Give Me An ‘S’

Give Me An ‘S’
By Joe Pace

When I think of the preparation of a worship leader, I generally think of four words that begin with the letter “5”: Sanctification, Submission, Sensitivity, and Skill. In this chapter, we win look at each of these words and how they pertain to the preparation of worship leaders.


The Greek word for sanctification is hagiasmos, which means separation or setting apart. In Hebrew the word is qodesh, which has a similar meaning that denotes “a separation from the secular and sinful and setting apart for a sacred purpose.” The meaning is relatively the same in the English language as well.

Now we must examine what it means to be set apart for a sacred use. In chapter three, we came to understand the origin of the Levitical priesthood and position within the temple. It was very clear that one of the first things God did was to sanctify them for service in the Tent of Meetings, or the House of God as we would refer to it today. That prescribed order of sanctification, or the setting apart, is still important for us to realize today. Anyone involved with ministry must be aware of the prerequisite of sanctification. There is a level of sanctification that God will perform, but there is also an ongoing process of sanctification we must complete as we lead people into the presence of God.

Do you really believe that God wants you to lead His people into His presence if you are entangled with things that He has no part of? Is it really fair to say that God is accepting worship from you when you aren’t separate from the secular and sinful? This is not an observation of judgment; it is simply intended to clarify the privileges and prerequisites established by God to make sure that you and I accept the position of worship leader with a complete and correct understanding of the sacredness of such a call and regard it with proper understanding and appreciation.

“Now may the very God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thessalonians 5:23 NKJV)

Worship leaders have a responsibility to keep themselves in a position that is set apart for the purpose of leading people into the presence of a Holy God. We should not take this issue lightly. If we made this area a fundamental priority, I believe we would see God move more powerfully and more often in our churches today.

Remember Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.� Most people would limit their thinking and context of this scripture to sexual sins, but the term my body is not limited to a sexual activity of sin. We can infer this because Paul was a eunuch, which meant sex was not his issue at all. Maybe lying was his issue. Maybe it was strife or anger. Maybe he was a thief. Who knows? However, he was very frank in expressing the fact that although he was the leader, the preacher, and the one who was jailed for the cause of Christ, that he had to keep his body, mind, will, and emotions in check because he had some issues to deal with.

�And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh�� (2 Corinthians 12:7)

Paul was a perfect example that there is something in each of us that can present a challenge whether we want to admit it or not. The key is staying on top of it and making sure that it does not allow us to be moved from our sacred call.

The biggest deceit where music ministry and worship leaders are concerned is the deception that says just because you continue to function in a position means that God is accepting your worship. Saul was an excellent example of a person rejected by God, yet who was still going through the motions of worship.

�Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.� But Samuel said to him, �I will not go back with you. You have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you as king over Israel!� Saul replied, �I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.� So Samuel went back with Saul, and Saul worshiped the Lord.� (1Samuel 15:25-26, 30-31 NIV)

This is not a place in which worship leaders should find themselves. This is why at the core of our lives, we must have a sincere relationship with the Father. A personal relationship would prevent this kind of fiasco from ever being birthed in our lives. Always honor the sanctification that God has deliberately placed on your life. It is precious and must be guarded. The understanding of sanctification will move you into the grace of submission.


Submission is the act of submitting or surrendering to the power of another; the quality or state of carrying out the wishes of others (obedience and surrender). This is a rather simple explanation of what God is looking for out of you as a worship leader-obedience and surrender. We have previously discussed the leadership aspects of working with and submitting to the authority of the visionary of the house of worship. But some things can never be conveyed enough.

Make sure your heart is submitting to the leadership and pastor of the church. Make it a priority to be clear on the vision and direction of the congregation. Once you are clear
make sure you flow with that vision, even if you have another agenda in mind. The blessing will come with your surrender to the wishes and desires of the leadership God has placed over you. If the pastor asks for a specific song to be sung, then sing that song.

I know you’re thinking, “I already had my songs picked.” That’s great. Use them next week. But you are obligated to be obedient to the request that was given to you. That, my friends, is the art of submission, which includes surrendering your agenda to follow the agenda of another and displaying the obedience to carry out what is asked of you regardless of your opinion.

The same two thoughts apply when it pertains to the Holy Spirit. Your level of submission is crucial because it is a mirror of your sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit tells you to do something, will you surrender and obey? Or, will you behave in the same way in which you responded when the pastor wanted you to change the songs you had planned?


