10 signs you're a worship-leading pharisee

February 7, 2018

Scripture classifies the Pharisees as the strictest of all the Jewish religious sects. Literally set apart from others, they clung to their laws and traditions even at the expense of God’s law. Jesus rebuked them numerous times for their hypocrisy, pretension and self-righteousness.

It’s easy as worship leaders to fall into that same trap of sanctimonious arrogance. We can lead from the impression that we alone have the ability and even right to be the sole proprietors of worship. When this pretentiousness occurs we care more about elevating ourselves and our own agendas than helping others in spirit and truth worship.

It’s true that worship leaders are usually the most talented in the room, so it’s always a challenge to be both upfront and unassuming. But if in the name of excellence or musical purity we start suggesting that what we lead and the style in which we lead it is the only tenable option, then we too can slide into Phariseeism.

Thomas Merton wrote in his book, New Seeds of Contemplation, “When humility delivers a man from attachment to his own works and his own reputation, he discovers that perfect joy is possible only when we have completely forgotten ourselves. And it is only when we pay no more attention to our own deeds and our own reputation and our own excellence that we are at last completely free to serve God in perfection for His sake alone.”

“When humility delivers a man from attachment to his own works and his own reputation, he discovers that perfect joy is possible only when we have completely forgotten ourselves. And it is only when we pay no more attention to our own deeds and our own reputation and our own excellence that we are at last completely free to serve God in perfection for His sake alone.”

10 Signs You’re A Worship Leading Pharisee

  1. Worship service selections are determined by your favorite style instead of biblical and theological content. (Mark 7:9)
  2. You disappear when it’s time to set up or tear down. (Matt 23:4)
  3. You lead “Your praise will ever be on my lips” in the service and then berate the tech team after the service. (Matt 15:8)
  4. Your audience is not an audience of One. (John 12:43)
  5. You accuse any ministry more successful than yours as being stylistically superficial, musically adulterated or theologically shallow. (Matt 12:24).
  6. You canonize or criticize either hymns or modern worship songs. (Matt 21:15)
  7. You measure your level of artistry and spirituality against others. (Matt 12:2)
  8. You’ve made dressing up or dressing down a worship prerequisite. (Matt 23:5)
  9. You’ve created the false dichotomy that if your style is virtuous, then theirs can’t be. (Luke 18:11)
  10. Your mic must be a little hotter and your spot a little brighter than all others. (Matt. 23:6)

by David Manner  /  Associate Executive Director  /  Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists

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