can creep in
and take your life, both personally and in your ministry. In fact, the modern church
has seen many spectacular falls from grace by worship leaders, as well as by
preachers and pastors in the church. The reason for this lies perhaps in the fact that
it is such a public and upfront ministry.

Worship leading is also a ministry that attracts its own brand of poisons, many of
which are subtle, slow acting and ultimately deadly for the worship leader, the team,
their lives and the church.

There are ways that you can insulate yourself from the poisons, temptations and
difficulties which can beset you as a worship leader. There are antidotes, and there
are vaccines, and that is what this book is all about.

I've been leading worship in churches and large public gatherings for over 20 years,
and so I figure that this qualifies me to talk about this subject to some degree. I've
experienced all the temptations, difficulties and hard times that worship leaders can
face as well as some great and wonderful moves of God. That's why I am writing
this book: So that other worship leaders can avoid some of the pitfalls that have
plagued so many worship leaders throughout the years.

Sure, I have not experienced a public fall from grace like many other Christian
musicians, but I am not arrogant enough to suggest that the temptations do not
come my way, the difficulties are easy to face, or that I'm above or greater than any
other worship leader or Christian performer in the world today! In fact, “There but for
the grace of God go I” or any other worship leader who takes the time to examine
their life honestly, calling out to the Lord for him to search their heart. (Psalm

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So as I run through these areas that the Lord is shown to me, please keep an open
mind and examine your heart, because I would imagine that you are no different to
myself or any other worship leader who is in the public spotlight. These are
difficulties that we all face and “fore warned is fore armed” when it comes to
conquering them.

As you examine your heart, remember that you can only achieve real victory in your
life as you stay close to the Holy Spirit and live a life of devotion to the Lord. Trying
to overcome these poisons by yourself will most often end in disaster! So as you
approach this book I strongly urge you to examine your heart and cry out to the Holy
Spirit for Him to give you the power to overcome. Truly, “The one who is in us is
greater than the one who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

So, fellow worship leaders, with an open and humble heart let’s approach these
poisons, examine them closely and make sure that we do not start sipping any of
these, or even have them lying around the house within easy access to us! They
may look attractive, but they are deadly to all that you truly want in your life!

Your ministry, your life, your relationships and your walk with God will be richer for
the time you invest into this book. It may not seem as practical as some of the
others books in the suite,

         ... but it might just save your life one day!

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                           The Biblical Context

As we come to examine the poisons of the praise and
worship leader, it is important that we put all of these
questions into some biblical context. I believe that the
Bible should be central to everything we examine,
especially with regards to our own attitudes and
difficulties, and so I want to direct you to a passage
which really sets up many of the potential poisons I'm
about to write about.

2 Chronicles 29

First of all, read the entire passage and gain some sort of context for what is
happening, and what the King and the priests are endeavouring to do.

This passage deals with King Hezekiah's purification of the Temple and the
reintroduction of proper worship of the Lord to the nation of Israel. It lays out a
blueprint that we need to work through to understand how we can bring pure and
unadulterated worship into the church, and this has direct parallels to our tasks as
worship leaders: Bringing true and unadulterated worship into our churches as we
lead our people.

The story begins in the previous chapter, chapter 28, where we see evil king and
Ahaz pursuing idolatry and pursuing his own prideful direction.

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2 Chronicles 28:23-27

King Ahaz had suffered defeat to the King of Assyria, and so in his pride he decided
to take things into his own hands and began to offer sacrifices to the gods of
Damascus. In fact, in verse 24, we read that he shut the doors of the Lord's Temple
and set up altars at every street corner in Jerusalem, and creates high places to burn
sacrifices to other gods. Essentially, King Ahaz rejected the Lord, and plunged the
nation into idolatry!

2 Chronicles 29
King Ahaz had a son whose name was Hezekiah, and he was only 25 years old
when he became king. In verse 3 we read that he decided to repair the temple and
re-establish true worship in Israel. He then began to work through a hierarchy of
things that needed to happen before the song of the Lord could begin, and I believe
this is a blueprint for us to examine our lives as worship leaders, so that the song of
the Lord can begin in our churches as we lead the people in worship.

   1. The Temple had to be cleansed (2 Chronicles 29:15-17)

 In verses five and six, Hezekiah says to the Levites that they must consecrate
themselves and consecrate the Temple because those who had gone before were
unfaithful and did evil in the eyes of the Lord. In verse 15 they begin to do this,
consecrating not only themselves but going through a number of steps to consecrate
the Lord's Temple. It is interesting to note that this was not a quick process, and that
it actually took 15 days to consecrate the Temple.

   2. The Holy Vessels Returned (2 Chronicles 29:18-19)

The articles of worship which King Ahaz had removed were now restored to their
rightful place in the Temple. This draws parallels in our own life and we need to

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restore the holy vessels of prayer, Bible study and obedience to their rightful place in
our lives.

   3. The Sin Offering is Made (2 Chronicles 29:2026)

Offerings were made in these verses for the sin of the people, and also for the sin of
the priests. The cross is our sin offering ( Hebrews 9:14) and we need to come to
the cross and receive, by God's grace, forgiveness for our sins.

