For the last couple of weeks I have found myself thinking a great deal about worship, not just others, but how I worship God myself. I realized that many times recently I have found myself struggling with worry about what others might think. Many have a hard time believing this, but I really am an extremely shy person. I struggle with self-esteem issues and worry about people not liking me or thinking ill of me. This often effects my public worship, because I find myself worrying about what others might think. Privately, I dance, I shout and let it all hang out. But get me in front of others and I tend to tone it down. This morning I found myself praying and asking the Lord to help me with this. I recall sitting in a service in Atlanta a few years ago and hearing Robert Sterns teach on worship and it ignited something in my heart. After that service I was talking with Jerome Olds and he said to me "As pastor, you model worship before your church. What you release into your church, they will model themselves after you." I had forgotten those words until this morning. I realize now that if I hold back, those who sit under me will hold back as well. Time for me to confront my shyness and other issues head on and "model worship" before my church. I'm not talking about putting on an act, but worshiping as I normally worship without fear or reservation. I'm sure there will still be a battle, but I'm going to take this one on, starting NOW!
All this got me to thinking about a previous post I made, so I went looking for it and was stunned to discover it was the very first post I made on this blog, and it was made 3 years ago this month. I brought it here for you all to read, but if you have time, you'll find it worth your while to go back to the original post and read the comments that were made.
Monday, August 29, 2005It is obvious that there has been a real change over the past few months taking place in Harvest Church. It is actually a little difficult to put into words, but it is almost like an atmospheric change over the house. Divisions seem to be disappearing resulting in a new unity of the sort I have not witnessed since coming here as pastor. One of the most noticeable changes is in the area of worship. There seems to be a fresh wind hitting the house, and people are worshipping more openly and some with reckless abandon. I am not sure if the worship is ushering in the move of God, or if the move of God is inducing the worship; but either way, something is different. Still there are some (a good portion of the church) who just sit and observe, rather than participate. Last night during the worship, I looked out over the people, and I saw probably 40% of the people either sitting or standing and just watching the others worship. I wondered, "Why are they not worshipping too?" Suddenly the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart and said, "They are afraid of doing something which will embarrass themselves." I admonished the people to worship, and a few others did; still most remained in the role of observer.
After the service, I privately spoke to a few individuals and they confirmed that they were afraid to worship because they did not want anyone to laugh at them or think that they were odd. I pointed out first of all that they were admitting that this is a pride issue. They were more concerned with what people thought of them than they were with giving God the praise He deserves. Secondly, I asked them if they realized that they were actually in the minority of people in the house, that most people were in fact worshipping, and that they in fact stand out more for not worshipping than they would if they were participating. Isn't it funny that by not worshipping, they were in fact looking like the odd ones in the group? The devil plays this game with our minds and causes us not to see the obvious. He robs us from the freedom to worship God by telling us we will draw attention to ourselves, when in fact, people notice us more for sitting and not taking an active role in worship.
Church, it is time to stop letting the enemy of our souls put chains around us that not only rob us of the freedom and joy that our Lord wants us to live in, but those chains are also stealing the praise that our God deserves! You have no doubt heard me say this before, but it is well worth repeating. "You will never do in the church house what you are not accustomed to doing at home." What I mean by that is that you need to start worshipping God daily in your homes, in your car and where ever you go. If you are one who is too embarrassed to worship in public... start out by worshipping at home. Take time each day in the privacy of your home to praise the Lord. Put on some praise and worship music and just worship the King of Kings. Begin to lift your hands, speak of His goodness and give Him praise. Dance before the Lord. Before long, you will discover that it comes natural, because you were created for this!
A commercial from years ago said, "Try it... you'll like it!" Can I challenge you today to try praising the Lord... I promise you, you will like it. More importantly, our God will like it!