Backup Singer, Comedic Relief and Why Dying to Oneself is So Hard

Sheet Music

I have always loved to sing.

In the most difficult times of my life, singing praise and worship songs, belting them out in my car as my cry to God,  were my lifeline.

When I didn’t feel able to praise God in spite of my circumstances with my own words, the lyrics to my favorite praise songs did that for me.

I haven’t ever taken lessons, and in junior high I was always jealous of those girls that were a part of the jazz or swing groups. The would sing and perform on stage and had such confidence.

I tried out for concert choir in high school and while I felt like I botched the audition, I made the group and I loved that time learning and singing.

When we moved to Marshall almost 4 years ago we found a church that we loved right away. I remember seeing the worship team lead and wished I could be a part of it…half hoping that someone would hear me singing and tell someone that I needed to be up on stage.

It all happened a little differently than the magical way I had dreamed of, but about a year and 1/2 ago I started singing on our worship team.

It terrified me.

I am not kidding, like all out body shaking, voice quivering, terrified.

Don’t get my wrong, I equally loved it at the same time too, but it was all I could do to not run off the stage on the Sunday’s that I helped the team.

We have some really great, strong singers on our team and as we practiced my confidence grew a little. I started learning how to hear and sing harmony on some songs (which has completely wrecked my ability to NOT sing harmony on most songs I hear on the radio) 😉 But the one thing that terrified me more than anything was the possibility of leading.

As the person leading the song, you have to know when to start, when to come in, you need to sing strong and know all the notes…you are leading and the rest of the group depends on you.

So clearly my scardy-cat self was not prepared for a job like that.

You see I joke that I was hired for background vocals and comedic relief. Now of course we are all volunteers and don’t get paid…but if we did that is what I would be paid for. I would not be paid to lead. At least not in my mind.

And then this week I was asked to lead. Sometimes leading means everyone on the team sings with you, and as the lead your mic is just turned up a little louder than the rest. Other times when you lead it means that you sing a solo for a time before others join you.

The latter option is horrifying to me. Horrifying.

And so, of course, THAT was the option for me this week.

I didn’t feel confident and the song felt to high. Do I try and sing it strong with the risk of straining my voice, or do I revert to the falsetto high voice that I need to reach those notes that are waaaay up there?

Switching between the 2 wasn’t coming smoothly. I practiced throughout the week. I listened to the notes on CCLI, and I begged God that He would impress on the team that someone else was better equipped for the job.

Clearly I struggle with a few self-confidence issues.

And here is the deal. I KNOW that I sing because God gave me a voice, and I do it for Him. But the voice in my head tells me that if I don’t have it perfect, then I will be a distraction to those trying to worship.

If I can’t sound like Natalie Grant or Kari Jobe…then I shouldn’t be leading.

Dominic told me to sing loud and proud. But as we approached the song in practice yesterday morning I just knew that I couldn’t do it. I tried and it sounded awful, there may have been a few tears too…I was so mad that the whole thing was such a struggle for me.

It is embarrassing to feel that emotional about singing a verse and a chorus by myself. Our team is amazing, and they came in early and sang the chorus with me…and one of the WT leaders talked to me before the service started.

This too is like labor. A process we must go through, and in the end there is a reward. We get to honor God with our voices – even if they aren’t perfect.

Because it isn’t about me. And yes I KNOW that…but boy the physical reactions that I feel in that situation say otherwise.

And I am not there yet. She said that this too is a process of dying to oneself. Of getting to that place where we are leading in worship, unashamed. I can’t and won’t get it perfectly. I am not Natalie Grant or Kari Job, and the people at my church don’t expect me to be.

They all give me grace but I am unwilling and unable to give it to myself.

And she also said that my perception of the situation and the reality may just not be the same. (Who knew?! 😉 )Which is unfortunately the case in so many areas of my life. If I really sounded as terrible as I felt I did, they wouldn’t have me up there.

So this is a process that I am going to have to walk through. I will be honest it would be easier to just ask to never lead a song again, or to quit. Because it is my nature to flee from things that are difficult like this.

But God doesn’t want us to run from the difficult. He calls us to walk through those things, and promises that He is with us.

I don’t know when I will get over the fear. But I know that I want to honor God with the voice that He gave me…so regardless of how I feel on the inside, I will choose to keep trying, and will trust that He will refine this area in my life as well.

What do you struggle with that God is calling you to walk through? I would love to pray over you this week!

Photo Credit: Marcin Wichary

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