I have written on the topic of ‘worship’ in the past, particularly the way so many Christians find it apparently easy not to come to worship. Although regularly non-attendance to worship services is a still a concern for me, this meditation has more to do with the concept of worship itself, and especially for ministry workers, whether it be preachers, seminary lecturers, office bearers or others involved in church ministries.
One of my former lecturers at College said the following to us very early in our training, “We will teach you many things here, but not least, you will be taught how to be a theologian.” He was right, and I have appreciated much that I have been taught, not least the ability to think ‘theologically’ about things said, taught and preached. But with every positive, there is also the risk of a negative sneaking into the side door, and it did with me, at least to some extent.
Some time ago now, when I was already an ordained minister, we had opportunity to worship elsewhere, as you do when you’re on holidays. It didn’t take all that long before someone close to me said that I needed to learn how to relax and ‘worship’ all over again. Obviously this person knew me well and had observed my demeanor as I sat close by them through the preaching of God’s Word. One moment I would look relaxed during the service, but at other times I would even appear annoyed, agitated and fidgety. Sometimes my family members would even tap me on the shoulder and whisper, “Relax, it’s not heresy, and worship.”
I initially thought it was strange they would say that to me. In their defense, they were not suggesting that I shouldn’t be discerning or like like the Bereans in Act 17:11; but to sit back, take my ‘theological’ head gear off and worship, after all, that is why we had come. And they were right!
It was rather an important lesson that I had to learn. As a minister of the Word, I was so inclined to think ‘theologically’ about every word, phrase and sentence that was spoken by the preacher, that I failed to worship. I was so intent on dissecting everything that was said exegetically, that I failed to allow the Word proclaimed to touch my heart and solicit praise from me. Yes, there have been occasions when the Word proclaimed was poorly done, but generally that isn’t the case. Sure, it may not even have been exactly as I would have done it, yet, it was done well enough for me to enjoy and solicit worship if I had been in the right frame of mind.
It seems that as ministry workers, we can be so engrossed in our work, that we find it difficult to worship. Actually, when one thinks about it, to not be engaged in worship when you are with God’s people is rather sad and sinful to say the least. Although our preaching, lecturing, and teaching in Christian ministry is important, it’s no defense for not bowing down to worship. After all, my Saviour God wants my heart in worship before I become the preacher, the lecturer, the Sunday School teacher, the musician, or whatever ministry I am involved in.
Thankfully, when I do worship elsewhere now, I have learnt to relax a little more and to join in worship. I seriously want to worship, for the Saviour I teach about, speak and preach about is my Lord too and He is worthy also of my praise and adoration. JZ
Pastor John Zuidema
Since 1997 Pastor John has been ministering to Churches across Australia and New Zealand.