Valerie Jones

{Live with Purpose. Lead with Passion.}

I am a blogger, worship leader, and speaker who helps worship leaders and team members connect with purpose and passion in life and leadership by offering encouragement, community, and practical resources so that they can thrive in life and leadership, both on and off the platform.

Thanks for stopping by!

Filtering by Tag: worship leading

{When You Take The Step You Thought You Couldn't}

I held my breath and pressed the button. Launch campaign. What. In. The. World. 

Can I tell you something? I'm terrified. All those things I explained to you before -- the fear of rejection, the fear of being misunderstood -- are still there.  But I wasn't kidding when I told you that Jesus was working on me. You know what else? When God goes to work, so does the enemy. He tries to intimidate, distract, discourage, and isolate. He doesn't get to win. 

So, here's where I landed. Even if people think I'm selfish or, no one wants to help, that's ok. See, another thing I've been working on with Jesus is this: Do it afraid. If I believe what I say about God, then I have to. 

So, late last night, I decided to take the next step. You know, the one that seemed impossibly hard. My sweet husband said a prayer with me, and then I pressed the button. This morning, I wanted to throw-up. And, take it back. Instead, Jesus and me, we get to work on the waiting and trusting. Part of the process, I already see, is stripping away some deep-seated insecurity. My heart and my life are His, and He has this situation well in hand. 

May I encourage you today, sweet friends? He has your heart and your situation well in hand, too. Trust Him. Let Him go to work. 

If you want to help, there are two ways you can do that. Take a look here and here.  

{When You Can't Take the Next Step}

Let’s do something fun! Settle down in your most comfy chair, close your eyes. Now, think about one of your favorite songs. Do you have it? Go ahead, hum a few bars! Does it stir something in you? Why is it a favorite? There’s a good chance it’s attached to a significant memory or moment in your life. When you hear it, you remember. I have an extensive list of songs like that! I am a confessed music freak, so my list may be excessive, and I have been known to burst into song randomly. My friends still love me.

But seriously.

I remember the song I played a million and one times after my first bad breakup.  I remember the song the girls and I LOVED to hear when we went, ahem, line dancing. After the Lord had started healing my broken and grieved heart, I knelt near the babies’ graves and sang. I remember that song, too.

There have been moments when I couldn’t find words and a song said just what I needed to say. And so, worship through song has long been one of my favorite things. I love to gather with other believers and worship. God birthed something in me a long time ago about worship. It’s where I’m at home. It’s my sweet spot. Our invitation to engage in worship is such a precious gift, a priceless one. I am convinced God’s presence, His Spirit, changes us as we engage. And, boy, do I ever want to lead well in this area. As a worship leader, I have the opportunity to stand in front of lots of people and point them to Jesus. It’s such a big deal to me. Huge.

A few weeks back, an incredible opportunity came my way. I mean, seriously, amazing. I was invited to participate in a worship leader training/mentoring program. Y’all. My one-to-one mentor would be Christy Nockels. I’d also be learning from other established, experienced (and incredible) worship leaders like Kim Walker-Smith and Kari Jobe in live, video-conference small group sessions. There’s an opportunity to get constructive feedback from these leaders as they watch videos of me leading. There’s roundtable discussion with other participants and the leaders. It lasts 6-months, with the opportunity to extend to a full year’s worth of mentoring/training! When I got the news, I was beside myself. Excited, yes. But, also terrified. This kind of thing is WAY outside of my comfort zone. Like, I’m talking in another galaxy. I was going to decline because it costs a few thousand dollars. But, there’s a fundraising option, they said. So, I said yes.

But now, I’m stuck. No matter how I try, I just can’t bring myself to take the next step and raise funds. I’m struggling here because there’s no doubt it’s a good thing. But, is it a God-thing? I think so.

Then, why can’t I do the next thing? Why don’t I feel ok about asking people to “fund” or “support” me? I have a feeling it’s because I’m afraid. Because I don’t like rejection. (What if NO ONE wants to give?) I am afraid to be misunderstood. (What if SOMEONE thinks I’m selfish?)  It’s all rooted in insecurity and pride. And, never mind my lack of faith!? Wouldn’t it be true that if God’s asked me to do it, He'd provide a way for me to do it? And if I say God’s prompted me to do it, doesn’t that make it a matter of obedience?

But, still.

