In the first post of this series, I listed 10 values that are shaping my students worship band. I’ve loved being a part of this group of musicians, and so I set out to list some of the things that we want to continue to value and develop moving forward. My aim is to develop a culture among us that glorifies God and serves the students that we lead well. In this post, I’ll try to describe our second value, which is taken directly from the Austin Stone Worship Manifesto.
Value #2: We choose servanthood over stardom.
In an article posted on the Austin Stone Worship website, our Pastor of Worship, Aaron Ivey, succinctly describes what it means to choose servanthood over stardom. He writes:
“Leadership is for service, not status…the only person who deserves a platform, audience, or spotlight is Jesus Christ. We resist the temptation to promote ourselves and we die to a desire to be the greatest.”
My band and I’s purpose in worship is to direct glory away from ourselves and toward Jesus in every way possible. This means that we aim to craft our setlist, faithfully practice our music, and lead with a level of excellence that seeks primarily to serve our people and not our own reputation or ego. In other words, our ultimate aim isn’t to direct our students to notice our musicianship – a screaming guitar solo or a fat drum fill – we seek instead to point our students to Jesus. Jesus alone is worthy of being exalted. Jesus alone deserves our attention and admiration. We seek to point our students to him by the way we plan and execute our music.
But faithful servanthood goes far beyond our ability to make excellent music that points people to Jesus. It reaches down into the very lives of the students that we serve. This means that we are willing to step off of whatever platform we’re on to “get our hands dirty” – by offering a kind word, a helping hand, or just caring enough to remember our students names and form relationships with them. Sometimes it means playing ping-pong with the same girl for the fortieth time in a row. Sometimes it means googling the newest video games so that you can have a coherent conversation with a sixth grader about his hobby. Sometimes it means letting a sweaty kid with grubby hands and a pizza-stained t-shirt play your guitar! Like Jesus took initiative in laying down his life and serving us, we seek to take initiative in serving the students in our ministry.
Ultimately, we are fueled for servanthood by the example of Jesus.
Jesus was the epitome of a servant. The only one who ever deserved to be pampered chose instead to wash his disciples feet. The only one who ever merited the right to live in the lap of luxury had no home on this earth and no place to rest his head. The only one truly worthy to sit on a throne in the presence of royalty chose instead to sit on a dusty floor, eating with sinners and crooked government officials. The only one who claimed the right to ornament himself with the finest that the world had to offer was instead ornamented with the naked ugliness of our sin. And the only one who truly deserved to be lifted up in admiration and praise was lifted up on a Roman cross to be derided and ultimately killed.
I wonder if, in Jesus’s dying moments, his followers remembered these words that he had spoken to them:
whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (ESV) – Mark 10:43-45
Jesus chose this kind of servanthood knowing that it would cost him everything. And he calls us to do the same. There’s no room to clamor for recognition and no space to seek after stardom in God’s economy – there is only one Hero of the story, one Savior, and one King who alone is forever declared worthy of honor and glory.
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice,
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!” (ESV) – Revelation 5:11-12
We choose to embrace servanthood because Jesus did. We choose servanthood because Jesus is the true star. We choose servanthood over stardom.