5 ways in which we unintentionally make worship about ourselves
Whether you’ve said it or heard someone else say it, “I wasn’t really into the worship this morning” is definitely something you’re familiar with.
Perhaps you have had a negative experience at worship, or you know someone who has.
But when did worship become being about what we like and what we go through?
Our North American society has equated worship with church music and the act of singing. Worship, on the other hand, centers on God’s worth, the exaltation of His name, and the submission and loyalty of God’s people to the omnipotent God who created and sustains them. Oftentimes, rather of viewing the situation from God’s perspective and considering what He deserves from us, we human beings tend to approach the matter as if it were all about ourselves and our right to a certain experience.
The following are only five examples of how we might unintentionally make worship about ourselves, and suggestions for redirecting that attention where it belongs:
1. Worship is more of an extra activity at our church than a way of life for us.
The act of worship is not limited to a religious ceremony or to musical performance. And it’s not something we can just do if we feel like it; it’s a demand and the natural outgrowth of the fact that we belong to Him.
A man I knew once called his church’s worship time “the previews.” The opening prayer, praise/worship, Scripture reading, and collection of the offering were all things he often skipped since, in his mind, these were just “previews” before the “real event,” which he considered to be the sermon. Worship in a collective setting also involves other elements such as prayer, the proclamation of God’s Word, and the presentation of our sacrifices to God. According to Acts 2:42, the Christian church was established via four aspects that might be termed collective worship: authoritative preaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer.
There’s more to worship than just singing together. A way of life dedicated to glorifying God. And it’s not just something we do on weekends; we do it every day of the week. Throughout the Bible, worship is defined as:
- giving Him the praise that is rightfully His (Psalm 29:2)
- showing reverence for Him as our Creator by submitting to Him on bended knee (Psalm 95:6)
- recognizing Him as the Supreme Being (Psalm 99:9)
affirming Jesus’ divine lineage and status as God’s Son (Matthew 14:33)
As a spiritual act of worship, you are to offer your bodies “as a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God” (Romans 12:1)
- boasting in Christ Jesus and not in human ability (Philippians 3:3)
- always being thankful, always praying, and always rejoicing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Kristi Foss, a seasoned worship leader, has observed that many Christians wrongly assume they are exempt from participating in worship because they don’t regard themselves as a singer.
Foss argued that the singing of hymns was irrelevant to worship. The tune or genre of music is irrelevant. God encourages us to make singing and worshiping our way of life. He never asked us first if we thought we had a decent voice before issuing that summons and order. What doesn’t matter is the quality of our singing or even that we sing. It’s about returning some of the blessings He bestowed upon us.
Accordingly, anything we do with complete devotion to God is worship (Colossians 3:23). Giving your best to God in whatever you do is a sort of worship, whether you’re a writer, painter, teacher, dancer, investigator, housekeeper, babysitter, cashier, singer, or any other kind of worker.
2. We only take part in worship services when we’re “in the mood.”
Have you ever seen other people “getting into” the worship, while you yourself were on the outside looking in? Possibly you were preoccupied with other things, or maybe you just weren’t feeling it. Perhaps you felt obligated to attend worship and did so, only to have regrets about your insincerity.
Thoughts like, “I have to be in the mood for worship,” are just one more way that we make worship about us and what we want. God is an individual. Through the indwelling Holy Spirit, Christ is always present with those who follow Him. And the instant we realize it (which should be with every breath in our lungs and with every beat of our hearts), our answer is to bow before His holiness and declare Him as God, regardless of our mood or the state of our circumstances.
Angels covered their faces and feet while soaring above the Lord in Isaiah’s vision of Him, and they proclaimed, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of armies” (Isaiah 6:3). His splendor fills the entire planet (Isaiah 6:1-4 NASB). The worship caused the temple’s thresholds to tremble and fill with smoke.
Seeing the Lord in all His splendour brought home to Isaiah how flawed he was as a sinful person in the presence of the Holy God. The more we learn about God, the more we understand how little and insignificant we are in comparison to Him. Being aware of God’s greatness inspires worship.
3. We force our personal tastes into the concept of worship.
If you’ve ever thought, “Worship is about me and what I like and whether or not I want to participate,” then you’ve been saying, “I didn’t enjoy the worship this morning” or “I prefer the worship at that other church.”