It is interesting that it is at this point, in verse 25, that the Levites who were
musicians make their long-awaited appearance. They are stationed in the way that
is prescribed earlier by David, Gad and Nathan, ready to sing and make music. In
the Temple, praise and worship was an integral part of the overall worship of the
Lord, but the worship leaders needed to be sin free to operate properly in their field.

   4. The Burnt Offering is Made (2 Chronicles 29:27)
When King Hezekiah gave the order, the burnt offering was sacrificed on the altar
and, according to Scripture, as the offering began singing to the Lord also began
accompany by trumpets and the instruments King David had established. The
singing and music continued until all of the burnt offering was completed.

This was the song of the Lord, which drew the people in and allowed them to bring
sacrifices and thank offerings to the Temple, as an act of worship. This is our
calling, this is our passion, this is our destiny!

So as I begin to track through these poisons in more detail, let us keep this biblical
framework around us, that we might further understand how we as worship leaders
can, in purity and power, bring the song of the Lord to our people, thereby leading
them into a deeper worship experience.

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                                      Poison 1: Pride

                  Pride has been described as the original sin, the mother of all the
others and it is not hard to see why. It convinces us that we are superior, of more
importance and more worthy than others, and therefore, in that context, we can be
allowed to do, say and think things that others cannot.

Many people will tell you that the devil, Lucifer, was a worship leader in heaven
before his fall and that pride was the original sin he entertained, thinking that he
could set himself up in competition to God. (Isaiah 14:11-16) Scripture does not
reveal too many details of the situation, but if you look at the course of human history
then the statement rings true, especially for those of us who are worship leaders.

Let's face it, playing an instrument, singing well and worship leading are all skills
which most people either fail to possess, or possess to a lesser degree than we do.
Many other skills used in the church are possessed by people to some extent, but
music and singing stand alone as being skills or talents that the common man does
not possess, and that many of them highly exalt because they do not have it

Great preaching can also be a source of pride, but almost everyone can talk. Many
people can teach also, so for the average person in the church, while they may
admire and be blessed by the skill, it is not as if they cannot at least attempt to
emulate it.

However, playing an instrument or singing is far beyond what the average person
can do, and this lends itself towards us having a special feeling of pride unlike
anyone else in the church.

Having such a clearly identifiable and upfront skill can easily fill worship leaders,
singers and musicians with an evil sense of pride. I am not referring here to the

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sense of pride we have in a job well done (which is a good sense), I am referring to
the pride that comes before a fall (Proverbs 11:2), the one that the Lord hates
(Psalm 18:27), the one that gives you a false sense of superiority. Couple this with
the fact that we know that, if we use certain techniques or tips, most often we will see
a certain reaction from an audience, and this fuels the pride in our lives, fooling us
into thinking that we are more than servants, and we have some greater level of skill
and purpose.

Like King Ahaz, we feel that we can set up a series of idols to replace true worship,
and in most cases the idle in question is ourselves!

As a travelling Christian singer, I see this all the time of the various churches in
which I minister. Having recorded a number of albums, and having a huge array of
songs that I've written to use, many of which the Lord uses powerfully in people's
lives, I often experience people coming up to me afterwards to say, “You're a great
singer”, or “I love your songs”, or “You are really awesome”. I have to continually
condition myself to say, “Thank you”, but not to let this build the sense of pride in my
life. Of far greater meaning for me is the person who comes up to me afterwards
and says, “Your song really spoke to me”. These are the people I know who have
been touched by the Holy Spirit, and not by the spectacle I have just presented. It is
His glory, not mine, because without Him I could sing and play well, yet lives would
not be changed.

This pride can also be added to by well-meaning people who treat you wonderfully,
but in a way that is different or superior to others. I recognize that they are
honouring me, and I bless them for this, however I must not let this feed my sense of
pride, fooling me into thinking that I am superior in any way to any other believer. I
continually tell myself, you're not better than anyone else, you just have different
gifts, but you must serve the same Lord through the power of the same Spirit with
the same humility.

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      The Antidote For the Poison of Pride

              The best way to combat pride is to keep the right perspective on your
              life. To do this, you need to fill your heart with Scripture while you are
              continually be in prayer and in humble supplication before the Lord,
              thereby keeping your attitude pure and pride-less. I have memorized,
              and often recall, Mark 1045, when Jesus explains that even the Son
of Man came to serve and not to be served, and this is a great antidote to poison of

If you keep the perspective of a servant, then whatever you do you're doing unto the
Lord, and not for your own importance. This means that, if anyone honours you and
inadvertently feeds your pride, you simply need to remember that you are a servant,
and a servant is devoid of all rights, save the right of serving.

In the Western world, we constantly hear people talking about rights. We have
human rights, land rights, gay and lesbian rights, women's rights and a whole host of
other rights, where people are pushing for acceptance and honour where there has
previously been prejudice. While I am not against the call for rights, I believe that as
a Christian and a servant, you really only have one right: to serve the Lord!

As a servant, you do not have the right to push your own desires, to become a lord
over others or persecute them, or to demand your own way in any given
circumstance. No, your right as a servant is to serve, regardless of what is
happening, who you are serving with, who you are serving and how comfortable the
situation makes you feel!

The antidote for pride is a humble, serving spirit, and if we apply this antidote as
worship leaders I believe we will see great reward and will begin to see a new, fresh
power in our worship leading.

