It was a regular Sunday morning. The auditorium was filled with people who were ready to worship. The band kicked off the opening song and the congregation stood to their feet to join in.
So as worship began that morning, I, as the worship pastor, had the usual things happening inside me. I was caught up in the joy of worship and in seeing that joy on the faces of those who had gathered.
It was then that I noticed a man that I didn't know, standing with his family directly in my line of sight as I led from the keyboard. His arms were crossed. He had a blank stare on his face. His mouth remained closed. He was like this throughout our whole worship set.
I was sooo distracted!
My assumptions were as follows:
- Not a believer
- Didn't want to be there
- Forced there by his wife (who worshiped enthusiastically next to him)
- Hated the music
- Couldn't wait to get out of there
I must admit, I didn't process this situation very well. At first I was irritated. I might have even crossed over into anger territory. My eyes kept going back to him. I couldn't help myself, like driving past an accident on the highway. My frustration grew.
The problem was that I hadn't prepared myself well. My first reaction should have been to pray for him. I finally got around to doing just that, which enabled me to get through the set without a disaster.
What happened next was... unexpected.
Following the service, that very man sought me out and told me, "That was the best worship I've ever experienced and I just wanted to thank you."
I was floored. Did not see that one coming.
It reminded me of the old adage, "You can't judge a book by its cover." It also reminded me that worship is not what happens on the outside. We can sing loudly, raise our hands, clap and dance around and never worship. Worship is spirit-to-Spirit. It's a spiritual response to a spiritual God. It begins and ends with that connection we have with our Creator.
Yes, it is our joy as worship leaders to see those we lead enthusiastically worshiping. But that is only an outward expression of what we really hope is happening within each individual.
I never saw that man again. Never got his name. I have no idea where he came from or where he is now. But this I believe - he's a worshiper.