I get this question a lot because two of my children lead worship on the adult stage of their churches. Taylor leads with her husband, Christopher, at a Grow Life Church in Wesley Chapel. Casey leads at Grace Family Church, where I serve on staff. Before she married, Taylor also led at Grace – so I have been experiencing this one for about twelve years.
It has been a pretty special journey as my kids have developed this part of their own ministry. I remember the first time Taylor tried out for the Jr. High band. Al Hurley was our Worship Pastor and he was hosting the try out. The whole family went to the try out and sat in the last row of the gym while other people were taking their turn behind the curtain. I didn’t mention the curtain. Al wanted it to be “private” so there would be no distractions. He closed the stage curtain so you could hear the music but not see or interact with the person trying out. When Taylor’s name was called, my little girl with her glasses and braces made her way up the aisle to the curtain…and then disappeared. We all leaned in as the other musicians began to play and we strained forward to hear anything that sounded like a piano. When we did, every note was scrutinized with smiles and groans. It was good but she had chunked a few too. Just as suddenly as she left, she appeared through the curtain. Talk about group hug…we couldn’t get to her fast enough. We all hugged and wept for joy of Taylor taking a big step forward. Pastor Al called later to tell her she was in the band. What a feeling of excitement that Taylor would actually get to play music for the Lord and lead others into His presence. Casey went through the same journey – only he played drums.
They both played instruments for a while and were asked to sing. This launched a new era of excitement and amazement as they would began leading on the microphone. What started in the Jr. High band, moved to the Sr. High band and then, weekend services at GFC. I have been asked, “What did you do to help them move along in this journey?” Simply – be their dad. I worked really hard at taking the pastor hat off and really made it about them. No different than if your child is into sports, a community group or other interest. I want them to see me as their biggest cheerleader and not the pastor. It has caused all of us to focus more on their gifts and relationship with God than on their role or place at the church.
Today, when I see them leading, I am in a special place. I do have waves of joy and pride in seeing them use their gifts. I am not a robot – I feel just as excited when they knock it out of the park as you do when your child excels in something. However, it is tremendously humbling to know they are leading me into God’s presence and I worship Him along with our congregation. I focus on Him during the time of worship and cheer for them when we are at home. It is one of the coolest things I enjoy as a dad of worship leaders.
NOTE: Many people ask if Abby leads worship. She does not. Abby has a gift of serving people and especially with children. If you ask me which makes me prouder, it would be a tie every time. Taylor and Casey have a stage that gives them opportunities to reach the masses. Abby’s “stage” is smaller, but her ability to reach people and kids, reflects the same heart that got me into ministry 25 years ago. She still makes me smile and drop a tear when I see her in action.