[The following article is from the series, 'Ministering Through Songs' which is written with the Praise leader in mind]
Protect your mind Be careful of where you allow your mind to wander to:
Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God(1) to protect your mind from the attack of the enemy. Your mind is like a computer—what you put in, is what will come out. So be careful of what you allow the mind to store. If you feed your mind with junk—food (particularly that which the media promotes) you’ll also spit out garbage. Unfortunately, the information the world offers, often is partly true, yet contaminated with deception, so if you don’t have your helmet on, you can be spitting out garbage, thinking that you are sharing truth. Sadly, this can be fed to you from the pulpit as well, so ‘Trust, but verify.'(2) This is why it is important to read the bible for ourselves.
Feed your mind with the word of God. “Study to shew [show] thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2nd Tim 2:15, KJV).
To study means to work hard. This is, therefore, a message to the teacher as well as the learner. As children of God we are both teachers and learners and so it applies to us all. Below are some recommendations for studying the word of God.
If you don’t have a daily devotion, now would be a good time to begin. There are various devotional books that can help you to feed on the Word. Practise also to regularly gather with the saints. When we gather ourselves together we can learn a lot from the sermons, bible study sessions, prayer meetings etc. There are various ways you can become familiar with bible verses and their meanings while gathering with the saints. Often the saints will share a scripture when they share their testimonies or exhort the congregation.
In addition to joining with the saints(3), you can choose to memorise scripture verses. There might be various scriptures that relate to your particular struggle and you may choose to memorise them—this is a good thing because sometime later, a fellow believer may face the same struggle you have faced and you’ll need that scripture to encourage them. I hear you saying, “But I might not remember it.” When you need it the Holy Spirit will bring it back to you. Memory verses I learnt in Sunday school, that I had long forgotten, is now coming back to me when I hear them or when a situation arise and I need that word.
In this same magnitude, Rehearsal is a vital part of your ministry. Don’t wait until the morning of worship service to start thinking which songs to sing. Have regular rehearsals. Rehearse songs for the following week as well as songs that you can use for special events when the opportunity arises. This also constitute studying to show yourself approved unto God. When you rehearse you are looking not just at the formation of the team and the sound of their voices or the band in perfect harmony with the singers but you are checking the words of the songs to see if they are indeed edifying, asking yourselves questions such as:
1. Do they match up with the word of God?
2. Can you relate it to a bible verse or a story in the bible?
3. Do they minister loving words of comfort?
4. Do they provide answers to a particular struggle that the church may be going through?
5. Are they songs that goes with the theme that is running in the current bible study session?
a). Are your youth benefitting from the songs? b). Are you ignoring the older generation and only catering for the youth? c). Are there ones to uplift your leaders who may be feeling dejected or the members who came with their hurt and pain? d). Are there songs that speak to the hearts of our children? e). Are there songs that convict the unsaved to make a change? f). Are there songs to encourage the faithful warriors to continue on their journey? g). Do you have in your line-up a song that calls the lost sheep home?
6. Do you have a variety of songs that can minister to the different needs within the congregation?
7. Are the songs ministering to the people of God, in the right tone?
I ask these questions because praise leaders need to be aware that there is an order according to Ephesians 5:19. Paul encouraged the Ephesians to speak to themselves in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. In so doing you will have the word in you, ready to edify the saints. Earlier, He encouraged the Colossians to “Let the word of God dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col 3:16). Therefore, there is a need for variety on the menu. You have to be relevant for the times but you cannot just sing ‘worship songs’ and forget about the foundational songs. You can’t go through a service without a combination of these elements. Psalms—songs which are scriptural are there to teach; spiritual songs are there to encourage, motivate and break yokes (break chains and bring deliverance) and the hymns, being written by individuals who were inspired by God takes you to a different realm, setting you up for worship.
You are also fellowshipping one with another so submit yourselves one to another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:21). Each individual have their personal struggles at home, school, work and even within the fellowship. Allow time for them to share with the team or with a trusted individual, if they so desire. Have a time of praise—Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20). That’s the ministry in which you are called—Praise and Worship. Let God minister to your heart so you can minister to others. Allow Him to minister to your hurt and pain, bringing you healing from the very songs He has given you to minister unto others. So I recommend that you start your rehearsal sessions with a scripture. You can exhort each other, share a testimony or sing a prayerful chorus—just sing His praise: Exalt His name above all names, give Him the honour and the adoration due unto Him for He is worthy to be praised. Having done this, you will naturally come into a time of worship, blocking out the opportunities for gossiping and disrespect, in general.
Download quality stuff. The bible tells us that our minds should be focused on things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report “…if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Philippians 4:8, KJV). Therefore, our thoughts should be on things that are Christ-like and as we develop a Christ-like character, we become better worshippers and Christ is revealed through us. This is why it is important to cast our cares on the Lord(4), for if we have the cares of the world on our minds, they will crowd out the voice of God and we can fall into the trap set by the enemy.
‘Easier said than done!’ I hear you say. Well here’s how you are able to do it: “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, KJV). In other words, don’t worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything, however trivial it may seem to you. Tell God what you need and thank Him for what He has done and what He is about to do in your life and ministry (even though you don’t know how or when He will answer) then leave it in His capable hands and carry on praising Him, with your life, while He works it all out for you. By lifting up your faith, in believing that He will bring it together in His timing, you will find that His peace will be ignited within you and you will therefore, remain in control, continuing to do the work of Him who hath saved you and sent you [See Philippians 1:6].
(1)___Ephesians 6:17 (2)___A Quote from Ronald Reagan, shared by Cindy Hess Kasper, in the “Our Daily Bread” devotional (22/09/2010). (3)___Hebrews 10:24-25 (4)___Ephesians 4:6-7; Matthew 11:28-30
****[From the series: 'Ministering Through Songs'. This piece is directed at praise leaders. However, it is a reminder to all]****
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