the baby and the bathwater

December 5, 2007, 12:34 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

if: when or whenever

If you can keep going with what God intends for you, always doing the small thing well, even when all your peers are moving from one big conference to the next;

If you can love your congregation when they are driving you to distraction with their un-responsiveness and consumeristic tendencies;

If you can continue to serve week in week out, year in year out, in your own local church without ever seeking the big gig;

If you can hear critisism of your very best efforts but not critisise back;

If you can be used greatly by God and never take the opportunity to brag;

If you can accept that some people will always be jealous of your gifting and try and bring you down;

If you can hold lightly onto your anointing, and use every song that God gives you to serve Him and not yourself;

If you can persevere through the times that ‘god doesn’t seem to show up’ and not be conceited when ‘god does show up’;

If you can put as much energy into living the life as you do into singing the songs;

If you can bounce back with enthusiasm when you are let down badly by people who should know better;

If you are not afraid to take risks and push boundaries and not be worried about looking a fool;

If you are not afraid to move on from every failure without losing enthusiasm, and without ever complaining;

If you are prepared to bear your heart and soul before people and keep going when your best efforts are thrown back in your face;

If you are prepared to stand up and serve people even in that moment when you feel you have absolutely nothing left to give;

If you can lay your ambitions down for the sake of serving your congregation, and never let success go to your head,

If you treasure the approval of God far above the content of public opinion, and consider it ‘job done’ when those you have served can’t even remember your name;

Then, my friend, you will be a worship leader.


11 Comments so far
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.. . .mmn .. .

Comment by naomi

what do you mean by ‘……mmmm….’?

Comment by Neil Bennetts

Not sure this one hits the mark.

Comment by Anonymous


Comment by Neil Bennetts

and who are you?

Comment by Neil Bennetts

Sorry, that was me (andy), for some reason it went anonymous. Two points as far as I can see.

1) No-one will ever achieve this list as it is so perfect so it is more discouraging than encouraging.


2) It could be read as ‘big up-ing’ worship leaders…in the sense that us worship leaders are like this and you non worship leaders are not.

Anyway, just my thoughts…

Comment by Andy

can see your point…it could easily be interpreted that way. For that reason I may have to re-think a little….


The post was (clearly) inspired by the famous Kipling poem of the same name (but of course mine is of far inferior quality of writing). Kipling’s ‘If’ was, so I understand, written when a particular solider failed catastrophically on the battlefield, which in those days meant he was not a real man any more. ‘If’, then, was subversive in the way that it challenged the widely held view of the day – that you proved your manhood by your success in battle.

The intention of my ‘If’ was similar in intention: to challenge the conventionally held view of what ‘success’ as a worship leader looks like: i.e. success = I write some songs, I get invited to loads of big conferences, I make an album, sell tonnes of them and then get a ‘dove award’ for all my efforts.

When actually success as a worship leader, in my view, is actually very different. It’s more often than not a combination of service in the hidden place, continually falling flat on your face, taking tonnes of flack. (Oh Yes….it does happen!).

I certainly wasn’t intending to give the impression that if you are ‘this good’ you may ‘qualify’ as a worship leader. Absolutely not. It was really trying to say: get real about what a being a worship leader is about.

As I say, I may have not got it quite right! So if version 2 appears in the following months don’t be surprised!

Oncer again your comments are honest and valued!

Comment by Neil Bennetts

Neil – I love what you write…always makes me think. Keep at it…you have set a consistently high standard…quality blogging from a quality worship leader.

Comment by Andy

If I can add something from someone who’s not a worship leader …

I can see where Andy is coming from, but I personally didn’t feel Neil was “up-ing” worship leaders as better or more important than the rest of us. We are a body. “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body.”

Neil is a worship leader. Some of what he writes in this blog is about Jesus, or about worship generally, and those things are relevant to me. Some of what he writes is about leading worship, and that’s less relevant, but still interesting.

The hands and the feet can talk together about blood supply and muscles and tendons and nerves and stuff, but sometimes the hands will need to talk about picking things up. The feet will think “that’s not my thing”, and that’s OK. The feet can talk to each other about weight bearing some other time.

Also, the perfection thing didn’t bother me either, partly because I’m familiar with Kipling’s poem which is similarly unattainable, and partly because I saw it as part of the tension that there always is in the Christian walk. God’s word says “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” and yet “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

And finally, I totally agree with what Andy says about the standard of this blog, and the way it always makes me think. Thanks Neil, and keep going.

Comment by Ruth

Really refreshing post. I see what’s being said about unattainability – none of us can do anything except for the grace of God! – but I love that this cuts under the sinful tendancies that lurk around the worship leader and directs us towards what God is interested in instead.

Comment by thebluefish

Mr Bluefish

You are right! I probably ought to have underpinned all of this with grace. The danger, possibly though, is that we use ‘grace’ as an excuse for not trying to making good decisions about what we do.

Your comments are appreciated!


Comment by Neil Bennetts

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