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It will also change the attitude with which we view our fellow servants on the music
team, and give us a newfound patience and love for them, and a desire to see them
achieve their highest potential in worship.

Getting this attitude right, and minimizing the effect that pride has on our lives, is
probably the biggest step towards deeper and greater worship. As the original sin,
all the other seems in some way stem from this one, so if we get this right we will be
a long way towards avoiding the poisons that follow. However, I would like to
examine each of these poisons in more detail, but as you read on, please don't
forget that a humble serving spirit will counteract many, if not all of the deadly
poisons that we will be looking at. Let the Holy Spirit deal with pride in your life, and
you will a see huge surge in power and anointing in your worship leading!

The interesting thing about this particular poison is that, the more success you have,
the greater your pride can become. That is why, as your ministry moves from
success to success, or your church grows and worships more deeply, you must be
alert to the pitfall of pride, lest it scuttle the advances the Holy Spirit has made in
your life and in your church’s worship life.

Make sure you never feel like you have conquered this poison, because the greater
your ministry gets, the stronger the poison will be. You have to walk in humility, both
when you are starting and as you go on to greater heights in your worship ministry.

As I once heard a comedian say...

They gave me a medal for humility...

       ... but they took it off me because I wore it!

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                                    Poison 2: Position

                     The position of a worship leader, or indeed any part of the
                     worship team, is one that many people aspire to. That makes this
position a potential source of a poison in your life, and one you must deal with
quickly so that it will not grow into a huge source of pride.

Having a position of leadership means power and, as the old saying goes, “absolute
power corrupts absolutely!”

I have been in churches where, when the position of worship leader has come up,
there has been nothing short of a war between potential candidates to obtain that
position! It feels a bit like being in the corporate world, where it is “dog eats dog” on
the corporate ladder, when the last man standing will gain the position, regardless of
his abilities or his genuineness of heart. Brothers and sisters, this must not be in the

If you have been appointed to the position of worship leader, then you need to
recognize that it is a position of responsibility and hard work, not a means of making
others do your bidding. As Jesus pointed out in Mark 10:45, our destiny as leaders
is to serve, not to be served. Although the position may have its benefits, we need to
focus on what is right and proper.

Being a worship leader means that we are the ones who make the critical decisions
in regards to worship. We very often choose the songs, the music style and who is
on the worship team for that week. We choose to elevate or to demote our team
members, and we set the direction that worship will take. Many of us are very ready
to make these decisions, and have very clear and firm ideas as to how these things
should be done. But do we recognize that with great power comes great

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If you are a worship leader, you will need to make decisions, some of which may not
be easy. But you must also bear responsibility for the consequences of those
decisions, and not passed the buck to other members of your team. As Pres.
Truman said, “the buck stops here”, and this is absolutely true for worship leaders.

The position of worship leader is a position of responsibility, not just of decision-
making, so we need to face this position with a great sense of humility, knowing that
without the Holy Spirit there is no chance that I worship leading will be a success!

In the church, as in any other organization, there are positions and responsibilities
and we as worship leaders have been fortunate enough to be appointed to one of
those key positions. This means that, in the eyes of both out team members and
also our congregation, that we are worthy of such an honour, but we must not let this
honour go to our heads!

Over many years of worship leading, as I've travelled around the world speaking with
and observing worship leaders, in small churches, medium-size churches and large
churches, many worship leaders struggle with the poison of abuse of position. This
is easily detected by their attitude towards their peers, and how they treat others
both on and off their teams. I'm immediately wary if I meet a worship leader who
speaks, and everybody around him snaps to attention! Very often, this worship
leader has used the position to gain control over other people, that they made do his
or her bidding, and they teach their team members that serving them is the
equivalent of obeying the Lord himself! There's a lot of pride, and very little humility
and these leaders, and sometimes this attitude has come down from the pastors!

Let me make this clear: there is nothing wrong with asking team members to do
things to help. Whether pitfall becomes a pitfall is in the attitude that is behind the

As a worship leader I have always made it my practice to try and serve with a spirit
of humility, and to serve as a servant would, washing the feet of my fellow team
members rather than ordering them around. I have found that, if I treat them with

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love and respect, that I gained huge loyalty and a better result all round because
they feel encouraged by their leader, rather than persecuted. The end result is that
my loyal team members will do anything for me, often without my even asking, to
bless and care for myself and my family. These actions by my team members are
fuelled not by a sense of dread and persecution, but by a genuine sense of loyalty
and respect the likes of which overbearing worship leaders cannot obtain if they
concentrate on the position and all its finery!

If something is not up to scratch in the worship, if it goes too long of fails to engage
hearts, then I consider myself responsible, even if I was not even the one leading!
Whether i am on the morning or not, the buck stops with the leader, and I need to
find the solution and bear the responsibility.

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   The Antidote For the Poison of Position

              So the antidote to poison of position is the humble serving heart of the
              leader. Never ask your team members to do something that you
              would not do yourself, and never publicly call them down in front of
              other members of the team, no matter their behaviour or their attitude.
              You must never use your position to your own ends, but use it to
              promote a spirit of unity and blessing within your team, and a sense of
              worship throughout your team and your congregation.

