In the past few months we have looked into the meaning of worship. We have unwrapped truths and untruths about the praise of our Savior and what that should look like in our lives. This month I want to talk about a difficult subject when it comes to worship. I want to talk about personal preferences and how they get in the way of honest worship to our Lord.
We all have our own set of likes and dislikes and things that minister to us as well as others that do not. When it comes to the creative arts, most of us have very strong opinions about what is good and what does not resonate with us. In most church settings, the musical worship portion of the service is the most artistic part of Sunday morning. Inevitably, this causes a lot of divisiveness because of our personal preferences.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with having personal preferences. Without them, we would be autonomous objects without feeling or personality. The problem arises when we let our own likes and dislikes get in the way of entering into worship. I am a younger person and, like many others my age, I resonate more with newer, more contemporary worship music. I love finding new songs and albums and getting fresh ideas for worship through them. In contrast, there are some other folks who are extremely ministered to by traditional hymns and older worship music. I believe that both new and old music has so much to offer, but, many times, we get so caught up in the style of the worship that it hinders how we enter into the presence of God. We roll our eyes and breathe a sigh of annoyance when the worship team chooses songs that do not fit into our box of personal preferences. When we do this, we completely miss the point of worship and we need to learn to refocus our hearts and minds.
Instead of focusing on the style of the music, we should focus on the lyrics and the message. There is so much beauty and truth in so many of the songs we sing, both old and new. But somehow, we think that we simply cannot enter into worship when we are singing a song that we do not personally like. The bottom line with this thought process is that worship becomes “me” focused instead of “God” focused. What is the purpose of worship? It is to honor, praise and glorify our Lord! It has absolutely nothing to do with us. It is all a response of our hearts to the Holy Spirit, and if the lyrics of the music help us focus on Him and all that He has done, that is all that should matter.
As a musician, this can get difficult for me sometimes because I think I own the market on what sounds good and what will minister to people. But then I am humbled before the throne of Jesus when I remember it is all a beautiful sound of praise to Him. When we struggle with resonating with a song, the solution might be to speak the lyrics aloud as a prayer to Jesus. And if it honors Him, let’s work on switching the focus off of our preferences and onto the One who gives us breath in our lungs and vocal chords to sing His praises.