You could feel God in the room. The band had stopped playing and they were just waiting. My body felt heavy but also light at the same time. I had this warm feeling inside. People were singing out loving words to Jesus, some were weeping, some had expressions of joy on their faces. We knew something special was happening in that room and no one wanted to move on. It was heavenly.
I long for moments like this, where your experience of God is so real you could almost touch Him. Where strongholds break and peace is tangible. Where you realize you’re worthy to be loved because He says so.
So what was happening in that room? God was manifesting himself to us. “And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (John 14:21). Our God is meant to be experienced. His presence is a promise. He’s the most precious gift we could ever receive. His presence is where there’s fullness of joy and even pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11). Yes, pleasures! You see, when God visits a room, everything changes.
That encounter marked me and opened me up to the reality that our loving Father wants to partner with us so that we can experience Him in a real and tangible way, and then help others do the same. To taste and see that He is good (Ps. 34:8). As worship leaders, we have the amazing privilege and honor to steward the gift of His presence and lead people into a living encounter with a loving God.
Over the years of leading worship, I’ve learned some ways to steward this Gift and I want to share five keys that will help you:
Key 1: Embrace Your Sonship
Part of preparing your heart to steward His presence is to embrace that you are a son or a daughter of the King, who paid it all for you to have full access to the Kingdom of Heaven. This must be our starting place.
And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Gal 4:6-7)
A son makes you an heir, and being an heir means you have everything that Jesus has. That means what is possible in heaven is now possible on earth through you. You have access. Does that sound bold and audacious? It is. It’s good news :). Your authority comes from your sonship, not from your gifting. Being able to nail that high note is important, but it’s not going to break chains. That authority and anointing flow from being a son.
Author, Jack Frost, says sonship is a heart that feels at rest and secure in God’s love; it believes it belongs, it is free from shame and self-condemnation, it walks in honor toward all people. It is subject to God’s mission to experience His love and give it away.
Before a worship set, I used to be backstage pleading with God to show up. And He would; He is faithful. However, when you can embrace your sonship, stewarding His presence in worship comes from a place of being rather than begging. When we can rest in our identity as a son, the question is not, “will You move?”, it’s “where are You moving?” This is His desire, to manifest Himself to us. And because we have full access as sons, we can approach every environment with confidence that His presence is already promised and waiting for our faith.
Key #2: Cultivate Family
I asked one of the worship leaders from that presence-filled night to describe what happened and why it was so powerful, and his first answer surprised me. “Family” he said. He went on to explain that the three leaders did life together, worshiped together often, wrote songs, prayed over each other in the highs and the lows. It was years of relationship that His Spirit was able to flow through. Family is the runway for Heaven’s release. It’s our love for each other that proves we are His disciples (John 14).
Cultivating family takes a heart posture of honor. It says “I trust you. You can be a powerful and anointed leader and that doesn’t take away from me.” Family says “you can take the special ‘moment’ in a worship set because this is not a competition but a connection. When you have a win, we have a win, and more importantly, the Kingdom has a win.”
Paul’s challenge to the Ephesians and the Romans is so powerful: “Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit (Eph 4:3).” “Be devoted to tenderly loving your fellow believers as members of one family. Try to outdo yourselves in respect and honor of one another” (Rom. 12:10).
I believe one of the most powerful tools we have in cultivating family is the gift of prophecy (hearing God’s voice to encourage others). Prophecy breaks down relational barriers, assumptions, and even unspoken fears. Even if you start out as a group of strangers, prophecy can knit hearts together like nothing else. When we can see each other the way God sees us, we see promise rather than problems, and that releases heaven. Next time you lead, ask Jesus for words for your team and watch what happens!
Key 3: Be Interruptible
God loves plans. He created the world and everything in it in a certain order. He even knew us before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). Now that’s definitely thinking ahead! But what Jesus modeled for us is living an interruptible life.
