“For me, especially over the past year, as I have been learning to pastor people through songs, I’ve really tried to take the music out of it. They need to understand that it is not about that at all,” Cottrell explains. “Music is vehicle that help our hearts to be positioned in the right place. But, the bottom line is that we really need to strip our preferences away when it comes to worship our Lord. We need to focus on what His Word says about that.”

As a worship leader, and especially as a worship pastor, Cotrell says it is important to gain the trust of those he pastors in order to help them move beyond the obstacle of preference.

“People will follow leaders they trust. And they trust leaders that are vulnerable before them. A leader needs strength, but he also needs vulnerability.”

So how does a leader do that?

Cottrell says it’s tempting for a leader to appear as though he or she is in full control and they have it “together.” So, in addition to being vulnerable, another way to gain the trust of those you lead is to talk about why you do what you do. “Give them moments to reflect on a song or a scripture before you jump in and sing it,” he advises. Allow the Holy Spirit to create what He wants for you on a particular day.”

If you are having trouble getting over the hurdle of preference, it is crucial to remember Whom you worship and why you worship. Our worship is in response to Who Jesus is, and what He did for us, not in response to what feels good, feels right or feels familiar.

Cottrell has advice for everyone, whether you are the person on stage leading or the person in the pew. We’re not going to be perfect in our worship or in anything else we do because of Him or for Him.

“God does not expect perfection from us. He knows what He’s working with. God is perfect for us. Worship with that in mind, and just rest in that truth.”


Joy Allmond is a writer for billygraham.org. She lives in Charlotte, NC with her husband, two step sons and two dogs. In her very little spare time, she can be found working on her latest culinary experiment, watching college basketball or buried in a book. She is pursuing a Master's degree in Biblical Studies. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joyallmond

Publication date: June 6, 2011