“You’re doing wha-a-a-at?” (Then tilted head, squinty eyes and puzzled frown.)
When I told staff and coworkers that I was leaving our high-tech information security company to join a Christian worship company, this was the most frequent response I received. “You’re doing what?”
CCLI is actually farther from my old world than the east is from the west, or so it seems most days. The world of worship, international copyright management and the honoring of inspired creators has almost nothing in common with information security and cyber-defense technologies. When I say it out loud it seems a little crazy. It’s hard to get other people to hear the calling that seems to be meant for you, and it’s usually impossible to translate.
In those days I stumbled through a lot of explanations like “It’s where my heart is” or “I have a passion for it.” But these answers all left huge gaps.
I spent my fifth week as CCLI’s chief marketing officer in Eastbourne, England, on my first visit to our European offices. In the pre-dawn dark of my first day, just an hour or so before I was to go meet the UK team, I received an email that answered the “Why I’m here” question with surprising clarity. It was from someone I’ve known in my local church for many years, and was addressed to a handful of us on the worship team:
I meant to send you all a little note last Sunday, but the week slipped by and I forgot about it until today. You all know that my dad is in the late stages of dementia. He rarely speaks, and when he does it almost never makes sense.
But when you all led us in “Amazing Grace” last week, I heard my dad quietly and clearly sing every word of the first verse. It was truly a moment of grace, both for him, and for me. Thank you for your hand in that!
I read this email and listened to the wind and rain batter on the old hotel windows and thought, “Well, there it is.”
Worship, I believe to my core, is imbued with the power to soothe, heal and redeem. It’s not miraculous in and of itself, but it reaches us when we can’t be reached. It speaks to us when we can’t understand anything else. And sometimes it speaks for us when we’re unable to speak.
We worship for many reasons. We worship to acknowledge the sovereignty of the great I Am over all other things in our lives. We worship to surrender, to focus solely—if only for a short time—on the Living God. To help us enter a presence that is always waiting for us. We worship to give thanks.
What flows out of our appreciation and thanks is nothing less than Grace. It’s not all that Grace is, to be sure, but it’s a glimpse of it. And sometimes that’s enough.
Creating world-class information security products in a shaky, insecure world was rewarding and demanding work and I enjoyed it. But helping people find and know God and enter His presence through worship… that’s something else entirely different. That’s why I’m here.
Do you have a story about why you lead worship? Leave a comment and share it with us. And for far better descriptions of “What worship is” and “Why we do it” than any of us might be able to provide, look here: