Recently I got a call from a worship pastor friend who was befuddled and discouraged. He was deeply hurt. He had received a hand-written anonymous note after worship one Sunday, attacking him and accusing him of being a “performer”. That term – “performance” was consistently used, over and over to demean and compare his leadership with that of a polished actor, discharging his duties as a professional musician void of genuine heart and motives. I felt sorry for the writer of the note. They had become the handmaiden of evil.
Unfortunately, I’ve heard this before. Everyone has an opinion. We enter worship every week with assumptions and preconceived notions. We have preferences. We know what we like and dislike. When kept in their proper context, they can be beneficial. Yet when they motivate us towards prejudice and judgement of someone else’s worship, we are in dangerous waters. Profoundly dangerous with the risk of losing something precious!
King David was finally restoring the Ark of the covenant to it’s rightful place. With great and profound worship, he moved the Ark to the City of David. It was indeed the very presence of God. The scriptures tells us that David “Danced with all his might before the Lord”. He did so, in what was basically his undergarments or linen ephod typically worn by the levites or priests. This picture in 2 Samuel 6: 14-23, tells us that in all this grand splendor, David’s wife, Michal, “looked down from the window and saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart“.
With great and profound worship, he moved the Ark to the City of David.
Later, when David comes home to “bless his household” he is met by Michal who satirically greets him: “How the King of Israel honored himself today!” She said. “He exposed himself today in the sight of the slave girls of his subjects like a vulgar person would expose himself”. Michal had looked down on David from her lofty perch and proclaimed his worship vulgar. She had passed judgement. In her view, he was offensively performing before the slave girls. David’s response: “I was dancing before the Lord…I will celebrate before the Lord…I will humble myself even more and humiliate myself”. His motivation was the joy of the Lord. And…it was pleasing to God!
As David’s worship was pleasing to the Lord, so Michal’s words were repugnant and pronounced the chill of her heart. Verse 23 simply says: “and Michal had no child to the day of her death”. Most Biblical scholars believe this was because of God’s removal of His Spirit and blessings from her life. Her name was removed from the list of wives and she is not mentioned again. Ichabod – the glory has departed!
As David’s worship was pleasing to the Lord, so Michal’s words pronounced the chill of her heart.
As my friend is reading this note to me, I feel the chill and venom of Michal’s prejudice and judgement: “you are a performer”. Yet little does she know, he has prayed, sought after God, planned, rehearsed and laid his life before his King! He has stood before the people to point them towards Jesus. Yet from this modern-day Michal’s lofty perch, she sees a musician who is too polished, too rehearsed and too slick. Maybe his hair is too trendy and his clothes too progressive. Maybe his voice is too pure and his musicianship too finely tuned. I wonder, should he sing pitchy or mess up some lyrics to show his humanity? Is he too tightly wound? Too happy? Too exuberant to be believable? Does he not pass the litmus test of your own superior worship? I wonder what the view is from Michal’s elevated & spiritually enlightened perch?
I do know from God’s view, He loves the heartfelt worship of His children. The Worship Pastor, team, band/orchestra, choir, leaders who spend hours and hours rehearsing their craft do it out of love and devotion. They wrestle with the tension of good motives. They come early and leave late. They are artist, servants, passionate and devoted. Just like all of us, they are broken people in need of grace. They are a gift to the church!
I do know from God’s view, He loves the heartfelt worship of His children.
Remember these 7 things – lest you find yourself like Michal – devoid of God’s presence:
- Never, ever, judge someone else’s worship! God is the judge, not you!
- Never, ever again accuse your worship leaders of performing. This arrogance says more about you, your motives and heart!
- Never demean your artist because they’re too good at what they do. This should really go without saying…
- Never, ever assume your preferences, assumptions and preconceived notions are shared or even valid! Leave them at the door.
- Love your worship leaders. Pray for them. Support them even when you don’t “get” them!
- Always remember: our worship is motivated by God, for God, to God!
- It’s not about you! Never has been…never will be!
Michal called vulgar that which was beautiful to God! In so doing she made a huge and serious misjudgement. She became the thief to rob David’s joy. In the end, God took it seriously enough to remove His presence, retrieve His blessing and leave her barren. She became irrelevant. Don’t make the same mistake. Look into the mirror and allow God to prepare your heart to explode with the same joy, praise, worship and celebration as did David’s.