Freedom Within Structure: Lead People, Not Yourself

Andrew Stanley —  September 26, 2013 — 2 Comments
Part 2 of 3 in the series Freedom Within Structure


You’ve heard it said, “you can never lead someone somewhere that you’re not going yourself.”

Let me paint you a picture.
Imagine with me for a minute that you were out for a walk one day. You saw beauty in creation that you had never seen before. God was showing you life in things you had never seen – things you had never known about Himself! Colour was bursting to life right before your eyes! Really, imagine yourself in that moment of awe with me for a minute.

You would head back home and you would be a changed person! You would live life differently and you would be in awe of even the smallest things around you through the rest of your day or week.

Chances are, at some point you would be so excited about this experience that you wouldn’t be able to keep it to yourself. You would want to bring some friends on this walk with you. So, you all strap up your hiking boots and you’re off to show your friends the beauty and glory of God that you had just experienced.

You head back into the woods with your friends and God’s beauty is overwhelming you once again. In your excitement and passion you dive into an even deeper place of awe between you and God! Eventually, you get back home again and turn around to discover that your friends aren’t arriving home with you. In fact, your friends had lost you long ago when you were deep in your own experience back in the woods.

When you finally find them, they explain that although they appreciated the sights and sounds of the woods, they were so concerned about where you had gone as their leader and how they were then going to get home that they couldn’t appreciate the full beauty of what they we’re surround by. They were lost.

Are you catching the connection? Yes, it’s true, we can only lead people to a place that we have already been (or at least know the way to), but people don’t need us to demonstrate the feeling of engagement as much as they need us to SHOW them the details in creation along the way (sticking with our analogy) so that they can have the same experience that you once had.

Who would you rather follow? And be honest. Someone who takes off and looks like they’re deep in worship on their own (expecting us to do the same), or someone who is willing to walk slow with us, to lift up the leaves on the ground to discover new life below, to point around corners and say, “look over there!! Isn’t that awesome?”, someone to stop with us and say, let’s just take a deep breath together and enjoy this moment.

I think you’ll find that people will begin to discover things on their own as time goes on (minutes of the set or maybe over a period of weeks or years). Of course this is only by the movement of the Spirit that our eyes can be opened to these things to begin with.

We need to recognize that the people we’re leading have not be thinking about this music set for a couple of weeks already. They don’t know what song is next, let alone what characteristic of God we’re trying to show them until we get there.

We need to be leaders that lead people. Not ourselves.

People NEED leaders that are willing to slow down and point out the details that may no longer have the “new and exciting” factor attached to them for us. Our joy and passion of worship leadership has to come from leading people to places for the first time, not necessarily from us discovering something new ourselves.

I think you’ll begin to find that when you slow down to lead (more so than demonstrate), God will reveal things to you that you never could have seen had you rushed forward without those you were leading. And then the passion and physical expression that you are then demonstrating is something that people can and will understand, relate to, and dive deep into.

Only then will our worship gatherings then become a corporate experience. And isn’t that what we’ve been aiming for all along?!

I realize that I have strayed off of what might seem normal to a topic within this series, but this is the foundation that I needed to lay in order to talk about the structure that I use myself when I lead – we’ll get into that next week.

We desire to be leaders that experience the presence and power of Christ TOGETHER!! What could possibly be more freeing than that?!

Series Navigation<< Freedom Within Structure: Respecting TimeFreedom Within Structure: God in our Planning >>

Andrew Stanley


2 responses to Freedom Within Structure: Lead People, Not Yourself

  1. Hey man…good thoughts. I would add something. The leader also needs to let his friends play around in the space (in the woods). As worship leaders, if we want to bring them to a place of, say, focusing on God’s faithfulness, there will be many different ways of perceiving it or enjoying it. The role of the leader is to get them to that space lead them to that space, and then let them enjoy God.

    One of the most helpful thoughts I’ve heard is Ruth Haley Barton saying the role of the leader is to create the space.

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