Back in the mid-90’s I regularly attended an annual Christian Music Festival called “Kingdom Bound”. Held at Six Flags in Darrien Lake, New York, Kingdom Bound was the place to be every summer if you wanted to catch a bunch of CCM talent all in one spot. Many of us from our youth group would make the trek down from Canada and camp in tents at the adjacent campground. We’d spend some of our time riding rollercoasters (anyone remember Superman Ride of Steel?) pausing throughout the day and evening to catch different live performances. I would often find myself hanging around the Integrity Music Worship Tent. It was here that I first heard worship leader, Randy Rothwell.
The thing that stood out to me about Randy’s platform leadership was his honesty and sincerity. He was part of the stable of Integrity artists in the early 90’s that ushered in “acoustic worship”. Prior to the 90’s, the worship vibe was far more keyboard driven. It was under Randy’s leadership that I first heard a song that he’s well known for, “Be Magnified” written by the legendary Lynn DeShazo. As part of an ongoing project I’m doing to chronicle the history of Integrity’s Hosanna! Music on their 40th anniversary, I had the pleasure of interviewing Randy.
About halfway through our interview, Randy shared a helpful analogy he originally heard from Gerrit Gustafson, one of the original members of the Creative Team that founded Integrity Music. He said, worship leaders are butlers. Now I don’t know what you think of when you hear the word “butler”. My mind immediate thinks of Geoffrey or “G” (as Will Smith called him) from The Fresh Prince of Bel-air. I eagerly awaited for Randy to explain how the role of a worship leader is like a butler. What he shared was incredibly insightful. Consider the following parallels:
Butlers greet guests at the door. Effective Worship leaders greet people at the top of a service.
Butler’s know guests have not come to see them. Effective Worship leaders know the church has not gathered to hear them sing.
Butler’s have well-honed emotional intelligence and are able to read the room. Effective Worship leaders read the rooms they lead and are sensitive to the Spirit’s work.
Butler’s show guests where to hang their hat and help them gain familiarity with their surroundings. Effective Worship leaders lead familiar songs off the top that help people enter and engage quickly.
Butler’s serve guests something thoughtful to eat or drink. Effective Worship leaders serve the church with a thoughtful diet of music and expression.
Butler’s are dressed to the nines, organized, well-prepared and intentional. Effective Worship leaders bring their a-game and resolve themselves to being excellent.
Butler’s have an intimate knowledge of the master of the house, his desires and preferences. Effective Worship leaders have an intimate knowledge of God through His Word, His desires and preferences.
Butler’s show off the master’s house, noting his belongings, achievements and accolades. Effective Worship leaders make much of Jesus noting his belongings, achievements and accolades.
Butler’s ultimately take guests to see the master of the house before fading out of the picture. Effective Worship leaders use their gifts to point people to Jesus, letting Him alone take center stage.
We need more butlers in the church.
We live in a day and age where creatives in the church volley to have platforms as a means to express themselves and build their kingdoms. In efforts to put our imprint on things we usurp the Almighty and worship the created, instead of the creator. Our hearts our idol-making factories that consistently need to be condemned if Christ is to have His rightful place in our lives and in His church.
The greatest tragedy any worship leader can face is that those who come into proximity to them and their ministry would walk away only talking about how talented they are.
There’s no greater failure a worship leader can experience.
I want those who come into proximity to any ministry I am involve in to walk way shouting how GREAT God is. I want the words of the apostle John, “He must increase and I must decrease” to be the testimony of my thoughts, the message of my ministry and the legacy of my life.
It’s time for us worship leaders to put down our musical dreams and desires and pick up a waiter’s cloth, hang it over our arm and serve the people in front of us.
We need more butlers in the church.
This blog derived from an analogy Randy Rothwell shares in my interview with him. You can check out the full, intensive interview below. It’s a deep dive into Randy’s heart as a worship leader while covering the four best-selling live worship projects he recorded in Integrity’s Hosanna! Music series.