If we don’t feel like we worshiped well, if our expectations weren’t met, or if the atmosphere wasn’t “worshipful enough,” we may even place the blame on others or a certain musical style or worship leader. Like our thoughts and knowledge even count. Instead of trying to figure out how to worship God, we should be asking Him what He values most.
In John 14:23, Jesus advised a Samaritan woman that the location of a worship service was not as important as the manner in which it was conducted. And He was not referring to the music’s tempo, its lyrical content, the presence or absence of percussion, or its year of composition. According to him, “the Father seeks for worshipers who would worship Him in spirit and truth” (John 14:23 NASB).
When we come before the King of kings in individual or collective worship, our hearts and motivations must be pure, and we must recognize that it is God’s Spirit abiding within us that compels us to worship and equips us to obey. In turn, this necessitates giving up everything we are and have in exchange for His infinite greatness. After all, surrendering means telling God, “Your will, not mine,” and that includes giving up our personal preferences in how we worship.
4. Rather than a sacrifice to God, we see it as a learning opportunity.
Foss reflects back on the time when she and the rest of the band discussed how to best organize their church’s worship act. One of the musicians on the team expressed concern that the shift may detract from the atmosphere of worship they were aiming to establish.
Foss noticed for the first time that folks involved in conducting worship often assume they are accountable for shaping the way congregants interact with God. However, even it is once again reflective of our experience.
“When we start focusing about the worship experience and what we do to get people interested, a worship leader or a member of a band might lose sight of what worship actually means,” Foss said. I sometimes wonder, “When did it become our role as worship leaders to persuade people to encounter God or engage in worship?”
When you place the onus of inspiring enthusiasm and motivation on an individual or group, you’re essentially saying that those individuals must exist. But do we want them to be enthralled by a certain tune, emotion, church, charismatic leader, or style of leadership? Why do we require someone else to put us in a state of “worship”? When our attention is not on God, it is on ourselves or other people. That certainly isn’t an act of worship, though.
One of the current trends among church worship teams is an emphasis on making worship “relevant,” or tailored to the tastes and interests of the congregation. This can lead to the mistaken belief that the service is meant to be an expression of our personal connection with God rather than a communal experience. Worship, however, is once again about God and what He gains from us. If you want to adore your Creator and Lord, don’t rely on external factors to create an atmosphere of worship, but rather make sure your heart is appropriately prepared.
5. We fail to remember that worship is a humbling experience.
All of the accounts in Scripture of people worshiping God or being in His presence describe a sense of awe and dread. Being “as one who is dead” (falling to one’s knees or hands) is one way to show how deeply moved one is by the realization of one’s sin and insignificance in the presence of the Holy, Perfect, and Righteous One.
Once again, the prophet Isaiah exclaimed, “Woe to me, for I am wrecked!” after beholding God in all His majesty. For my lips are dirty, and I dwell in the midst of a people with unclean lips; for my eyes have beheld the King, the Lord of armies (Isaiah 6:4 NASB). The focus of true worship was on:
realizing that God is God on the throne and that we are the ones who are subject to Him; acknowledging one’s own sin and imperfection in the presence of the Holy One.
According to Luke 7:36-38, a sinful woman entered Jesus’ presence and began to weep at His feet, pouring costly perfume over His head and wiping His feet with her hair. In the presence of the Holy One, she collapsed.
We can now approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, knowing that Christ’s death on the cross for our sins and His resurrection give us new life in Him (Hebrews 4:16). And yet, since He is God and we are not, we nonetheless hold Him in awe and respect for Who He is and what He has done.
When our worship fails to reflect our true state of awe and wonder before Him, we are only going through the motions and not truly appreciating the greatness of who He is. Never forget that He is God and you are not. Therefore, He is deserving of your highest adoration.
The question is how we can make worship more about Him and less about us. Adhere to the instructions given in Psalm 95:1-7.
1) Rejoice greatly before the Lord.
Step 2: Worship Him in His presence with thankfulness and praise.
Third, honor Him as the highest God and King of all gods.
4 ) Acknowledge the many universes that He has crafted.
5-Bow down and worship Him.
6) Bow down in worship to God.
7) Admit to yourself that He is your God, and that you and I are His sheep.