In Mark 5, Jesus was on his way to raise someone’s child from the dead (you know, just everyday stuff), and a woman touched his robe and she was instantly healed. Jesus wasn’t expecting this but felt the power leave him and turned around to figure out what God was doing. After he blessed her faith, he then continued on with his plan to raise the child from the dead. Did this interruption mess up Jesus’ plan? No. He eventually got there. When we let God interrupt our plans, we see the Kingdom go beyond what we could ever ask or imagine. We see this over and over throughout the Bible.
There’s a great Proverb that sums this idea up: “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (Proverbs 16:9). In other words, make plans with what you sense in your heart, but the Lord is the one who will establish those plans or change them. We have to be willing to let him do that.
Key #4: Don’t Be Afraid To Wait
One of the hardest things I’ve had to learn how to do is wait. One personality test, called the Strengths Finder, says my number one strength is Activator, which means I like to start things right away and figure things out after I’ve started. So waiting has not been my strong suit.
In worship, waiting can feel awkward, scary, vulnerable. But waiting is not about tuning out, but tuning in. Psalm 37:7 says, “Wait patiently for the Lord and He will act.” But the word ‘wait’ doesn’t mean to sit back and relax, it’s a word that means to be still in anticipation, like when a hunter is waiting for their target. You’re alert, you’re listening, you’re looking around to see what the Lord is doing. You’re asking Him, “what are you doing right now Lord?”
Let me share a story that illustrates a few of these keys together.
There was one recent intimate moment in worship where everything was dialed down. It was quiet, people were resting in His presence. I was even on my knees. We were waiting on Him. I heard the Lord say, “I’m releasing joy in the room.” My first thought was like, “What?!?” This is definitely a sharp right turn, and there’s was no hint of joy in this room. Talk about an interruption! 😉 But I decided to just sing it out, “The Lord is releasing joy in the room, just receive it.” At first there was nothing. It was awkward and scary, but I just pressed in for more. And suddenly, the whole room began to shift, where there was laughter, shouts, people experiencing their heaviness and stress lifting off of them…there was joy. It was messy, but it was beautiful. This leads me to our last key.
Key #5: Take A Risk
There’s not much that will happen in the Kingdom without risk. Stewarding His Presence is always a risk. God doesn’t give us formulas, He gives us faith. Faith is believing in something we cannot yet see (Heb. 11). Faith says something is possible in the midst of impossible. We often say faith is spelled, RISK. We’re putting faith into a promise of God that we’re not seeing yet. This is the essence of risk.
But whatever we do, we must commit to the risk. We don’t try a risk, we take a risk. Don’t risk half-heartedly. I never would’ve seen that joy released unless I took that risk. I love what Jesus says in Matthew 11:12, “the realm of heaven’s kingdom is bursting forth, and passionate people have taken hold of its power.”
Being fully committed to the risk actually activates your faith. If You don’t show up, Jesus, this is going to look really foolish. Even if it flops, you were faithful to what you sensed from God. You learn and you grow from it. But if it’s half-hearted, you’ll never see the full potential of what that moment could be. Risk stares right into the face of fear and makes a statement that says, “I long to please God, not man.”
Recently, Dave, one of the worship leaders from our Sullivan Campus sensed he was supposed to share a story about the time he was stationed with YWAM in Guinea, West Africa. He shared the powerful encounter and then they continued with the last worship song. Afterwards, he was a bit discouraged because he thought the story took too long and wasn’t helpful. A couple hours later, a woman shared with him that her husband was stationed in Guinea with the military, and it’s the only experience he won’t talk about because how bad it was. When Dave began to share the story, it impacted her husband very powerfully and began a healing process. Wow! Dave’s obedience released healing from Heaven. He took the risk.
We have an amazing privilege to partner with Jesus and release His Presence onto the earth. God is asking you to step into something bigger, better, and more beautiful than you could’ve imagined. As you embrace your sonship, cultivate family, let your plans be interruptible, wait on the Lord, and take the risk, I believe you will see the Kingdom come in ways that astound you. You were made for such a time as this. Go for it!