Confessions of a Worship Pastor:
That’s So Embarrassing


This is one of my favorite stories to share and definitely a top 3 most embarrassing worship leading moment — of which there are plenty!

I was leading from the piano with a band.  We were playing a song that’s a vocal start on the IV.  For those of you who aren’t musicians, that simply means the starting of the song can be a bit tricky and shouldn’t be done without practicing.  

So I began the song.  Remember it’s a vocal start, so I sing the first note before I hear the first chord to reference what key we’re in.  By now I’m sure you can guess, I started singing in one key and while I was playing in another key.  How awful!  This is one of the most embarrassing things that can happen to a worship leader.  Maybe even more than singing in your wireless mic (turned on) while you’re going to the bathroom — which I’ve also done!

The story isn’t over yet!  I’m a pretty determined person, so the next week I decided to “climb back on the horse” to give it another try.  I start the song.  The same thing happens — I’m singing in one key and playing in another.  Two weeks in a row!  Panic begins to rise in my heart, and I’m sure on my face, as I realize what’s happening…again.  This time, I stop the band and say to the congregation, “Let’s take a moment to greet one another.”  Then I bang the melody out on the piano and start the song again.

Honestly…I have not sung that song, privately or publicly, since that night — circa 2000.  That song is dead to me! 🙂

When I get together with my worship leader friends I love telling that story, and hearing their similar stories.  It’s great to be able to laugh at our mistakes.  When you start comparing stories with friends there are some themes that begin to arise.  Below are a few things I have learned from my mistakes over the years.

Mistakes don’t seem to bother the Holy Spirit

I’ve talked with dozens and dozens of worship leaders and, without exception, every leader has said that despite the mistakes or embarrassments during a service, the Holy Spirit seems to still touch hearts.  God is so gracious.  Just because we mess up, whether through our fault or not, God still reveals Himself to His children.

I always tell my teams that practicing is important because our mistakes can distract people.  Our job, by practicing, is to minimize the distractions so the people we are leading can worship God without hearing misplayed notes or bad harmonies.  While that is true, it is also true that God will reveal Himself to any heart that is seeking after Him, despite the surrounding circumstances.  Thank God!

Don’t let a mistake suck you downward

If you’re anything like me, when I get embarrassed I just want to tuck my head into my shell like a turtle.  So, when I would make an embarrassing mistake I would stop making eye contact.  Usually my leading would suffer because I was no longer leading confidently.

What I’ve learned to do now is to acknowledge my mistakes — leading with confidence and continuing to engage those I’m leading.  I keep making eye contact.  I laugh it off (or just acknowledge the mistake by smiling).  I’ve even been known to reset the song.

Mistakes are a part of being human

We’ve all heard the phrase “practice makes perfect”.  We talk to our teams about playing with excellence.  And yet, the reality is part of being a healthy person means you come to grips with not being perfect — making mistakes.  It’s part of life.  I’m not saying we shouldn’t practice because it is important to offer our best sacrifice to God.  However, I’ve discovered that being an emotionally healthy person means I realize that I will fail, make mistakes, and embarrass myself.  Because I know that mistakes are a part of being human, I don’t let them cause me as much embarrassment.

These are some of the things I’ve learned.  Use the comments below to share your experiences and insight.

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