EDITOR’S NOTE:  The following is an excerpt from Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin (Crossway Books).

Chapter 1:  The Important Things

It was my dream job. I’d just become Director of Worship Development for Sovereign Grace Ministries. After pastoring for twelve years, I was now studying worship and training worship leaders full-time.

I was leading worship at a conference and should have been exhilarated. After praying with the worship team I headed up the stairs to start the meeting. The room was overflowing, the atmosphere electric. Every heart was ready to praise God.

Well, almost. From the outside I’m sure no one could tell what I was thinking. That was a good thing.

As I made my way to the stage, I suddenly found myself battling

What difference will this make tonight? Will it have any eternal value? People will sing, raise their hands, get excited . . . and go home. And I’ll do this over and over and over again. For the rest of my life.

Suddenly it all seemed empty. Dry. Pointless.

Ever been there? Have you found yourself wondering where your joy went or if what you do really matters?

A friend of mine confided that one of his greatest struggles in leading worship is fighting the feeling that he has to “get up and do it again” for the two-hundredth time. He has to resist going through the motions and simply “mailing it in.”

I don’t think he’s alone.


Don’t get me wrong. I think leading God’s people in worship is one of the most fulfilling, enjoyable, exciting, sobering, life-changing jobs on the planet. We’re helping people connect with the purpose for which they were created—to glorify the living God. We’re pointing their hearts toward the Sovereign One who is greater than their trials and kinder than they could ever imagine. We get to display the matchless Savior who died in our place, conquering sin, death, and hell in the process.

We watch in amazement as the Spirit of God transforms lives and gives people a fresh encounter with God’s faithfulness, love, and power.

At times like these we think, I can’t believe I get to do this. (And if you’re on a church staff, you might add, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.”)

But then come the times we’d be happy to pay someone else to do this.

  • Your lead vocalist is sick, your bass player’s out of town, and your keyboardist slept in. And no one called to find a sub.
  • A small but influential group in the church just informed your pastor they don’t like the songs you’ve been teaching.
  • After two years in your new church, you still don’t have a drummer who can keep steady time.
  • Your best singer just told you she’s not coming to this week’s rehearsal unless she gets to sing the solo.
  • For the fifth week in a row, your pastor e-mailed to say the music went too long and you talked too much.

Moments like these make you think that leading worship would be a joy if it didn’t involve working with others.

But just as often we struggle with our own hearts:

  • No one seems to appreciate or even notice that on top of a full-time job you put in at least ten hours each week for the worship team.
  • The last time you taught a new song was eight months ago, and CDs are piled on your desk that you still haven’t listened to.
  • You put off confronting a guitarist whose critical and proud attitude is affecting the whole team.
  • You can’t remember the last time you prayed more than five minutes, and you feel like a hypocrite as you lead on Sundays.
  • You never have enough hours to plan, prepare, study, practice, or work with the music team. Which makes you wonder what in the world you’re doing with your time.

And yet . . .