His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
This is my personal experience leading praise in church for Youth Sunday, and I hope this may encourage anyone who’s reading this.
I was asked if I could serve in the worship team as praise leader for Youth Sunday. To be honest, I had had a gut instinct that I would be asked to serve, but was really shocked about being tasked to lead praise. I joined the Shine Youth praise team a few months ago, and could count with one hand the number of times I had led praise in the Youth. I had my reservations and doubts about leading, and tried to weasel out of it by suggesting that I serve as a back-up vocalist instead (an idea that didn’t take flight). Nevertheless, I felt obligated to serve because I knew I could sing decently well, and this was a new opportunity to serve God.
As practices drew closer, my reservations about leading praise grew exponentially. I worried about not being spiritually mature enough; worship is sacred, and I didn’t think I was in any position to lead others in worshipping God. I even wondered if God might possibly get angry at me for doing so. During this time, I also started to feel that He was distant and very silent, and possibly because of my overthinking tendencies, I even questioned if He was doing this on purpose. It was like being in a long-distance relationship with God. In hindsight, I might have been experiencing a bout of spiritual attacks then. On top of this, I was completely clueless about coordinating the music team.
I wondered if it was appropriate to be serving as a praise leader when I didn’t think I was thriving in my walk with God. I started to seriously consider bailing out of this and was troubled because it was already too late, yet at the same time I really didn’t want to serve in this manner anymore. It felt worse when I kept my cool during team practices, but was internally freaking out. I didn’t want to affect the others by showing my discomfort, and ironically, people telling me how well practices were going made me panic even more because now I felt fake – sure, the technicalities might’ve been great, and people might’ve thought I sounded good, but what about the state of my heart?
By chance, or divine appointment, I started talking to some people in church who are more experienced and whom I trust. They gave really valuable insights and advice which were quite reassuring to me. There was one important question that was raised: “Do you love Jesus?” I was reminded that the condition of our hearts is what’s most important to God – what He wants is for us to love Him, who is our first love. We might experience spiritual highs and lows in our lives, but ultimately, God sees our hearts for what they truly are. I was very encouraged by these people who got me to think deeper about the state of my own heart. I read the bible more and prayed more, and specifically asked God to reassure me of His love, that He wasn’t deliberately ditching me even though He felt so far away, and for Youth Sunday to proceed smoothly.
During the Youth Sunday weekend, I found that leading praise was not such a daunting experience after all. Everything went pretty smoothly and the technicalities were generally secure. However, that unsettled and empty feeling remained because God still felt distant. I wondered, “Am I serving God in vain?” Nevertheless, I was thankful that I could now take my mind off Youth Sunday, and go on a break from leading praise in Shine Youth for a few months to recharge spiritually. I had decided on this break because I didn’t want to pour from a seemingly empty cup.
The very day after Youth Sunday, God answered my prayer at the most unexpected time and in the most unexpected way. I received a note from someone who prayed for us Shine Youths – the first thing written was “El Roi: the God who sees me.” That person doesn’t know me at all, and I knew it was a very specific message from God that the person couldn’t have known unless God impressed it upon her. It was beautiful and also scary, because I’d specifically asked God if He could give me His reassurance through another person, because it would be very clear to me. I was extremely shocked that God chose to answer me right after Youth Sunday was over – why not sooner? It would’ve allowed me to enjoy serving more. Perhaps God wanted me to learn to trust Him and be faithful in everything, in every season. God never actually forgot me. He’s a father who carries us, His redeemed children, with joy. Isn’t it beautiful that we can be called sons and daughters of the most high King? I didn’t really understand how amazing this is as a child, but as I’m growing older, I’m starting to.
The joy of serving has been greatly renewed in me, and I’m excited to serve God more. I’m thankful to God for His faithfulness and for seeing us through the whole Youth Sunday experience. I’m also grateful to everyone in MPCC who supported the praise team in one way or another, and for being ever so encouraging. Even now, I don’t think I’ll ever feel completely ready for anything, but I’m learning to remember that it is God who empowers each one of us to serve Him, because we do nothing on our own. God’s strength is made perfect in our human weakness. I’m also learning to be faithful to God and trust Him in every season. I hope I can become as bold as a lion to serve God. It’s a long process of growth for me, but hey, I guess that’s what our short life on earth is for – for us to be renewed every day, to become more Christlike till the day we see God face to face.
Just as I was encouraged by so many people who reassured me and prayed for me, I would like to encourage anyone who might be feeling worried or hesitant about serving God. What God desires is our hearts; for us to love Him, and if we know God is calling us to serve Him, we can be assured that He is the one who’ll empower us to do it. He is always with us, and makes everything beautiful in His time. Today, if we hear His voice, let’s not harden our hearts as in the rebellion of Israel against God. Let’s serve God in whatever ways we can. Obedience is what we can choose to give to God. He is the God who sees us and doesn’t forget us. I pray that all our cups will overflow with God’s love and joy as we choose to serve Him in whatever area we’ve been called to, and that one day, we’ll enter into God’s presence, having been good and faithful servants.
Esther is currently serving in SHINE Youth (vocalist) and Zimrah Worship (projectionist) ministries. She was also a facilitator for the Youth Alpha@Home held earlier this year. Do give her a shout (or wave) if you spot her buried behind the computer screen in the AV room at the back of our Sanctuary!