It’s not your association with famous people that gives you significance, but your personal relationship with Jesus.
In 2009, I came to Dallas to study worship leading at Christ For the Nation’s Institute. For about 8 years prior to attending CFNI, I had grown as a quiet worshiper in my own home in Illinois, learning to play the piano and writing songs for my King. I never expected that one day God would actually let me quit teaching and lead me to study worship and music in Texas. It was a dream come true.
But, once I got here, I realized that most of the foundation I gained in true worship, though, was built already those 8 years prior in training on the floor reading His Word, praying, and crying out to Him on my piano. Now it would be testing time!
Yes, at CFNI, God had plans to fine-tune and test my motives and obedience to Him at the crossroads of seemingly really good opportunities that would come my way. Would I rather have Jesus?
At CFNI, I met some pretty amazing people in worship. Our school brought in nationally renowned and successful songwriters, Christian artists, and teachers of worship. It was easy to get starry-eyed at the possibility of getting to know these new friends or becoming like one of them in success: writing powerful songs, singing on large platforms for Jesus, being on the radio with the latest popular worship song that would touch multitudes of lives.
Although these icons who stood before us were in humility presenting Christ’s example and training us for worship, as receivers sometimes it was tempting to see their fame and success and become distracted by their reputation and popularity. So, it was important to constantly check my motives and ask God to keep my focus on Him, to keep reminding myself why I was here at the worship school.
As a result, God showed me my true heart through various types of tests. While others could audition and be on worship bands, God wanted me to go and sing in the prayer room. When I was on a worship band in the prayer room and in my internship, if there were others who wanted to sing, God taught me to pass the mic to them, letting them sing instead of me. Sometimes I wondered if it was because I just wasn’t good enough. Maybe they were better? But, God then had to teach me to get over myself and that kind of thinking, comparing myself to others because corporate worship wasn’t about self, but God, and flowing together to serve Him.
Then, there were the tests in meeting successful worship leaders. Sometimes doors or opportunities would open where it would have been easy to promote a song I’ve written or to get close in fellowship to learn from one of them. But, at times when it seemed like the most wonderful opprtunity was before me, God would say no. And, then, I’d have to decide: Do I want to follow the exciting door in front of me because it’s so cool, or do I want to obey God and walk through the doors that He alone opens for me? Essentially, would I obey God’s no? Would I rather have Jesus?
I remember one night, I had an opportunity to go to a key worship songwriter’s house and hang out with them and a house band who’d be there that evening. I was told I could invite a friend, as well. The invitation felt like favor, and I wanted to attend for so many reasons. I remember feeling significant to have such an opportunity, but I kept feeling God’s nudge to decline. It didn’t make sense to me. Here was my potential for breakthrough into the worship songwriting world by hanging out and learning from an acclaimed worship songwriter, and God was saying, ” No.”
Would I rather have Jesus?
I would rather have Jesus
Than worldwide fame
I’d rather be true
To HIS Holy Name.
And, so I declined. I obeyed God because I love Him. I knew that nothing could be better than having my personal relationship with Him. I knew it was the right choice. I passed the test.
The lesson I learned from that experience grounded me in my walk and journey with Him in worship.
You see, worship is always about putting God first and glorifying Him. If anything competes with our hearts’ motives to do that, we have to crucify it.
As a result I’ve learned a key lesson for such a time as this. True worship doesn’t need our name in lights or a platform or even a congregational audience. God may have that tool for us, but those environments won’t mean anything without God’s Presence. True worship is what I was doing those 8 years alone in my sweet Victorian apartment on the keyboard, crying out to God. His Presence was there. True worship is obeying Him with every step of my life journey because His Presence is with me.
True worship just takes a hungry heart sincerely wanting to connect with God and to draw close to Him. It takes partnering with the Holy Spirit and obeying His leading to get totally honest before the Living God. It’s abdolutely and completely and only about honoring God’s Presence and glory.
The marvel is that when we get in that true worship, we are changed for good. Forever.
So why would God test my heart so much?
He loves me. He wants to guard what He has done in my life. He’s jealous of my love and worship. He wants me to keep my worship pure. True worship.
The time is coming when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. That time is now here. And these are the kinds of worshipers the Father wants.
Check out 30 sec. clip of a new song,
“Dying to Self”