How to Find Favor in Worship Leadership
Every worship leader I know who has a heart for God longs for greater authority that comes when one knows that issues of personal integrity have been dealt with. There is an open heart of purity through which comes an unimpeded flow of grace. It is the place of Gods favor.
As always, spiritual authority is not an issue of attainment, but of attitude. Samuel and David jointly formed the first seriously effective government. The cooperation of the humble prophet and the worshipping king formed a union where, on one hand, the prophetic word "never fell to the ground," and on the other, the Spirit rested upon a leader and "never left him."
In a special way, worship leadership, in this same context, becomes an avenue of rich grace for the Christian church. Humble deference to and dependence upon each others spiritual giftings permits a unity of heart in which the Spirit is allowed to flow with rich blessing and favor.
The first book of Samuel opens with a record of character and kingdom development:
Barrenness is broken as Hannah intercedes for
Gods glory to be demonstrated by a blessing of fruitfulness.
Time to Make the Ears Tingle&ldots;
Despite the fact that Samuel had been anointed and appointed as the spiritual leader of Israel, there was a long process of dealing with the legacy of faulty leadership, and a nation that had long since deserted its calling as a people of God. The time had come for Gods word to Samuel to be fulfilled.
"And the Lord said to Samuel: See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family from beginning to end." (1 Samuel 3:11-12)
So began the end of Elis leadership. God determined that the time had come to bring restoration, but first there had to be reconstruction. For reconstruction to take place, there had be demolition. The influence of prevailing leadership attitudes and presumptions which were counter to the character of His kingdom had to be removed. The Eli leadership style was characterized by:
A lack of due respect for the sacred.
God used his favorite method of bringing discipline to His people: other people! In this case, they were heathen Philistines! Israel lost 30,000 men, including Elis two sons. Eli himself fell over when he heard the news, broke his neck, and died. Elis only legacy was a surviving grandson whose name announced "the glory has departed."
God Shows Up in a Strange Place
It is interesting to note that, besides speaking to Samuel, God was very quiet about everything until the ark was taken by the Philistines. Then all heaven broke loose! The idol Dagon fell on his face, and disintegrated (1 Sam. 5:4). Rats ran everywhere. The people developed cancer-like growths (1 Sam. 5:6).
The Philistines got the message that messing with Gods sacred stuff was not exactly healthy for them. So they did something that the Israelites had failed to do they cried out to God. And God did something that He hadnt done with the Israelites up to that point He heard them! But not until the sacred place was restored. Through all the disaster, the rats, and the tumors, the Philistines finally figured out that what belonged to the God of the Israelites, belonged to the God of the Israelites, and there was no other alternative. The ark went back to Israel.
It was now time for the Israelites to learn what the Philistines had learned. Ignorance and presumption with sacred things spell catastrophe.
God Shows Up Again in a Familiar Place
It is an incredibly ironic fact that lack of familiarity with God produces a disrespectful over-familiarity with God. For years, the people of Israel had had no real relationship with their God. The closest that most had seen was the weak impotence of Eli, and the blatant sacrilege perpetrated by his sons. Relationship with God was reduced to careless superstition. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was merely an option among similar gods. Until now.
"&ldots;But God struck down some of the men of Beth Shemesh, putting fifty thousand and seventy of them to death because they had looked into the ark of the Lord. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the LORD had dealt them, and the men of Beth Shemesh asked, Who can stand in the presence of the LORD, this holy God?" To whom will the ark go up from here?
Then they sent messengers to the people of Kiriath Jearim, saying, The Philistines have returned the ark of the LORD. Come down and take it up to your place. So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the LORD. They took it to Abinadabs house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the LORD" (1 Samuel 6:19 7:1).
It was a heavy blow. It took twenty years for them to recover (1 Sam. 7:2). I dont think it was just the fact that God got upset over ignorant and careless people peering into the ark (something they were forbidden to do). The issue was the nations lifestyle of idolatry and witchcraft (1 Sam. 7:3).
God would never show His favor or His glory while there was even a hint that somewhere in the land, some other demonic god might get the slightest credit. Deliverance could only come after a national agreement that God was the only true God (1 Sam. 7:3-4).
Restoration of Favor
Confession, intercession and supernatural intervention restore favor. When it really comes down to it, only God can initiate the process of releasing blessing and favor. There is a specific and certain sovereignty He exercises in the giving of favor. Before He bestows favor, however, certain conditions have to be met.
The first is that He must have an exclusive franchise on our worship and devotion. He will allow "no other gods" before Him.
1 Samuel 7 is an interesting chapter describing the sequence of events by which Israel was restored to Gods favor, delivered from its Philistine enemies, and blessed by a season of prosperity and peace:
All the people "mourned and sought after"
God (v. 2).
Restoring Authority to Worship Leadership
There is an awesome transition that one must make in comparing Old Testament examples to New Testament post-Pentecost reality. At incredible cost (the Cross) God released His blessing and authority in the Person and presence of His Spirit.
The Kingdom authority that Jesus demonstrated and gave away to His followers is the same type that was released to Samuel and David. These two men understood that God wanted heart relationship with Himself before he would bestow any authority. They both knew that it was God who owned the kingdom and the authority. For some reason, God loves to bestow authority on those who are not looking for it, but who are looking for Him out of desperate dependence and love.
Authority Is Gods Favor
Authority is an issue of Gods favor, and not an issue of meeting Gods needs. God does not really need us to administer anything on His behalf. He can do it really well on His own. He knows that what people need is not more authority, or more power, but more of Him. That thing that we like to term "authority" is not so much authority as it is His Presence. His Presence also carries His authority. His Presence brings favor.
Samuel found favor through faithful servant-hearted service to God in spiritually dry times. David found favor because he delighted in being alone with God, and in giving humble deference to Him in worship.
It was Gods favor on both these men that elevated them to exceptional positions of authority. That favor was continually given as both men faithfully served without claiming ownership of their authority.
Authoritative, anointed worship leadership is that leadership which carries with it the mark of Gods favor. Favor is that which is bestowed as one constantly seeks out the place of intimacy with Father God. Favor is that holy, anointed grace of His presence that one can never own or possess, control or administer. Favor is obtained by coming constantly to the place that David described in Psalm 132:2-9:
"I will not enter my house or go to my bed I will allow no sleep to my eyes, no slumber to my eyelids, till I find a place for the Lord, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob&ldots;" "Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool arise, O LORD, and come to your resting place, you and the ark of your might. May your priests be clothed with righteousness; may your saints sing for joy."
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