When thinking about this week's post, I decided that I wanted to write something that would be a very practical help when leading worship. Since we started the blog, there have been a lot of really great posts about the theology of worship, excellence in music, and even our own experiences with worship, but there haven't been a lot of "how to" or "what to do" posts. So, this week I want to change that. I want us to look at a topic that I believe we all need help with: "What to Do When You Mess Up". That's right. What are you supposed to do when you make a mistake while leading in worship? I've come up with a few rules that I believe will help us.
Rule # 1: Don't Make a Face!
The first rule to remember is probably the hardest one to actually accomplish. When you mess up or make a mistake, the first instinct is to make a face. But when you do that it lets everyone else also know that you made a mistake. So, you've really got to train yourself to not focus on the mistake you just made and get back into the flow of worship. But this rule doesn't just apply to the person who made the mistake. It also applies to everyone else on stage. If you mess up and don't show it, but everyone else looks at you and makes weird faces, then once again the entire congregation knows that a mistake has been made. So, this first rule really applies to everyone.
Rule # 2: Just Keep Going!
This second rule is important because after we make mistakes we typically want to hang our heads in shame and just walk off the stage. Don't give in to that kind of thinking! Keep the song going. Keep playing. Keep singing. Don't let the flow of worship be interrupted by your mistake. We have been called by God to lead in worship. That calling doesn't end just because we messed up. What's amazing is that most people won't even notice when you make a mistake. So, if you stay focused on what you are doing, and for whom you are doing it, then typically, everything will work out in the end.
Rule # 3: Don't Dwell on Your Mistakes!
Now, this third rule goes along with the second rule. If you make a mistake, you've got to learn to let it go and get yourself focused in again on what you are doing. Because if you don't, you are liable to make more mistakes. Which you would then focus too much on and cause you to continue making even more mistakes. I've gotten a lot better about this the older I've gotten. 10 years ago, if I made a mistake while leading worship, it would drive me crazy. That's all that I could think about. Now, I understand that I'm going to make mistakes (every time I play/sing) and that being a part of a worship team means learning how to deal with them.
Rule # 4: Learn to Laugh at Yourself!
I can't begin to tell you how important this rule is. Once you've mastered it, life gets a lot easier. I mess up every Sunday while leading in worship. Whether I am playing an instrument or singing, I make plenty of mistakes. And over time I've learned that it's ok. It doesn't mean that I'm a bad musician or a bad worship leader. It just means that I'm human. So, now when I mess up or our team messes up royally, I just try to laugh about it. It helps to relieve the pressure and just reminds me again and again that I'm not perfect.
Now, there are probably many other good ideas and rules to follow when you make a mistake. These are just some that I try to remember when I mess up. All of that to say, there are moments when the rules probably should get thrown out the window, the music should come to a complete stop, and everyone should just have themselves a good laugh. The video below shows a church (not ours thank goodness) that follows rules #1 thru # 3 perfectly, but in reality, should have just called it a day and enjoyed themselves a good rule # 4!