At one of our recent worship events, one of our vocalists was distraught to the point of tears about not being able to hit a note exactly like she wanted to. I walked by the restroom after our sound check and run through, and could hear her crying. Her mom was trying to console and encourage her, but it wasn’t working. I knocked on the door, asked if I could come in, and I could see that she was distraught and beating herself up to the point that all of her joy was gone out of her singing and leading worship. Singing was turning into something negative, something humiliating and stressful to her, and she was not able to worship God with the freedom that she had experienced before. To see her so upset made me really upset, because I knew where her head was at, and I wanted to do whatever I could to get her to see it for what it really was.

It’s something that every singer or musician has to face down at some point. I had a serious heart talk with her, and explained to her that what she was feeling was anxiety, stress, and depression from trying to be PERFECT. It’s a sly tool that the enemy uses to render us ineffective in our worship. As vocalists, we go through so many emotions, continually battling the idea of perfection, of not being good enough. Singing is such a vulnerable and emotional thing, and we can negatively spin out of control if we don’t have a healthy grasp of why we’re doing it, and Who we’re doing it for.
I believe that trying to attain perfection is the enemy of excellence in worship, and
here’s why:

When we are focused on being technically perfect, the focus turns inward. It’s on ourselves, and our own capability (or lack of).

Perfectionism is a bottomless pit. Our brain says “I’m never good enough,” or “Everybody will see me as flawed if I don’t do this perfectly,” or “I only feel good about myself if I meet my standard of perfection.” Perfectionists are always disappointed in themselves and can become paralyzed
by fear.

1 Corinthians 10:31 says this: “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”.

Striving for excellence demonstrates that you have a good work ethic, strength of character, and integrity in what you do. Perfectionism, on the other hand, sets standards that are so high they either can’t be attained, or only with great difficulty. Perfectionists tend to believe that anything short of perfection is horrible, and that even minor imperfections lead to catastrophe. Over time, you might even start to believe that you’re not as capable as others, so you should just give up. And that’s why we have to stay mindful of why we do what we do, and Who we do it for.

A few helpful things in this battle of the mind and heart:

Realize that perfectionism is the enemy of joy. This takes time. When you feel perfectionism rise within you, take a moment. Remind yourself of why you have chosen not to see your efforts in this way. Know that if you work hard at something, invest your heart and your passion and your mind, your outcome will be great.

If you make a mistake, be okay with it. Mistakes aren’t the problem, being paralyzed into in-action is. Change how you relate to mistakes. Don’t think of them as something to be avoided at all costs. Mistakes are opportunities for growth. You can’t truly be passionate about something unless you’re willing to risk getting something wrong. You don’t learn anything by standing back on the sidelines. You learn by falling down, getting back up, and then going a step further.

Perfectionism isn’t part of your personality. Perfectionism is just a way to cope with the unpredictable. It’s about control. You’re not changing who you are as a person by renouncing perfectionism, you’re just discovering who you are without this
false armor.

It was a very teachable moment for me with my student that night, as I reminded her of what she should be focusing on: the things of God, and the things of eternal value. Things that cause the name of Jesus to be honored and worshiped, and that cause people to recognize their sin, repent, and move closer to God. And that is what we get to do as worship leaders when we use our voices as an instrument, bringing glory to God. May you be blessed as you pour into the next generation of worship leaders and musicians!

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