The reality of the position of Worship Leader is that it is a lot of hard work! I
concentrate on this aspect, rather than the exalted position, because it help to be an
antidote to the poison. So being the worship leader means late nights, early Sunday
starts, not sitting with my wife during part of the service and being accountable for
every mistake! It means petrol to get to and from practice, long hours being patient
with those who don’t quite get it, and extra time and effort spent in preparing for and
leading the worship.

The real payoff is seeing people worshipping deeply, and knowing the Lord has used
little old me to get there. It is humbling to think that He would choose me for this, but
I am glad He did! It makes all the hard work worth it, and this attitude helps to keep
my heart mumble before the Lord, and immune from the poison of position!

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                 Poison 3: Professional Rivalry

                          Professional rivalry is a curse in the Christian church, and it is
                          an extension of the pride poison we talked about earlier.
                          Professional rivalry occurs when a musician or singer becomes
envious of another musician or singer because of their ability, or their perceived
success, either of which is greater than the person’s own ability or success. If we
call it what it really is, professional rivalry is simply jealousy, and it has no place in
Christian ministry.

As a musician and singer, I will admit that it is hard to see another ministry gain the
success and adulation I desire, especially if it is at my expense! It is tempting to look
at them and say, “How come they have success that I haven't got, Lord? Why did
you raise them up instead of me?” The obvious extension is to say, “I play better
than them, I sing better than them, my songs are more powerful than theirs, how
come they got success and I didn't?” Or you might say, “I've tried really hard to learn
this instrument well, how come they find it so easy to play it and I don't?” Or, “Lord,
why is his voice so much nicer than mine?”

Years ago I stopped going to Christian festivals because the professional rivalry
absolutely disgusted me. I saw all of these Christian musicians and singers with
thinly painted masks of niceties wishing one another well on the surface, while
secretly hoping that they would fall and be shot down in a screaming heap! At these
festivals, some Christian musicians refused to allow others to use their amps or even
leads, just to try and make it more difficult for the next person coming on. In this way
many of them tried to elevate themselves by pushing their peers down. I found this
attitude so abhorrent that I stopped going to festivals and devoted myself to pursuing
what I felt the Lord and ask me to do in my own church, and in the places where the
Lord open the opportunity for me to play.

I say again, professional rivalry has no place in Christian ministry, especially in the
worship. If you are prideful, envious and jealous of a fellow team member, then this
destroys the unity within the team, and the Lord cannot bestow blessing upon the
ministry in the same way (Psalm 133).
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            The Antidote For the Poison of
                     Professional Rivalry
                 The antidote to this destructive poison is a simple one: keep
                 humble, keep encouraging others and elevate the other person. In
                 fact, if you are smart you will stick close to the other guy so that you
                 can learn from him and bounce off him when you are ministry.

As a worship leader, it is common to have superior musicians and singers to
yourself, but that does not mean you are not the worship leader. Rather than trying
to cut your fellow singer or musician down, why not promote their ministry and ability
as part of your team’s worship, thereby blessing the other person and also blessing
your congregation with their skill.

When I lead worship in my home church, I make sure that I do not become the lead
singer of every song. If, for example, we are doing five songs, I will most often only
actually lead one or at most two of those songs. Instead, I encourage others in my
worship team to take the lead for various songs, which not only gives the listener's
variety but also encourages the gift of potential in the other singers.

If they are better than me at singing, I will delight in their success and encourage it,
because I know as a leader that when someone on the team wins, the whole team
wins. This promotes a spirit of unity within the team, and encourages those who are
less experienced to step out by faith and try things, knowing that their success will be
rejoiced over by other members in the team. It also brings in a sense of humility,
servant hood and most often a wonderful move of the Holy Spirit in worship.

After all, isn't this what we actually want: to see the Holy Spirit move on people's
lives in our worship?

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Professional rivalry has no place in the praise and worship team, and must be dealt
with quickly and effectively lest it destroy the unity that you are trying to achieve. As
a leader, if you keep a humble and gentle spirit and delight in promoting others
ahead of yourself, then I believe you will see your ministry raised also to reach its full

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Poison 4: Purity- Or Rather, the Lack of It!

                   Of the many poisons faced by the praise and worship leader, this
                   surely is one of the most difficult to deal with, and one with the most
                   far reaching and destructive results! Perhaps the reason for this is
the fact that purity in your life is a very private and personal matter, and
consequently one which is not dealt with publicly until it has become a huge monster!
One only has to witness the spectacular fall from grace of many Christian musicians
and pastors to realize that purity is a core issue for every leader in the church, and
especially the worship leader, who has such a public existence.

The bottom line is, you can cover it for a long time, but be sure your sin will find you
out (Numbers 32:23)! It is the little foxes which destroy the vine (Song of Songs
2:15) and very often it's the small sins and the hidden sins that creep into your life,
destroying your purity before the Lord and ruining your ministry ultimately.

In this discussion I will centre on the issues of purity which I as a worship leader and
touring Christian musician, struggle with on a regular basis. I want to be very open
and honest, but the impurity poisons are the ones that are always there, lurking in
the background; Ones that we should be wary of thinking we have conquered!

                                    Sexual Sin

I will be lying, and probably not a man, if I said that I did not struggle with this area of
life. I've been married for 25 years, and have never committed adultery, yet I openly
and honestly declare that the temptations are constantly out there, especially in the
concentrated environment of the worship team.

