Stagnant Worship - COMPLACENCY

What is complacency?

Let’s skip the definition and head straight to the practicality of it. What does it look like to be complacent? Honestly, much of the time it looks no different than putting forth extra effort. Indeed, extra effort can be given as a means of fabricating the true laziness behind our performance. Have you ever told a boss, “Mission complete, and I did this, this and this…” as a cover up to the mediocre job that you were required to do? We’ve all been there.

Complacency is comfortable. Complacency is easy. That said, complacency does not prepare us for defense against the enemy.

When I was in the Marines I was attached to presidential security detail in the D.C. area. Given the training, equipment, and holistic security of our facility, an attack was highly unlikely. But such unlikeliness bread a new type of enemy: complacency. As a platoon sergeant I told my troops that when we become complacent we drop our guard and become less cognizant of the vulnerabilities around us. Then, when an attack is imminent, our response will lack efficiency.

Similarly, when we become complacent in our worship – whether in song, service, or all around obedience, we lose sight of the reason for our worship, and, thus, become vulnerable to the enemy’s attacks. When we lose sight of the true meaning and reason for worship, it becomes about us.

I used to say that as soon as worship becomes about us, it is no longer worship. But I’ve come to learn that this isn’t true. It is still very much worship; the only difference is that instead of worshipping God (the only one who deserves worship), we worship ourselves. It’s backwards, it’s undeserving, and its sin.

Time to get raw.

If I were to be completely honest, I would have to say that I worship myself frequently. I admire my successes while disregarding my shortcomings. I compare myself to others and see how I outdo them. I brag. I take undue credit. And, what’s worse is that I almost always do the aforementioned through a dialect of humility. That’s where the fabrication comes in. I facilitate my pride in a way that others won’t suspect. I talk the humility rhetoric while absorbing all of the “oo-aw” effect.

I’ve raised my hands in worship because my crush was next to me in youth group. I’ve raised my hands in worship because my crush was next to me, while I was also thinking of the homework I have to do that night. I straight up robbed myself of the very worship that I was already stealing from God! That’s when you know you’re messed up.

But WHY do we do this?  

Because we are depraved. We have a sin nature. When we allow ourselves to become vulnerable then the enemy is going to attack – and attack strategically. The last thing Satan wants is for us to be in community with God. So of course he’s going to attack the means by which we find community with God.

Consider the following areas where we can ensure complacency has no place in our worship:

Make sure the lyrics are accurate. If you’re expecting to lead a congregation in lyrical adoration to God, make sure the lyrics are indeed adoring to God. Not only do we compromise our intentions when we lag on our lyric production, but we invoke staunch deliberation among those in the congregation who are picking apart every single word and comparing it to every single scripture and every single theologian who has sneezed. I’m that guy. I’ve literally sat down in the pew and sulked because a song was cheesy. While my body language could definitely been more subtle, I don’t think it was wrong to be angry.

This is a time to worship the Father, not to bathe in our emotional highs that we deceive ourselves into thinking is worship.

There’s nothing wrong with a stage, music, and lights. A fog machine? Personally I find it a bit much. Why? Because I don’t see how it fits in with worship. If it’s a concert, fine. A worship service? Meh, I just don’t see it. Same goes with light shows, videography and the like.

Why brighten the lights when there’s a key change? Why zoom-in so close to the worship leader’s face that I can literally see the black heads forming on his nose? Why is any of that necessary?

It isn’t. But when we become complacent in our worship we tend to idolize things in addition to God.

To clarify, I’m not saying that the light shows and all that jazz is wrong. I work for the largest Christian university in the world. We have worship services multiple times throughout the week, and I’ve seen enough close up shots of the leaders to know their facial bone structure like I know coffee (that’s pretty good). But I also know their hearts for kingdom advancement. I know they’re doing good things. I know that if we scrapped the close-up camera shots these leaders wouldn’t skip a beat. They’d worship the same. I also know that we have many students who are studying media, videography and similar majors. These services provide an opportunity for our students to get hands on experience.

Our Hearts
Every morning, before the enemy has a chance to attack, before we allow ourselves to grumble, before we even have our coffee (ouch) we should joyfully approach the throne and spend time with Jesus. An intimate time with the Lord in the morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. A couple of years ago at the US Naval Academy graduation, the commencement speaker, a 4-star admiral commanding US special forces, told the newly commissioned military officers, “Make your bed in the morning.” That seems irrelevant, but his message was poignant. The way we start our days will have lasting impressions on the remainder. A day started with the Holy Spirit will convict us, encourage us, and guide us to a pure and Christ-reflecting advocacy.

It’s okay to questions lyrics. It’s okay to deliberate the setting. But be careful not to idolize. When we idolize external elements of our worship service, we are organizing a concert for fleshly enjoyment –not reverent worship to the King.

Be challenged, be encouraged!

- John Wesley Reid

Worship Exposed Guest Writer

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The Worship Exposed Team would like to personally thank John for being a guest writer for our Stagnant Worship discussion series. Throughout his discussion, John was extremely personal and straight to the point; hitting the heart of complacency right where we all needed to hear it. We believe that there is a lot we can learn and take away from this discussion post. Therefore, we want to challenge our readers to get extremely personal, just like John did in his post. Where are the areas in your life that you've allowed yourself to become complacent? It's time to attack those areas head on. Allow God to move and work through those areas in your life.

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DISCLAIMER: Discussions written by guest writers are completely based on the guest's view and not necessarily Worship Exposed's. However, Worship Exposed is extremely selective when choosing individuals for the discussion page. We strive to only feature those that we believe are prominent and respected leaders within the Christian ministry field. We seek out excellence that will honor and glorify the Lord.