Category Archives: Philosophy

Getting a body check…

“I can tell you have a pastors heart Jesse. I can tell that you love people. I see how people respond to your sincerity and honesty. But when you got on stage and began to lead worship…I felt like I had whiplash. Who was this guy up there…is what I kept thinking?”

The above statement is from a pastor whom I trust. He was speaking to me with honesty and concern about how I led worship in his church. I can honestly tell you that I had absolutely no idea this would be his reaction. Until this point…I really didn’t know how he thought the weekend went.

I was so thankful for his honesty though. He wasn’t belittling me…or putting me down. He was speaking out of concern for how I led. Really…he had just spent the 30 minutes prior to that building me up and encouraging me. Reality is…it was so true. I came into this church one weekend and with all the energy I could muster…I grabbed them and dragged them to the throne of God…rather than trying to be transparent and truly lead them there.

Since that weekend…and after hearing his heart…I am reminded of why I am a worship leader. For years, I was told to keep it short…focus on the music and leave the talking to the preacher. I had 15 minutes to bring them from the streets to taking communion. I continually felt the pressure to push through and do all I could to bring about a great set.

I had honestly forgotten what it was like to allow space in a worship set. To connect with the group I was with…establish credibility and simply open the doors for them to walk through. Instead…I had focused my energy on hurdling as many of them as I could.

His comments helped me to remember how I was as a young leader. I needed the reminder to open my heart to the people. I needed the reminder and the permission to allow space for God to move. I will be forever thankful for his thoughts and encouraging words.

It’s great to get honest advice and feedback on how you lead. As a worship leader, continue to be open to criticism and underestimate praise…because even if it goes well…it still had nothing to do with you 😉

God Bless. Jesse.


Church lessons from Facebook

I am an avid facebook user and like many others…I am grumbling about the new changes. One day…I click on my facebook link expecting to see what I am comfortable and familiar with. I expected to see the same messages, know where to click for my favorite links and interact with the many people I consider “friends.”  But things have changed…wether I like it or not… I am left to figure out the new layout.

A post on facebook by my friend PC Walker got me thinking though. His post was, “It seems facebook is hearing the same ‘feedback’ pastors have been hearing for centuries: “stop changing stuff.”

I laughed as I read it. It’s so very true. In order for the church to grow and infect lives with the gospel message, it has to change. People are used to their seat in a service. They are used to the format of church and the path they have to connect with their “friends.”

With that in mind, I thought I might share my thoughts on how change can be brought on with effectiveness and health.

Preview, preview, preview. There was no preview given of the new FB home page before it went live…no real announcements and very little heads up. When Yahoo! changed its famous home page, I am pretty sure most people knew what to expect because they offered you a chance to preview the new page format a full two months before they changed it. When Google changed the format of it’s GMAIL, they allowed you to switch back to the old format if you needed….at least for awhile.

When we make changes in our discipleship patterns, church services and many other aspects of how people connect to information and others through the church, we must give them a preview. Give them a chance to understand why the change is important. Create a conversation with feedback that allows them to be a part of the change rather than exploding on them one weekend. Preach the change…talk about the changes and how they will make things better in the long run.

Never assume that you have all the answers. When Facebook changes it’s design and links without a preview, they are essentially saying that they have the process figured out and know that you will eventually see the light. There is an assumption that people will stay through the change and with new products like Google Buzz coming into the mix, assumptions are never safe because people always have a choice.

Now, I am not calling church a product…but people have a choice. In our consumerist culture, people will choose a church that suits them if they feel like they have no choices in their current place. As a worship leader or preacher or pastor…you have to understand this concept. Hopefully, through time…you have been able to connect and build trust with your congregation so that they understand the heart behind the changes you feel are needed.

I am not saying that you should cater and sacrifice your calling to the whims of the church. I am not saying that you need to create multiple types of services so that you can attract the largest crowd. But, if you forget that the changes you make as a pastor affect peoples lives…then you will be a leader with very few followers. Learn to create a conversation. Learn to continually provide vision. And learn from the mistakes of others.

