Are you a perfectionist? I know at times I can be, especially when it comes to leading worship. Long before rehearsals even begin, I have a pretty good idea of how things should go; of how songs should be played, how lyrics should look, how lighting should feel, and how audio should, well, sound. I have high expectations of myself going into a room full of other musicians and team members, prepared and ready to go. Often times, if I’m honest, I beat myself up if I don’t leave rehearsals feeling like everything was perfect and ready for our weekend services. However, more often than those times of doubt, I experience times of rejoicing through God’s grace. It’s in these times of grace that I feel like I put all of my effort into creating an offering of excellence, and God heard my prayer and swiftly answered it.
What’s the difference?
You may be a bit confused at this point. If I felt like things weren’t perfect, and that caused doubt, then at what point did things become excellent? That’s just the difference—the difference between excellence and perfection. Although these words can tend to be interchangeable, in the right context, they can mean totally different things. The danger can come when we forget that very fact.
If you’re like me, often times you can expect perfection from yourself, and your team members. This can be detrimental in your volunteer retention, friendships with team members, and the ability to be a unified team bringing a unified message. So how can we maintain an accurate contrast of these two words and the expectations that come with them?
Is it attainable?
First off, there’s only one perfect person who ever walked this Earth. (If you are unsure as to who I’m referring to, there are bigger issues to solve; please open your Bible to John 3:16 for the answer.) Seriously though, Christ lived a perfect life so that we wouldn’t be judged by such a standard. Although we could never come close to achieving that, it’s good to know that Jesus already took that stress off of us. Perfection is a myth. Though we often marvel at other musicians, songwriters, producers, or tech guru’s for their abilities, they’re not perfect. We all have flaws, and we all make mistakes. Accept this fact, rest in the grace of Christ, and move forward.
Instead of focusing on perfection we should be pursuing the Perfect One. We as believers are called to walk in the ways of Jesus; to become more like Him in our daily Christian walks. In doing so, we know we must give all of who we are in commitment, adoration, and service to the God who created us. That means as musicians, singers, songwriters, or techs, we give everything we have to fulfilling what we are called to. THIS IS EXCELLENCE! The Bible has a great passage that applies to us worship leaders: “They and their families were all trained in making music before the Lord…” (1 Chronicles 25:7). We are all given abilities, but we are to craft these abilities so that we may skillfully perform our duties before the Lord of hosts! Such an amazing concept. God’s grace allows us to be who we are, but it’s up to us to ensure that we develop into fully knowing and discovering who we are! This applies even more so to worship leaders, because of the greater calling and responsibility that is on our lives.
The apostle Paul struggled with his lack of excellence, not perfection. He knew that he could never be perfect, but he also knew that he struggled with his flesh more than anything else. As worship leaders and musicians, we fight the same battle as the apostle Paul fought. Our flesh can often tell us that we don’t need to sharpen our crafts; that there’s no need for extra practice time, or learning new techniques, or making sure we are diligent in having our quiet times. These can all be equally as harmful as the misconception that we can achieve perfection.
Don’t set yourself or your team up for perfection—you won’t achieve it. Instead, expect excellence. Where does excellence begin? With you. Devote more time to reading, practicing, and discovering what God has in store for the worship experiences within your church body. Once you set the pace, your team will follow. Make it known that there are things you struggle with developing, but that just because you struggle with them doesn’t mean you’ll quit. Equip your team members with the tools necessary for them to develop excellence. Most of all, extend grace to those around you and help disciple them as they grow and develop towards excellence, together.
Don’t try to be perfect, be excellent!