Raise your hand if you’re familiar with this scenario: You’ve been asked to sing a solo or lead worship for an upcoming service. With excitement, you practice every song, every day, sometimes numerous times a day. You sing the tar out of that song; you do it the same way – every single time. You want to make sure that what you’re singing will sound perfect every time you sing it. Practice. Makes. Perfect.
This was me. It had to be perfect. There was no room for error.
I never realized that I had become so frozen in my singing until I joined Saddleback Worship 10 years ago. We had an amazing vocal director who pulled me aside one day and challenged me on my perfectionist tendencies. He kindly and firmly informed me that there was no freedom in my singing. Just by watching my face he could tell I was overthinking every note.
My fear of making a mistake was limiting my freedom in worship and squelching my joy in leading.
This conversation was monumental in how I pursued singing from that point on. It takes time to set aside old habits of trying to be in control of every note, inflection, and sound that came out of my mouth. I am still learning. But what I have discovered is that in my effort to control my gift I completely limit God and how HE created my gift to be used. My fear of messing up mutes what the Holy Spirit is trying to do in and through my voice.
If I trust that God is who He says He is—that He loves me and created me exactly how He wants me—then I should trust that the gift He has given me is perfect because HE made it just for me. My job is simply to steward it well and let God do the rest.
When I am confident in what God has designed me to do and when I am resting in His promises the possibilities are endless. Fear shrinks and faith increases. I become willing to step out of my comfort zone, I have more fun, and I experience more freedom—as a singer, but more importantly as a leader. It really is SO much fun to sing through freedom instead of fear!
So...practice, practice, practice? Yes! But don’t make perfection be the end goal. Push past the feeling of wanting to be perfect and trust what the good Lord has given you. Once you experience that kind of free-singing, you’ll never go back!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
EMILY BENFORDVocal Director
Emily is a singer/songwriter and session vocalist in Los Angeles. Wife of one, mother of two :) She has been directing the worship team singers for the past year and a half at Saddleback Lake Forest; writing charts and arrangements and leading rehearsals. She is passionate about her husband and children and about using her gifts to further the kingdom!