When you work so hard together, devote evenings to practice, turn up early for
church services, stand so close to members of the opposite sex, you have to
constantly be on guard lest the relationship develop that is unhealthy, ungodly and a
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potential poisonous for your ministry. Music is a very emotional environment, and so
guys and girls together with lots of emotion can spell temptation very quickly!

This is especially true for those of us who travel and minister. I find it always a great
idea to travel in a team. The great part about travelling with someone like Bill
Newman is that this reduces any attack on your purity in the sexual area, because
you are in close proximity to a holy team member on a daily basis.

That being said, there are fresh, subtle and powerful attacks on our sexual purity in
this new millennium. We need to guard our hearts and minds, and present our
bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to the Lord (Romans 12:1-2) more than
ever before.

The Internet, and in particular porn sites, are one of the greatest attacks on the moral
purity of Christian men that we have ever seen. The thing about these is that, unlike
previous efforts at adultery, our purity can be attacked behind closed doors, where
no one can see and where our public persona does not take any hits. The poison of
impurity has never been so easy for worship leaders to obtain, and there is a much
reduced risk compared to leaving home or a hotel to find a girlfriend or a prostitute!
(Please excuse me being so open, but someone needs to hear this, I’m sure)

I have also seen, more commonly than one would want to imagine, the worship
leader having an inappropriate relationship with someone on the worship team. This
may not always be quite sexual, but it has varying degrees leading up to the
inappropriate relationship.

As worship leaders we need to be on our guard against sexual impurity, even
starting at what seems to be the most innocent level, with flirtatious glances, speech,
touch and hugs. Long hours rehearsing together, staying back later after rehearsal
and saying suggestive things to one another is where this poison often begins its
work and it must be avoided at all costs.

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Imaging that you have had a fight with your wife, you turn up for rehearsal and there
is this great looking girl, starry eyed, looking at you and saying how wonderful you
are, how talented you are and what a great guy you are. See how easy it is to stray?

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The Antidote For the Poison of Impurity

               The antidote to this poison is laid out in Romans 12:1-2. We must not
               conform any longer to the pattern of this world, as expressed in
               movies, TV series, books and the Internet, but we must be
               transformed by the renewing of our minds. However mind renewed?
               It is renewed by filling it with things that promote purity and not pride,
               lust and self satisfaction.

We need to fill our minds with the word of God, and the antidote to this poison is to
spend long hours in prayer, and study of the word, so that we might set our minds on
things above are not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2).

Let's be honest here: all of us have been tempted and some of us have sinned in this
area! Do not gloss over it! Do not sweep it under the carpet, but deal with it and
deal with it quickly, lest your ministry and your life be destroyed! We know that if we
confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us and to purify us (1 John 1:9), so
we need to embrace this antidote, examine our hearts and remove this poison by the
power of the Holy Spirit.

On a practical level, if there is someone within your music team that you attempted
to taste the poison of impurity with, then you have to deal with this also. It may not
even be their fault and they may not be aware that they having this effect on you, so
dismissing them from the music team is not a fair and viable option. If you're going
to be fair perhaps you should dismiss yourself first, seeing as the buck stops with

What you need to do, however, is limited the amount of temptation that this person
brings to you. You do this by minimizing the time spent alone with them, minimizing
the touch and the way in which you touch them (especially in the area of hugging,
which is very common amongst Christians these days) and especially, control the
way you speak to them. Your speech must be totally pure as must be your heart, so

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be very careful about what you say, making sure that it is not suggestive or flirtatious
in any way.

The next part of the antidote is to make sure that your home life is wonderful. Make
sure that you honour your wife or husband, and make sure that you have a healthy
life together, as friends and as lovers. If you cherish your spouse and your
relationship with them, then you will be much less tempted to seek sex in the arms of

Finally, if you struggle to bring control to impure thoughts, seek out someone you
respect and love, who is of the same sex as you, and share your struggle with them.
This is best to be a pastor or an elder in the church. Be honest and open and share
your struggle with them, and asked them if you can be accountable to them for your
speech, actions and thoughts.

The antidote to the poison of impurity is to fill your mind with the things of God, and
be accountable to a man or woman of God in an honest, humble way.

 Trust me, if you do not get this right, it will come back to haunt you at some point,
 and it has the power to ruin your family, your ministry, your church and your entire
 life. I have seen it do this with many of my friends, and I know this is a subtle and
                      powerful poison, so inoculate yourself now!

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                    Poison 5: Performance

                   The poison of performance is often discussed between worship
                   team members. In this book, I am endeavouring to treat this area
                   frankly and honestly, so I will not do the disservice of glossing over
this subject in a semi-spiritual examination. I believe it is too simplistic to simply say,
“We should not perform, we should minister”, because the reality is that we all
perform, and the avoidance of this poison’s venom lies in recognizing where
performance ceases and ministry begins, rather than shovelling it under the spiritual

The simple fact is that we all perform. The difference between a great preacher and
an average preacher is very often not the content, but their method of delivery, i.e.
their performance! To say that we as worship leaders, musicians and singers do not
perform it incorrect, because those of us who are smart will train and learn how to
perform at our best 100% of the time. The poisonous nature of performance does
not lie in the fact that we perform, it lies in the attitude behind our performance, and
the motivation that we are operating under.