Blessings friends. Jesse.

Hold on lightly…

I was sitting in a service last Sunday morning with a very stirred soul…trying to make sense of my present situations and wondering what the future will hold. I began to be drawn in by a pastor telling his story. He talked about his first few years in ministry and he quoted John Maxwell with something I will not soon forget:

“Take hold tightly, let go lightly.” This is the essence of non-identification. It is loving fully in the moment and being prepared to release at any moment.”

My hands and mind had been gripping tightly around my present/future and they did not want to release what little control they had. In doing so…I had become fixated and closed to what might happen today…tomorrow…and in the future.

As I heard this quote, it sparked something inside of me as I realized I had been finding my identity in the sense of my control. I had not been looking for the blessings of the moment, the people around me or the journey that God has me on. I was gripping on to confusion with all I had…no wonder I could not feel settled.

I decided at that moment to simply open my hands. I did so physically in the service as the pastor was talking. Trying not to draw too much attention to myself…I kept them low while promising God I would hold it lightly...all of it.

I would take this day as a blessing and love the moment I am in…more importantly…I would love the people around me. Holding things lightly does not mean being extremely laid back or lazy. For me, it means that I take extreme purpose in the moments that I am given and cherish the fact that that what I have is simply a gift.

I pray today that you can begin to take your situation lightly. Treat it with gentle care as if it were a precious gift and gain the perspective that your identity does not come from your future, your past or your present. Your identity comes from the love of God and how it shapes your life.

Blessings. Jesse.

Tell em your life story

“Tell em your life story,” my mom would always say ( in response to dealing with customer service). But I have to say…that this works for many other aspects of life.

It can be a scary thing…letting people in. When you share about your life and your personal struggles, you open yourself to encouragement…and criticism. But I would say that the risk is always worth the reward.

The more people you tell…the more insight you receive. The more you allow people into your life, your circumstances, your conflict…the better you begin to understand love in its true purpose. I am thankful for the responses to my last post and encouraged to know I have such good friends.

Vulnerability and understanding are relational aspects of my life that I live loudly. I find that it allows me to be a part of people’s lives. I find that the vulnerability creates a connection with you that allows me to be a part of you…of your life. It creates times where we can celebrate or cry together or times when we can sharpen each other’s worldviews.

If you never let people in to your life…the good and the bad…you’ll never get the chance to do the same with them. Think of it like a birthday party. Parties are no fun by yourself (plus there are less presents). Most likely, you wouldn’t invite a stranger or someone you barely knew to your birthday party.

If you struggle to invite others into the party that is your life…it will get pretty lonely. When Joanna and I went through our hard time…I swear there were 20 people or so we had to call and let them know. By the end of our phone conversations though…we were so encouraged and lifted up in prayer. More prayers never hurt.

I am inspired by others who share their lives. A friend like PC who openly posts about his “imposter” as he calls it. Another friend named Kristen who is struggling to free her soul of OCD and posts regularly about her struggles and triumphs. It’s stories like these that I begin to recognize, cry through and ultimately end up feeling encouraged by.

This year I challenge you to invite others to the party. Open yourself up…the good and the bad. Begin to share your life story with anyone who will listen. Begin to write your story with as many supporting characters as possible.

Your friend. Jesse.

Job Hunting?

So many friends are without a job. It’s an interesting process to find the next step…the next piece…and it tests your patience. Anxiety wells up inside your heart and while interviewing… you keep wondering… “do they like me?”

I know quite a few people who are looking for jobs right now. You put together your resume, sharpen your brain and set to looking for what is next. Some have families, mortgages, car payments and other bills that will be piling up soon if they are not already. It can bring on a ton of stress.

To those of you looking for the next job to line up, I understand what you are going through.

Most people say to you… “it will work out…I just know it.” You find yourself wondering if it ever will. You begin to question your talents and abilities…your calling…and your future. It can be a frustrating process but I pray that you do not give up.

You are worth the struggle. The God of the universe cares about your life and your heartache.

