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Should Introverts Even Consider Leading Worship?
This is a topic that I have wondered about off and on since I started leading worship over 2 decades ago.
You might think that someone who gets on stage should be an extrovert so they can lead, interact, be emotive, and all those things we associate with public figures. And there are those kind of worship leaders, and they are great. But that personality is not a requirement for worship leaders at all.
In fact, as an introvert and a shy person, you may be a fantastic worship leader in many ways.
But I’m sure many would-be worship leaders have talked themselves out of pursuing this craft because they are a severe introvert. They can’t imagine themselves up in front of people, or worse, having to speak in front of them. But avoiding this call on your life could be a mistake.
I’m a severe introvert. And a worship leader. So I wanted to share this really important and sensitive topic with you in case you’re doubting whether you could ever do this.
And I want you to understand the depths of my introversion. You might be thinking that, no, I’m not really an introvert. How could an introvert be a worship leader and run this podcast. Surely, I’m not as much as an introvert as you.
Well I can say that I probably have everyone beat when it comes to introverision. In fact, when I take a personaliy test, I score 99% introverted and 1% extroverted. That’s my real result on a real personality test — not an exaggeration.
When I was an early teen to teenager, I would not talk to people in most situations. I just wouldn’t. I remember going on a motorcycle trip with my dad and we stayed at some friends of his. About the 2nd or 3rd day we were there, the woman asked me “do you talk”? To me, it was normal never to say a word. I said yeah I talked and proceeded to still say nothing the rest of our visit.
And I’m sure today I would have been diagnosed with something – some psychological condition. In front of some poeple, I just found it impossible to talk. I think the official diagnosis these days is selective mutism — not saying I had that, but it sure felt like it — and still does sometimes.
It’s not fun. I’ve always felt that something is disconnected between my mind and my mouth so nothing ever came out right. So the solution is “don’t talk.” And to this day if someone says I’m quiet I take it as the deepest insult anyone could ever give me.
In fact, that’s one reason I chose to start this podcast. I wanted to do something that was so far outside my skill set that it would force me to get better at speaking. You can probably tell at some points of the podcast that I’m not speaking clearly and trying to figure out how to communicate an idea. That goes back a long way.
And I’ve always thought the way I must be a mistake. God left something undone in me and now I’m left to bear the consequences. It’s just not fair.
And to this day I don’t like parties, unfamiliar people or abstract social situations. They’re just not for me.
But there’s a verse that counteracts those thoughts that God made a mistake. Paul talks about how God forms the potter’s clay any way he wants, and who are we to say he did something wrong or that he didn’t mean to do it?
God just creates us all different. Everything for a purpose. If everyone were extroverts, the world just could not get certain things done.
So now that you know you’re not a mistake, you should also know that being an introvert doesn’t disqualify you from leading worship. That’s all to say that you can and you shouldn’t let it stop you.
And there might even be advantages to you being an introverted worship leader. Here’s why you should lead worship even if you’re not outgoing.
1. God wants to use your weakness, not your strength
There are a lot of examples in the Bible of God using people that really shouldn’t have been able to do what they were doing.
I was reading the story of Gideon and any introverted worship leader should check it out. Gideon was the least in his family, and the family was the weakest in their clan. He was a nobody. To make matters worse, God removed almost his entire army until there were 300 left.
But Gideon still went on to perform one of the greatest victories in Israel’s history.
Also, David’s father almost forgot about him when Samuel came looking for a king. Samuel had to ask Jesse, “Is there anyone else?” David must have been nothing special.
God does not want us claiming credit for doing good things because of our natural talents.
Why does God use these kinds of people? Because he does not want us claiming credit for doing good things because of our natural talents.
He would rather have a job done worse than use someone who would do a fantastic job but claim all the credit. As introverted worship leaders, we really can’t claim credit for anything we do onstage. That place is just not natural for us.
So as an introvert, you are not going to be the most charasmatic person ever to grace a stage. When you speak between songs you’ll have to write it out and practice it at home 20 times just to not totally screw it up.
You won’t be very animated on stage and people will joke with you on how you should move and dance around more.
And yet you’ll have powerful worship times where peoples’ lives will change.
And yet you’ll have powerful worship times where peoples’ lives will change. You won’t know what’s happening or how you’re doing whatever you’re doing. That’s because God is doing it through you.
Remember that God wants the credit. So he’s using someone without the natural ability to lead people, be emotive and extroverted.
And I’m not saying that God’s going to change your personality. He’s not going to. I’m saying he will empower you to do things you can’t normally do, for a specific time while you’re doing it, then you’ll go back to being yourself — perhaps to your dismay.
We shouldn’t be surprised by this. When we act by our own power things just turn out badly. Remember when Peter was outside when Jesus was on trial before he was crucified? Peter couldn’t admit to a teenage girl that he was a follower of Jesus. Not much later, he was preaching and 3000 people believed in the man Peter had just denied.
So what’s going on here? In short, God can help you do anything that he calls you to do. Don’t neglect this calling because of self-doubt.
If you want to learn everything you need to know about starting to lead worship, check out my book, “How to Lead Worship in 14 Days.” It will guide you through the process of working up to your first worship session even if you’ve never led worship before. And the best part is that it’s going to take you 14 days to do it.
Or, if you lead a worship ministry and you’re looking for a how-to guide to hand every new worship leader, this book is for you.
2. Introverts are often hard, independent workers
You have to be a little introverted to put I the time to be excellent musically
Whether you play guitar, piano, or sing only, you might have to put in thousands of hours on your own to be proficient enough to lead worship well.
This was my experience. I didn’t play sports. While I had decent friends from church while in high school, hanging out socially was never a huge part of my life.
After a few hours hanging out with people I would be ready to reset at home.
What I did have the wiring to do was put in the monotonous hours of practice at piano in my teens. This proficiency helped me to improvise, play by ear and acquire all the skills it took to lead worship.
Not saying extroverts can’t do this, but introverts are specifically wired to get really good at things that require monotonous practice.
So with your musical skill built up, and God working through you to get up in front of people, it’s really a magical combination.
3. Introverts are good at deflecting credit
Like I said in the beginning, God likes it when he gets the glory for the work that he does in you.
And I think introverts are naturally good at deflecting credit and glory from themselves. They just don’t want the attention.
I’m not saying extroverts are glory-seekers, because all the extroverts I know are really humble people, too.
But introverts I think have a harder time accepting themselves. At least for me, I’ve always had low self-esteem. And I’m being totally vulnerable here, but I’ve always felt subpar, unimportant, and not measuring up.
Because of this, it’s not long after a great worship time or a big success that I start feeling subpar again. I guess that’s good and bad.
However, you have to watch yourself. For those of us who have had low self-esteem, you can accidentally use worship leading to make yourself feel important. So I think there’s a healthy balance of knowing that you’re valuable and simultaneously, any great thing you do is a result of God’s grace.
The Bottom Line
Here are 3 reasons introverts should pursue worship leading:
- God wants to use your weakness, not your strength.
- Introverts are good at the independent, monotonous work it takes to be a worship leader.
- Introverts are good at deflecting credit and (hopefully) pointing it toward God.
Learn To Lead Worship Better
Are you looking for a resource that will help you get started leading worship or improving your skills?
Check out the book “Learn To Lead Worship In 14 Days.” It’s a step-by-step, day-by-day handbook that can launch your worship leading journey in as little as two weeks.