I recognizing in my own ministry that fact that I perform and do it reasonably well.
The way I play guitar, the way I approached the microphone, the expressions on my
face, the actions of my hands and my movement across the stage are all part of an
overall performance. One of the most powerful performances that I'm able to deliver
in our crusades is to take a cordless microphone, stepped down off the stage and
begin to walk through the crowd shaking hands, touching people on the shoulders
and looking into their eyes as I sing the song. This powerful performance has
increased the effect of the song on people's hearts, and has often moved my
listeners to tears because I am 3 feet from their nose staring into their eyes as I sing
the words! This is performance. It is not wrong, and it is not evil, and it is not the
poison that I'm talking about, but it is nonetheless performance.

When we stand to minister in worship leading, regardless of whether we are singing,
leading or playing an instrument, we will be performing to a greater or lesser degree.

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Even trying to not perform, such as the bass player who sits there expressionless
while he coolly plays his bass guitar, is in itself a performance!

The poisonous performance comes about when we elevate the performance above
our ministry to the hearts of people and to the Lord. It occurs when we place too
great an emphasis on our expressions, the notes we play, the way we sing and
deliver the material, rather than on the attitude of the heart as we minister. As I
perform on stage, I am always careful to guard my attitude, to make sure that I am
really, in my heart, ministering to the Lord rather than trying to elevate myself in the
eyes of my listeners.

This, after all, is the difference between ministering in church and ministering in the
world. If you are playing music and singing in the world, perhaps in a bar or at a
dance, then you may be doing this to bring people joy, but you're also doing it to
elevate and promote yourself (see the next chapter).

In worship seminars, I actually teach people how to perform more effectively. For
example, I teach microphone technique to singers, not only improve the sound and
level of the singing in the mix, but also to help them to put heart and soul into what
they are doing from a performance standpoint. I am not teaching them to sin! I'm
teaching them to do what they are doing with excellence, but I also teach them to
keep a right attitude behind their performance.

As you learn and grow in your craft, as a singer, leader or musician, your
performance level will increase with your experience and with the things that you
learn. In fact, the “Worship in a Nutshell” series teaches a number of tips and
techniques that can improve your worship leading ability. These are performance
techniques, but they do not take the place of a humble, servant heart, which if it
great performance can lead to amazing moves of the Holy Spirit during worship.

A great performance includes hundreds of small techniques that we learned as
singers and musicians, and which we know work in affecting the attitude of our
listeners and the atmosphere of our worship. Once you learn these techniques, and

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they become part of what you do, they then become automatic so that you do them
without even thinking about them. This is the ideal situation, because it keeps your
mind and your heart totally open to true and deep worship of the Lord, to spite the
fact that you are using a number of performance techniques on autopilot.

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            The Antidote For the Poison of

               The antidote to the poison of performance is not to reject
               performance, but to learn it, embrace it and make it a part of what you
               are doing, without the self-promoting, “look at me” attitude. If you
               embrace these things, and they become automatic as the way in
which you perform/minister, then your heart will be fully open to worship the Lord
during the service, and you will be in a powerful position in deed as you leave the

The antidote to the pitfall performance is to embrace good performance techniques,
commit them to memory, and then forget about them concentrating on the Lord
rather than on your techniques. That way your heart is fully available and fully open
to worship, and you can lose yourself in worship knowing that the performance side
of things will take care of itself.

And, if you do this successfully, you will find lots of those techniques and
performance ideas you learned and put on autopilot will come out during your
worship, making the end result both Holy Spirit led and also a great performance!

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                Poison 6: Promotion of Self

                  Self-promotion is one of the curses of Christian ministry and there is
                  hardly a Christian singer or musician, or indeed a preacher, who
                  has not had to deal with this most destructive of poisons!

You only need to attend a Christian music conference, worship seminar, all pastors
conference to see the poisonous toxin of self-promotion in action. It seems that
every musician, every singer and every preacher is doing whatever they can to
“network”, or self promote, to give themselves the opportunities to increase their
level of exposure for the Christian community, and thus the then Ministry promoted.

Now please, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong in showing what you are
about to others. But when this becomes your main obsession, then the poison is
eating away at your life and in some cases it becomes embarrassing, because
everyone around you can see the poison at work, but you are blinded to it (that’s part
of the toxic effect of the poison!).

The difficulty with this self-promotion is that it is usually well hidden under what
seems to be a serving spirit, so it is often difficult to ascertain whether the person is
promoting themselves or truly has a servant's heart.

Even within the worship team, most team members of any ability take every
opportunity they can to elevate themselves, sometimes at the expense of others.
One of the clearest examples of this occurs when musicians overplay, that is they fill
up every available space with notes, leaving no room for anybody else. This may
seem minor, but underneath there lies a spirit of self-promotion that each person
has, which must be dealt with less we fall under the spell of this poison.

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         The Antidote For the Poison of Self

                The antidote to self-promotion is, once again, a servant's heart. This
                is seen when we come with the attitude that says we will do anything,
                sing any song, play whatever is required, and cut out whatever is
                necessary to serve the ultimate aim of the worship service. In fact,
the cutting out of songs is one of the best indications that the antidote to self-
promotion is alive and well.