Pray for clarity and strength. Pray for wisdom and peace. Pray for strength to stand up and say that you are worth it…because you are. I know that I have doubted this, but it is true.

If you are looking for a job within the church full time, it can be a long process. Interviews after interviews and auditions a plenty can test your endurance. For worship leaders, it has an interesting twist. You truly are asking…do you like me…do you like my art…do you like my leadership…my creativity?

Take this time to wrestle and analyze what makes you unique. Ask for wisdom from others, remain humble and continue to let God mold your heart through the process. Do you pray that God would provide money…or an avenue to express your gifting?

We can focus on the provision of money, because of the stress. We can focus on the next step, because we just want to know the answer to our initial question…do you like me? I pray that we can focus our minds, hearts and souls on what God has for our lives and look for the small blessings of today.

Peace and blessings. Jesse.

Expect God’s Presence…it will make you better

 “It’s where you need to be Jesse. Depending on God to show up is where you need to be. It won’t matter how good the band is…how well you play the songs or how you lead. It won’t be a success because you were able to manipulate the audience or because of your abilities…it will be great because God showed up. That is where you need to be…where you will not succeed unless God shows up.”

I will remember those words for the rest of my life.

I had just begun to tell my mom how worried I was about a particular worship leading situation and she reminded me that while my worries were justified…it was the right place to be. And she was right…I would fail miserably if I depended on my own strengths…and worse…I would be blocking God from working in the lives of others because I wanted to control the situation.

Guess what…God did show up.

I often wonder how many times I have stepped behind a microphone with only the power of my knowledge and experience. How many times…my fear had blocked not only myself but others from the presence of God? There is not much I can do to change this reality…but there is much that I can do to change future endeavors.

Living comfortably is not what we are called to and placing ourselves in situations where only God can rescue us and thus bring Him glory…that’s the place where I want to be. Expecting God’s presence in our lives, places us where only He can be praised.

I hope to remember this conversation…and this time in my life for as long as possible. I pray that I do not live comfortably in the settings of my abilities and that I am stretched beyond what I can achieve alone.  For the sake of the Kingdom and for my life…I pray that I continually learn to expect God’s presence…

Blessings. Jesse.

Simplify…it will make you better.

“I’ve got an idea for a video”…ever heard that one? As a worship pastor, we are continually being urged to help create a service where the message is strengthened through some sort of visual element. Whether it is a video, a drama…or special music, someone always has an idea for you to work on…which can get…very complicated.

More often than not, we are under such a tight deadline. We are consumed by the senior pastors decision and topic for the weekend. We are tied to an announcement that “needs” to have a video or long explanation from the stage so that people will respond. Ultimately, we are all working hard to get people to respond. Yet, we hardly take the time or money to create something that will truly cause a response…

This is not to say that all of our efforts are worth little. Many people laugh at our videos, are moved by the dramas and special music can touch our hearts. So, what do we do? How do we fulfill an expectation while crafting something we can feel proud of?

Simplify. Unless we work at a large church…we probably don’t have a large resource pool of money or talent…yet our church wants to feed the hungry. We may not have people who can create or act in an impactful drama…yet our church wants to help the poor. How much time/resources are we going to have to commit for a video you know would not show well even on YouTube…when we could be leading people to feed the hungry…or truly help the poor?

Why not document what our team is doing in a soup kitchen…or develop dance teams in underprivileged areas? More often than not…we do not create such impactful things because this is not what we are asked to do. We are asked to find a funny video online or make announcements…”more exciting.”

Begin to simplify. Begin to create dialogue with leadership that might change the direction of your weekends. It will not happen quickly and it would be job suicide to quit creating these things quickly. It may take some time…but start the conversation and take small steps towards spending your time…and your volunteers energy with strong intention.

I pray we are able to create with passion and focus that passion into something that truly changes peoples lives. I pray we have the patience to start the conversation. I pray for the sake of the world…that we all get…a little better.

Peace. Jesse.

Here is a video…about a life that has been changed…that was done…very well. You can create something impactful…when you simplify.


Gary Klein Testimony – Service Version from Rachel Clark on Vimeo.