Confessions of an Unlikely Worship Leader: On Feeling Stupid and Writing Songs

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Confessions of an Unlikely Worship Leader | Free blog series by Jamie Rohrbaugh |

Do you ever feel stupid doing what God tells you to do? Sometimes I do, and writing songs is one of those things I feel really stupid doing sometimes.

God has seen fit to give me original songs lately. Quite a few of them. And I want Him to; I’m really thankful.

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    The songs usually come to me during prayer, or when I’m studying the Word. Occasionally I’ll get a song when I’m worshipping. They don’t usually come just whenever I want them; they come out of the secret place of God’s presence.

    It’s easy for me to write them down when I hear them in my head. It’s relatively easy to figure out the chords, although I’m not a master at this. I tend to use really simple chords. I love the ol’ 1-5-6-4 chord progression, preferably in C, D, or G. (I did recently write one in F-sharp-minor, though, for the very first time… and I about fell out on the floor when I realized that one wasn’t headed for the key of C.) 🙂

    Essentially, I’m good with writing songs down. I’m good with singing them to myself, on my piano at home.

    But taking it further than that takes a lot of courage.

    Related: Rolling Away the Shame of Singing

    For example, this morning, the Lord gave me a song out of Mark 15:37-39. This passage describes how Jesus took His last breath on the cross; the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the centurion said, “Truly this Man was the Son of God!” It’s a gorgeous passage. It’s the essence of the Gospel.

    As I meditated on this passage, I heard the song in my head and wrote down the lyrics. I was singing it to myself and it really moved me. But later on today, some yucky thoughts crept in. Thoughts like this:

    1. I’ll bet this song really isn’t any good. Probably only I will like it.
    2. Who am I to be writing songs? I’m a 4-chord girl. I don’t have enough knowledge of music theory to write songs.
    3. How many bars does a good song need to be good? This one is probably too short to be any good.
    4. My songs are probably boring. Look at Jon Thurlow’s chords and Carol Cymbala’s lyrics. Now those are good songs. Me–I write lyrics in increments of 4 lines, and I can’t imagine using a diminished chord. Ever.
    5. People will think I’m stupid for even singing this song in public.
    6. People will think I’m stupid for thinking that I can write songs.

    For a few minutes, I was tempted to give in to all those negative thoughts. I really was.

    But then I realized: Those thoughts are from the enemy. Every single one of them is a lie. Check out the truth that counteracts each lie:

    1. God already likes the song because I’m just singing the Word, and He loves His Word. He even magnifies His Word above His name. (Psalm 138:2)
    2. It doesn’t matter how many chords a song has. I’ve heard anointed music on one chord. “Revelation Song” and “How He Loves” are both four-chord songs, and boy, are they ever anointed.
    3. Set a Fire” is one of the most moving songs I’ve ever heard, and it’s pretty short. Eight lines to be exact.
    4. I’m not Jon Thurlow or Carol Cymbala. I’m me, and it’s insulting to the Holy Spirit for me to compare myself to others.
    5. Realistically, I would only have the opportunity to sing this song in public if it’s proven beforehand to be good. Except for at the healing rooms, and there they love me anyway.
    6. Well, I don’t claim to be able to write songs; I just write down what I’m given. And if the Holy Spirit confirms it with His manifest presence, then people will be focused on Jesus, not on me.

    So I am going to kick negative thoughts to the curb and embrace truth. Instead of believing the negativity, I will focus on four things when I am leading worship and writing songs. These are the only things that make a song worthwhile anyway:

    1. Does the song minister to the heart of God? If my song doesn’t minister to God, it’s noise, not worship.
    2. Does it move Heaven? I don’t need men to clap when I do something, but I do need Heaven to move. 
    3. Does it release the atmosphere of Heaven on earth? The essence of the Great Commission is to manifest Heaven on earth. The earth needs Jesus. The prayer of Jesus was “on earth as it is in Heaven.” ‘Nuff said.
    4. Does it express my reality–the song of my heart? Scripture tells me that the song of my reality–called “tehillah” (Psalm 22:3)–is what God will sit down on. Also, if a song is my reality, other people will be drawn into that reality when I sing it. If not, then… not.

    If one or more of those four criteria is true, then you know what? Any song is probably going to be great. It may require a specific time or place. But the presence of God is what it’s all about.

    So I will continue doing what is pleasing to God.

    I will steward the songs He gives me by writing them down, and occasionally recording them.

    I will be bold and lead worship when and where I’m called to do so, knowing who I am in Christ.

    I will submit songs to my leader when I think one might need to be bumped up.

    It’s the foolish thing that confounds the wise.

    Do you ever feel silly doing something God has empowered you to do? If so, I’d love to hear about it, and about how God uses you in that area anyway. Please leave a comment and share!


    1. I love this: “kick negative thoughts to the curb and embrace truth”! Awesome. How frequently I need that reminder!

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