Sensitivity is defined from a negative and positive sense. It can mean to be easily offended or touchy (negative), or it means a capability to perceive (positive). In this case, we are referring to the capability to perceive.

�But when he the spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his won; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.� (John 16:13 NIV)

Understanding the function of the Holy Spirit is vital to your receiving instruction and direction from Him. He was sent to tell you what the Father knows and desires of you. He is able to tell you what pleases the Father, and for a worship leader, this is the ultimate goal.

A sensitivity to the move of the Holy Spirit will only be developed as you spend time with the Lord and obey the leading of the Holy Spirit in other areas of your life. Even the smallest instruction obeyed as conveyed by the Holy Spirit is an exercise in sensitivity, which will benefit you many, many times over once your spirit is fully equipped to hear and obey what it hears in the spirit realm.

I must admit, that maturity in this area takes some time, but if your heart is in a place where you sincerely want to hear from the Father, especially as it pertains to the level of ministry He wants you to provide, I assure you, He will make His wishes known to you. His desire is to feed you with His heart directly from the throne of God so that His people will manifest and return to Him His level of worship.

Always wait on direction from the Holy Spirit. It will save you time and will cause you to be effective in your ministry as a worship leader. A quick way to summon the Holy Spirit is…. you guessed it-worship! So, if you worship in your private time, it will cause you to be sensitive to His leading in your public time.


Skill is proficiency (progressive in an area of learning, vocation or art) or dexterity.

In this section, we will briefly discuss the components of building your skill level and the importance of giving attention to the amount of time you spend practicing, rehearsing, and developing your gifts and abilities.

You must understand two things. First, gifting does not supercede practice and work. “Study to show yourselves approved unto to God …� (2 Timothy 2:15). This applies to the music ministry gifts and oratorical gifts, such as teaching and preaching. We are responsible for refining our gifts. As a matter of fact, when God sees you taking the extra effort to perfect the gifts that He has given to you, I believe you are a candidate to receive additional gifts and additional manifestations of creativity and skill.

��you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things�.� (Matthew 25:23 NKJV)

Second, you must PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. You cannot just continue to skip through the tulips and not spend the necessary time it takes to make the music and songs you render to the Lord perfect. In order to convey to others the importance of practice you must have a strong work ethic. For the purpose of this book, this is a subject that needs to be incorporated into another area of discussion, but I encourage you to ask yourself one question: Do you want the surgeon who has performed the same procedure 10 times or 100 times to operate on you? Why? It goes without saying that practice makes perfect! Then the question is does God deserve a perfect praise?

According to 1 Chronicles 15: 22, “And Chenaniah, chief of the Levites, was for song: he instructed about the song, because he was skilfull.” Chenaniah held this responsibility not because he was related to the pastor or because he had a “good heart”; it was because he was skillful. In the church we are often intimidated by this word; however, we should not be. Often times, the choir becomes the “catch-all” ministry in the church.

When we’re really not sure where people should serve, well, there’s always the choir! I’ve taught in many places, and just mentioning the word /I audition” makes everyone so quiet that you could hear a pin drop! Audition? In the church? I hope so. Let’s look at the logic for a moment. Hmmm, let’s see. This is a choir, and in the choir we … sing. So, why is it wrong for me to inquire as to whether or not you can … sing? To some, this may seem comical, but all too often we fall in love with people�s hearts without taking the time to also evaluate skill. Do you have a basic, fundamental competence level in the area you wish to participate in? Don�t be scared of skill. Likewise, don�t build your music ministry exclusively around someone�s skill, but make sure to give it the priority and importance it deserves.

Think about it. We demand skill in every other field of service. Whether it is you mechanic, your doctor, your attorney, or your dry cleaner, you want to know that the people who provide service to you know what they are doing! You insist on it. How much more should it be so in the House of God?

Growing up, I remember times when soloists would get up to sing in church, and would say, �Pray for me as I attempt to sing this song.� Huh? As you attempt to sing? What was really being said was, �Please overlook these mistakes I�m about to make because I�m really not prepared like I should be.� Think about it. You wouldn�t accept that anywhere else. Imagine if you were on a plane getting ready to take off and your pilot spoke over the intercom system and said, �Pray for me as I attempt to fly this plane.� I don�t know about you, but I�d get off that plane! Make sure you take the time to prepare.

This article �Give Me An �S�� by Joe Pace is excerpted from From Performance To Praise: Moving Music Ministry To The Next Level.