Did you ever experience the struggle of showing off while playing music? Have you ever experienced the "look-at-me-I-can-play-my-instrument-just-like-or-better-than" attitude? How do you cope with this?

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Is this in reference to yourself, other peers on your team, others on a team you are leading, or those on a team you are following in worship?
Hi Pete, the team I am following in worship.
This may be a different thread topic, but I seem to experience a slightly different problem. This is the "I-will-try-to-be-as-good-as-the-original-artist-by-imitating-but-oops-I-just-screwed-up-that-tricky-riff-solo-or-drum-beat". And I am mainly talking about myself :-)
Hmm.... I find I react to this differently in different situations. If I am attending a worship service and an electric guitar player is physically in the background adding lots of little fills here and there it really enhances things. If there is a small instrumental break where he plays a solo I tend to enjoy that IF he physically remains in the background on stage and doesn't start posing or posturing. If it's a hot set of licks with minimal physical effort to draw attention and it's not too long I like it. Then again electric guitar was my first instrument when I started in music. If it is too showy, prolonged, or tries to dominate the rest of the song then I tune out. As for on my own team I inherited an extremely talented musician that played keyboards most of the time. I had to talk to him a number of times because he was so good he would showboat his way through almost every song. We kept talking about why he was playing, for the glory of performing for a crowd or in service to lead God's people in worship. In the end he acknowledge it was not spiritual but personal glory and he left. We still talk and he is working on getting his life right with God before coming back. So, if it's someone you have control over or a relationship with you could talk to them about it. If you are attending a worship service then I don't know what you can do. In my past I just kept visiting churches until I found one that was a good fit for me. I see you are a pastor so that probably isn't an option.
What about the opposite, where someone on the team has real talent, but rarely show it? They just play the right chords at the right time and stay in the background. Are they withholding a blessing from the congregation or are they being humble or are they overreacting to "that attitude of showing off"?

Two of our guitarists really have to be prodded/encouraged to let it out. It's great when they do, but happens rarely.
"What about the opposite, where someone on the team has real talent, but rarely show it? They just play the right chords at the right time and stay in the background. Are they withholding a blessing from the congregation or are they being humble or are they overreacting to "that attitude of showing off"?"

Well, I am just being humble. That's me, handsome, intelligent and humble.

You were talking about ME, right, Dale? :)

OK, on to the serious stuff. It is my personal belief that if a worship musician does his/her job right, all the attention goes to God and the musician just kinda fades into the background. I believe in this so much that it became the core concept of my book, the Invisible Worship Musician.

I do struggle to keep from playing irrelevant notes. They usually arise from not trusting God to take care of the worship and me trying to exert some control of the process. I've learned how futile it is so that helps. But newbies really have to be taught their role, what worship music is supposed to be like and how to get out of the congregation's way.
Hah, I think we all run into this from time to time...I just keep telling myself "I'm not good enough to be arrogant", and that usually takes the edge off it. :)


Wish I was good enough to show off! :o)
Ok, let's get back on topic. :)

I personally believe that people are fundamentally the same, so what works for worship music (not for showing off) is going to be pretty much the same for people across the world. With that in mind, it's very easy for me to see when people are showing off. And I'll explain to them why what they just played isn't going to work for the congregation.

Of course, to prevent all these problems in the first place, I have a list of musical requirements for people who wish to participate in the worship team. All of these requirements are based on the belief that there are some things that will work pretty much all the time and things that are unlikely to work. When you make these requirements obvious, you can forestall show-offs from joining the team. And save yourself loads of grief. :)
Hi Ruben,

I think that a missing part of this equation really involves a heart issue, and those are things that are better dealt with in real relationships. Sometimes a practical framework is required - like Junjie's requirements for worship team members in his church. Either way, this sounds like more of a heart issue than a musical issue. Anyone with any gift that is 'public' is vulnerable to this (even those who do the prayer for the communion, offering, etc...). Any public expression can turn into a show, even when it should not.

To answer your direct question I have struggled with this before, on both ends. When in your position, the first question that I ask myself is why I noticed it in the first place. Sometimes the Lord is alerting me to something else - sometimes it is to pray for my fellow musician, sometimes it is to be more sensitive myself to where the Holy Spirit is leading (because I am missing it). More often than not such things are pointing out something about me than about them.

Sometimes this is actually a tactic to steal my joy and prevent me from getting into worship - the team's actions are in line and my perception is actually flawed. I know that I am often in a mode where I size up other bands/musicians naturally, and it is difficult to turn that instinct off and just love them and allow them to worship being just who they are. This is an area where I, as a musician, can be weak. Ah, but my human-ness is showing...

Long term (outside of the service), I seriously pray about it. Short term (during worship), I go ahead and worship anyway and ask Jesus to handle my thoughts. (When it is meant to steal my joy, I usually do not even remember that it bugged me.) From a leadership/administration standpoint, our church has a covenant that the worship team takes very seriously with leaders that hold them accountable to that covenant.

I did not intend to be so long-winded! : )
It's easy to say that things boil down to the heart. It's like saying that the only REAL problems we have in church are with people. It's true, but not specific enough for us to do something concrete about it.

Now that we're talking about the heart, I believe there are three main heart areas for those in worship ministry to watch out for:

1) Condemnation - the accuser has a field day with some of our people, trying to make them as if the sacrifice of Christ is insufficient and they have to add something into the mix to make their praises more acceptable to God. If this is not dealt with people burn out spiritually from the demands of worship ministry.

2) Control - not willing to let the worship just happen. As I mentioned before, if I don't believe it will just happen without me anointing myself to play more (you get what I mean) then I'll start doing things that will look like I'm showing off.

3) Sense of superiority - I personally refer to this as the Nicolaitan spirit. It's the idea that we in worship ministry have a special channel to God, something that the common rabble are not privy to. And that excuses our lack of love in choosing our notes to serve them as well as the assumption that they OWE us their appreciation for our 'service' and our talents.

These are the three areas I believe people in worship ministry have to watch out for.

Anyone want to chime in with anything I missed? :)


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