The musical journey of a musician should never end. It’s always in process. Discovering how to groove better, develop more chops, learn the latest technology… etc. It’s all important. But let’s step back again and address the heart of the worship drummer. Keeping your focus on the Lord, serving the worship leader, and leading people into His presence is your highest calling. Everything else serves that.
There is a moment in worship services, and even concerts, where there is a tangible sense that God is in the room. Of course God is present everywhere, but I’m talking about that “manifest presence” of the Lord when people are singing, praising, shouting, clapping hands, dancing, etc. And yes, sometimes it’s in the silent moments of worship too. We always have to stay tuned in to the Lord as we play… or not play. Things will happen that can distract us from our primary goal and calling as a worship musician. Staying focused when distractions happen can keep you from losing heart, and help maintain your passion as you play.
At an event with the Paul Baloche band the Lord was drawing me closer to Himself. He was calling me to be more aware of His presence as I played. We had finished praying before the service, but it didn’t really feel like a profound moment of seeking the Lord for me. Honestly, I felt like I was struggling the whole weekend. The drum kit was great, but it was new to me, and I never really felt like I got it tuned up and dialed into the way I wanted it to sound. So that was the first distraction. Then it seemed like the sound or “in-ear” mixes were not really working well for us. And last, but not least, Paul was not really feeling there was enough energy coming from the band. I tried a few things to create some “drive” to the drum parts I normally play. He was not happy with the changes. It’s a bummer when you think you’re helping and it is actually having the opposite effect. Sigh… And so it happens. Some days are better than others.
“Play so softly that no one else can hear it, but I will hear it… and right now that is all that matters.”
In the middle of the struggle I sensed the Lord saying to just worship Him. Not to focus on what isn’t working, or isn’t perfect… but to just do my best and pour my heart into it. And so I put on my best “game face” and sat down at the drums to express my love for the Lord in what He has gifted me to do. As one of the pastors welcomed everyone and started to pray, the band started to play softly under what was being said. I honestly didn’t hear him (the pastor) very clearly, but the Lord spoke to me. He said, “Play so softly that no one else can hear it, but I will hear it… and right now that is all that matters.” So for the next few moments I just used my fingers and played the drums and cymbals to worship the Lord. I was flowing with the other sounds coming from the band, but it was as soft as I could play it. If anyone else heard it didn’t matter. I was doing it at the Lord’s request.
It was odd… and amazing at the same time. My heart seemed to be refocused on why I was there and what worship is really about… and Who it really is for.
(I Chronicles 25:7 NIV – … all of them trained and skilled in music for the Lord.) Yes, I’m there so serve the band and the people, but my first calling is to make music for the Lord. I immediately felt spiritually recalibrated. As the band launched into the songs the flow of worship seemed to be stronger, and everyone responded with more passion.
The other issues were not fully resolved. It was better I guess… or maybe I just didn’t focus on the negative as much. Either way, it didn’t seem to matter. I just had the feeling of jumping off of a cliff into a perfect swimming hole. The presence of the Lord does that to me. I hope you feel that when you are worshipping too. I was still working hard to focus on the music and deal with some of the technical distractions. Just because I was having a good time in the presence of the Lord does not mean that I neglected the job I had to do. But being focused on the Lord and sensing His nearness gave me strength and determination to overcome them.