Most worship leaders and their teams want to play the maximum number of songs
every Sunday, and this leads to a situation where the worship can go on for 40, 50,
60 minutes and beyond, making the praise and worship service and endurance test
rather than a time of blessing and worship! Many leaders are the last ones to
volunteer to shave time off their segment, secretly thinking that the pastor should not
be so long-winded, or the communion should not become a second sermon, or that
the offering should be just got out of the way so we can get on with the serious work
of worship leading.

In my time as a worship leader for Bill Newman Ministries, I have always been the
first to cut back my program, before anybody else. If time is tight, if Bill feels the
need to preach for longer, I will always volunteer to cut one or more songs off my
part of the program. This is a clear indication to him that I'm not promoting myself,
but have his Ministry and the direction of the Lord as my central aim.

The antidote to self-promotion is to be a servant of the pastor and be ready to cut
back what we are doing to serve the greater end. Be the first to cut back what you're
doing, and you will find that the Lord will promote you, and you would not have to
promote yourself! Remember, unless the Lord builds the house, you labour in vain!
(Psalm 127:1)

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                     Poison 7: Professionalism

                 Professionalism is another poison that is closely aligned with pride,
                 and it goes something like this...

I am a professional worship leader (or singer or musician) and therefore, to do the
job properly, I demand certain conditions that will help me be at my best.

I have seen worship leaders attack and criticize team members, sound technicians
and event organizers, behaving in a very ungodly fashion because they are so
“professional”. And yes, I hate to say it but, it very often is the PAID musicians who
think like this, but it can be the volunteers as well.

This attitude is completely the opposite of the one Christ had. Jesus did not call off
the Sermon on the Mount because it was too hot, or because he was too hungry, or
because he didn't have adequate PA! It seems that in the world of music,
professionalism demands a level of treatment that is not true in, for example, sport.

                       Professionalism in Sport

A professional sportsman, let's say a footballer, will play the game regardless of the
conditions they face. An amateur sportsman and his team may call off the football
match if it is too hot, or if there is a snow on the ground, or if the field is extremely
muddy. If they have a cold, if they have a niggling injury or whatever the case may
be, the amateur sportsman will pull out if conditions are not suitable to his liking. Not
so the professional!

The professional sportsman, because they are professional and being paid for it, will
go on and play regardless of the conditions or the size of the crowd. They play

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football in the snow, in the heat, and even when the pitch is below standard, risking
serious injury because they are professionals and that's what professional are
supposed to do! Many play through painful injuries not because they want to, but
because the greater good of the team is there, and because they are professionals.

                       Professionalism in Music

How is it that in the world of music we have turned the situation around? How is it
that professionals demand all the conditions to be right for them in order to go on,
when a true professional soldiers on regardless of the team they have, regardless of
the ability for singers and musicians, regardless of the number of people in the
crowd, etc. This is the poisonous side of professionalism, when we begin to make
demands because we are who we are, and because we're as good as we are. So,
we do not soldier on with the right attitude if the team is less than we expected, or
the crowd is worse than we were hoping for.

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            The Antidote For the Poison of

               The antidote to the poison of professionalism is once again a serving
               heart, which says to the Lord regardless of the conditions, the
               audience or my fellow team members, I will give my all for Kingdom.
               The antidote to professionalism is not to be less professional, but to
               give 100% to the task of worship leading 100% of the times,
               regardless of what is going on around you!

I believe that the true measure of professionalism and I mean this in the best
possible sense of the word, is to continue to serve even when you feel sick, have a
headache, don't feel up to it or when the conditions are not to your liking. I would
rather be professional in this spiritual sense, than professional in my performing
ability, with the bad attitude that very often comes with it!

So the antidote to the poisonous aspect of professionalism is true professionalism in
the spirit, being wholly devoted to the Lord, the team and his desires, rather than our
own conditions.

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                       Poison 8: Perfectionism

                 Perfectionism is different to any previously mentioned poison, and
                 the big problem with this poison is that is it so subtle that it can
                 affect even well meaning, balanced worship leaders without their
even recognizing it! It is once again aligned with pride, and it is often disguised in a
quite devious fashion

This poison often presents in a bottle marked, “Excellence for God!” While those
who know me best will recognize that I am a perfectionist in many ways (so I am in
no way condoning offering a substandard offering to the Lord in worship), I try to
make sure that my perfectionist streak affects only one person...ME!

The poison starts to act not so much when we demand perfection of ourselves, but
when we start to demand it of others in a way that is not honouring to God.

If you are anything like me, you always want to do a really great job, and walk away
with the satisfaction of knowing that you have done it well. For this reason I am often
hard and demanding on myself, trying to “buffet my body” (1Corinthians 9:27), but
that is not where this subtle poison begins to take effect.

                      Don’t be a Resounding Gong

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13 that, no matter what wonderful things you do, you are
only like a resounding gong or cymbal if you do not have love. This is the essence of
the action of this poison. You can sound great, look great and be a huge success,
but unless you do this with love, you are letting the poison start to work its devious

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I have been in worship teams, and seen many worship teams, where the drive
towards perfection is done at the expense of those in the team. There is shouting,
people who are not “good enough” are publicly embarrassed and an atmosphere of
fear develops in the team, with every person worried that they may not be good
enough to satisfy the worship leader.

