Why, if two or more of us are seeking the heart of the Lord for a particular service, do we come up with completely different songs? Is one of us not hearing from God?
This question has caused a great deal of confusion and even division among those involved in leading praise and worship.
Let’s start a basic understanding of how the Lord speaks through people. He will ordinarily work within your personality when speaking through you. Your past experience and present knowledge and circumstances will help determine how God works through you. Even Scripture shows this to be true. Matthew’s account of Jesus’ life differs in style from the writings of John but both are the inspired Word of God. If God actually spoke it, shouldn’t they all sound alike? No. The Lord uses our vocabulary and understanding when speaking through us. He uses even the experiences that have shaped our lives when working through us.
This is even true when seeking God for what songs to use during worship. A song that is ideal for one leader of worship in a given situation may not be appropriate for someone else’s style of leading. This second worship leader may have a song better suited to him that will accomplish the same thing.
Each person has different musical tastes and will lean toward songs that speak personally to their heart. This means we need to be careful not to overdo our personal likes or dislikes and keep a balanced approach to song selection for a given time of worship. The converse of this is also true and needs to be understood: a worship leader is not expected to totally step out of his personality to the point of sacrificing his heart’s drive in pursuing and worshiping God.
A good example of this is the way a church will take on, at least in a measure, the tastes and personality of their pastor. Leading worship is much the same. After a time, the music department and its functions will be generally influenced by the primary leader.
Several years ago, while still in the early stages of learning about worship leading, the man who I was learning from gave me an “assignment.” After prayer together with him and others involved in a given worship service, he asked me to list the songs that I would use if I was leading. He did the same and then we compared lists. Out of lists that each contained about ten songs, there were three that were the same.
We discussed the lists and agreed that neither was more “correct” than the other but each list was appropriate for the one who made it. Each would have accomplished the same thing. Our lists were different because we each had a distinct style and personality as a worship leader.
As a side note, I realized a few years later that even having only three songs out of ten that were the same was actually a pretty high percentage. I attribute it to my having learned so much from him: his style and personality had “rubbed off” on me.
Having differing song lists is not necessarily a sign that one of you is not hearing from the Lord. If all of the “basics” are in order and you are both seeking God from a pure heart, it simply comes down to the method that God has chosen to interact with people. Don’t panic or become uncertain…you are His sheep and He has promised that His sheep hear His voice (John 10:27).