January 13, 2014
The Atlanta-based singer/songwriter, worship leader leads us through his latest self-titled offering by letting us get to know his subject—himself.
Recording and releasing a new record can be a daunting task. For me, this time, it was a process I thoroughly loved and couldn't release it fast enough. Many of these songs have taken shape over the last two years from just day-to-day life and were not the product of songwriting sessions to kick off or complete a record.
From songs inspired last Christmas watching the tragedies of the Newtown school shooting (“What Will You Do?”) to other songs like "I Will Stand by You," written while serving at Lighthouse Family Retreat (for families living through childhood cancer), the record kind of discovered itself in a natural and authentically inspiring way. I didn't conjure up emotions or try to search for something to write about; I just looked around and watched God at work.
But when it came time to title it, we got stuck for a minute. The record explores a few styles and genres, stemming away from what some would consider a worship record. I wanted to approach again what a "worship record" actually is and let people decide for themselves what songs are for the large gatherings or are better suited for the ride home from work or for going for a run.
So, we self-titled it.
These songs are me, and I love a variety of styles.
One song I wrote for my wife, “When You Smile,” and it's meant to encourage the glory of God in a marriage that honors him and each other.
Other songs like "We Believe" and "All the World" are fast-paced and created for high-energy gatherings to motivate us toward being the love others will see and that God desires us to live out . . . not just sing about.
In this record is the overarching theme that no matter what, from the happiest moments to the depths of heartache and pain . . .
God is good.
God is faithful.
God is awesome and marvelous.
And I can trust him.
As the song "Over and Over" proclaims with confidence: You keep proving to me, over and over, that you are in control, never caught off guard or shaken, unwavering, and worthy of all my devotion.
I've learned so much from leading people in worship, but mostly how unqualified and incapable I am apart from the power of the Holy Spirit.
And if I'm not connected to him, then I'm in danger of potentially missing it and being used in spite of myself.
I don't want to stand before God one day and feel as though I only talked about him in front of people and not to him one-on-one.
I desire for the large gathering to be an overflow of what I'm personally experiencing.
Be it joy or pain . . . but an honest expression, moving us toward his thoughts, his ways, and his glory that draws us in and gives us new perspective.
Leading people "corporately" is humbling and I don't take it lightly, but that doesn't mean I'm perfect. If anything, I'm leading from a place of grateful hope and joyful brokenness.
Growing up, I didn't have any idea I'd be doing what I'm doing today.
And, honestly, even after 13 years, I still don't believe it sometimes.
I started out wanting to teach or coach and be a part of something that ministered to people and helped inspire the next generation to reach their world "for the sake of the call," as a Steven Curtis Chapman song put it.
I ended up in youth ministry for five years or so, all the while singing. But when I met my wife, the vision I had for my life infinitely expanded.
The road has had many unexpected turns since then, but every step has been worth it, and I've found Jesus is as worthy of following today as he was back then!
For me, leading worship begins at home. Serving my wife and leading our family and our two (plus one on the way) kids!
Being available to serve our home church and being in community there is just as important as any ministry I have outside.
I see this as a growing need in the worship leader community in the coming years, as more people take on the calling to engage others with our Creator.
We are not more special or better or more qualified. If anything, we should be first in line to serve others and make sure we are modeling what Jesus did when he gave up his life.
Caroline Lusk was the editor of CCM Magazine between 2008-2014.
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