Even when the atmosphere seems perfect, the musicians nail every note and the congregation seems to connect with the music I have sometimes found myself getting very little out of worship.

What I could recognize was that something important was missing, but it escaped me as I went down my “all-is-well” check list to make sure everything was just right. Then it struck me: I was the common denominator.

The thing I was looking for, the thing that was missing in worship was me. Sure, I was physically there, but amidst all the rehearsals and preparation to lead others in worship I forgot to bring myself into worship. But what does that look like? How do we show up to worship as we ask others to do each week?

In order to lead by example we must understand what steps we must take to bring ourselves before God in worship. The act of worship is a transaction with God, or an exchange rather than just an encounter. I mean, what do we expect from an encounter with God? We can’t encounter him without getting something from it. Likewise, we can’t receive anything unless we give up what we are already carrying. If our hearts don’t show up and we don’t let go of every circumstance, worry or private sin then we will leave worship unchanged, unaware of the presence of God in our lives and slaves of our own desires.

In defensive driving you are taught to “drive for space.” The concept is simple in theory but often hard to execute. If we concentrate on not  hitting the car next to us then all we see is that car and we tend to go where we are looking. Instead, focusing on the empty space around us keeps us off the collision course with large or immovable objects. This principle is emphasized in scripture, especially regarding temptations. For example, Paul tells Timothy to flee youthful lusts and instead pursue purity and righteousness. It’s not enough to just sit there and resist sin because that sin is all we will think about. Instead we have to acknowledge the temptation and give it up to focus on Christ.

That focused pursuit of Christ is best described as worship. That is how we need to show up in worship.

Let go of everything so that you can take hold of Him.