The poison of perfectionism breeds a climate of fear in the group, and destroys unity
and love, and thereby makes us only resounding gongs, devoid of any true power.

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            The Antidote For the Poison of

               The Antidote to Perfectionism is simple: do everything in the worship
               team in love!

The antidote is not, “settle for a lousy job”. You can still have a wonderful worship
time, and beautifully produced music, with a spirit of love. Getting a great result, and
sometimes even a perfect result, is obtainable with love, it just takes a little time and
patience, and the ability to honour your team members.

So, instead of bad-temperedly demanding perfection, take a little longer and love
people along. If they cannot play or sing what you are asking, then either give them
some homework, encourage them more (my singers often hit notes they tell me they
cannot hit with a bit of love and coaxing on my part) or, most importantly, CHANGE
what you are asking them to play, so that it is something within their grasp, and
something that, under the pressure of the actual performance, they will be able to
play or sing with confidence.

Above all, please never, never, never use embarrassment as a way of trying to get
the right result. They will fear you and dislike you for it, and no good shall come of
this in the end, so you need to swallow your perfectionist streak and be patient and
loving towards your team members, even if it takes longer!

I often make people laugh when I tell them that, in almost every church where I have
been worship director, there are singers or musicians who play or sing poorly. I
never fire them, because usually they love what they are doing so much! Instead, i
take whatever action is necessary to bless them and love them.

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This extends to turning them down. Often we have a singer who loves to worship
but is flat, or has a horrible tone to their voice. I always encourage them, but have a
quiet word with the sound guy to turn them down in the front mix. Keep them in the
fold back, so they think they are being heard, but turn them down in the mix that
everyone else is hearing. That way we sound OK, and the person does not even
know the difference, but feels blessed to be part of the team.

That’s just what I do, but whatever you decide to do, you must place love first. Be a
servant and care for your worship team, and if you honour them in love you will have
found the antidote to the poison of perfectionism.

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   Present Yourselves as Living Sacrifices

                      Romans 12:1-2 shows two phases to effective vaccinations for
                      your Christian service. You can inoculate yourself now, long
                      before you even come into contact with the poison itself, so
                      why wait until you are in trouble to deal with these sins.

                      It is easier to vaccinate than to seek the antidote as you are
                      succumbing to the poison!

1. The first, is to present yourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to the
Lord your God. This means that whatever we do, we do it with all of our heart, with
all of our mind, soul and spirit, and with the right, gracious and humble attitude. This
means that no matter how we feel, or what is going on around us, that we give 100%
in devotion and worship, 100% of the time.

It also means that when we are not onstage leading worship, we do everything in our
power to continue to present ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to the
Lord in every aspect of our lives, both in our relationships with others in the church,
relationships with our family and in our private moments.

When the burnt offering is laid upon the altar, the priests used large sticks to bring
the carcass back to the central area of the flame, making sure that every part of the
carcass is utterly consumed. There is nothing left, the priests are not entitled to eat
any part of it, it is to be holy consumed with the fire of the Holy Spirit.

This must be us! We must be holy, totally consecrated in devoted to the Lord! We
cannot hold anything back and nothing must fall off the altar flame. We must be
completely, totally and utterly devoted to the Lord and to His service. If we start to
compromise and hold areas back from the searching eye of the Holy Spirit, there is

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potentially a disaster waiting for us further down the line. For own good, our families,
our worship teams and our church, we must be totally sold out to the Lord... 100%!

But the second phase is presented to us in verse two...

2. We are challenged to no longer conform to the pattern of this world, but be
transformed by the renewing of our minds. This is the way that we can offer
acceptable worship to the Lord. It is not enough to just be wholehearted and
devoted in everything we do, we must be on guard against conforming to the pattern
the world tries to squeeze us into.

King David was a man who was wholehearted in everything he did. In fact, the Lord
described them as “a man after my own heart.” Yet this wholehearted devotion did
not mean that he was immune from the pressures of the world around him, and he
committed such spectacular sins as adultery and murder even after he had proven
himself fully committed to the Lord again and again. When he serve the Lord, he
served with all of his heart, but when he sinned he also did that with all of his heart
as well.

So because music and worship of such emotional things, we need to be careful
about our emotions, so as we do not become a victim of the standards of the world,
but one who rises above the world and what it stands for.

Consequently, the true secret to avoiding these poisons is to consecrate yourself to
the Lord, being fully and 100% devoted to him, and to be on guard against
conforming to the patterns the world puts forward. These patterns affect lifestyle,
morality, pride, success, promotion, leadership, position and a whole host of other
areas where the world would have us conform to its standards rather than the
standards of the Lord.

I urge you brothers and sisters, those called by the Lord to be worship leaders,
singers and musicians, do not wane in your love for the Lord, and do not

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compromise on your serving heart. Make sure that you are 100% devoted to the
Lord and to his purposes, rather than your own, and make sure that you do not
conform to the pressures of the world which will always come against you.

If you obey these two things and if you conquer these poisons that come against
you, then you will surely rise to become a powerful and anointed worship leader...

   Rise up to become the praise and worship leader
                you are destined to be!

  For more great information on praise and worship leading, great
   tips and techniques and training for your team members, visit


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