I’m feeling a bit of a hot mess today. Have you ever been there? You know what needs to happen next, yet you just can’t. That's where I am. I want to, but I just . . . can't. Every time I start, there’s a nagging thought that mocks me. We’re sometimes hard on ourselves, aren’t we? I’m working through this process, and I’m impatient and fussy. I’m ready to bail. But that doesn’t feel quite right either. So, instead, I’m left to trust. It’s my choice, of course. Whether I’ll ease up and realize I’m not really in control of what happens here is up to me. I’m not there yet in this situation. But, we’re working on it, Jesus and me. We’re always working on it.

May I encourage you, sweet friends? It’s okay not to be okay. It’s not wise to stay there, but remember we have a Father God who is more than willing to walk us through the days when we feel like a hot mess. We can rest easy in His loving, wise arms believing that He knows what He’s doing, even when we don’t.

He loves you so.

{2 Things that Changed the Way I Lead}

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! “Would you like to lead worship that Sunday?” Yes! Yes, of course, I wanted to lead worship! My heart nearly exploded with gratitude. When I had come back to church a few years earlier, there were no expectations. Zero. The calling I felt God had birthed in my heart had long been disqualified. At least, that’s what I thought; yet, there I was accepting the invitation to fill in in the absence of the worship pastor. It still blows my mind when I see how God has ordered my steps. I was part of a leadership team with two of the most gifted, highly-favored people I have ever known. I never quite got over being invited to the table,  you know? All the plans were in place.   Unfortunately, there was plenty of room for freaking out. Yeah, about that.

Sunday morning soundcheck went off without a hitch. We had a phenomenal team!  After that, though, it happened - the freaking out, that is. Self-doubt is not a kind, warm friend that comes alongside you to encourage you and keep you humble. No, not at all. It's a scheme of the enemy, whose big brother is FEAR.  Of course, I didn't realize that at the time. I was nearly frantic. I grabbed my Bible, went into a small room in the back hallway, and knelt down to talk this over with God. What else is a girl to do? My prayer wasn't elaborate. I was only stating the obvious, tears rolling down my face, "God, thank you for bringing me here and giving me this moment. But, I can't do this without You. I won't. Please, help me." I sat very still for a time and then flipped the Scriptures open to the Psalms. I was heading to the passage I would share that morning but stopped a few chapters short at Psalm 108. Here's what it says.

My heart is confident in You, O God; no wonder I can sing Your praises with all my heart! I will thank the Lord, among the people. I will sing your praises among the nations, for Your unfailing love is higher than the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May Your glory shine over all the earth.

And, that's when I breathed a sweet sigh of relief. In that tiny room backstage, while I knelt on the floor, the Lord started teaching me two truths that profoundly inform the way I lead.

1. Leadership is about my position in Christ. It's not a performance. Do you see it there in the first verse of Psalm 108? My heart is confident IN YOU, O God; no wonder I can sing Your praises with all my heart! I lead from my position in Him. It's all about who He is and who He says I am. If I try to lead without having first established who I am in Christ, then I am squashing potential. All of my gifts, abilities, and influence come from Him. And, even more than that, He is with me. I don't have to take a step without His guidance. You don't, either.

2. Leadership is not about making a name for myself. It's about His name and His fame. The psalmist ends with both feet planted firmly in this truth when he says, "Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May Your glory shine over all the earth." I want people to know Jesus.  The same gospel that compelled me toward Him is for everyone. Fixing our eyes on Him (positioning ourselves in a relationship with Him) will automatically move us in this direction. How remarkable that we get to be part of telling that story!  He's the lead story -- always.

Everything was as it should have been that Sunday. And, now? There is rarely a time I step onto a platform, large or small, that I don't whisper these verses as a prayer right along with Isaiah 26:8. See, leading well means being firmly positioned in Christ.  It means saying follow my example as I follow Christ's example. Isn't that when our influence will be at it's best?  I think so. Here's the thing: I simply want people to see Jesus in everything I do and say, both on and off the platform. After all, He's the one I love the most. And when people see Him, it changes everything. I am infinitely grateful that He doesn't leave us to go it alone.

Questions to ponder: Do I have a tendency to depend on my gifts and abilities more than on God's power in my life/leadership? How do I define success in leadership?


{Worship | Three Things}

The Why.  It's the thing that motivates and moves you. It informs your behavior and shapes your attitudes. It's a BIG deal. Huge.

Why do we do what we do? Why do we say what we say? Why do we sing? Why do we play our instruments? When we define our "why" properly, we can feel confident that we are at least headed in the right direction. Here are three things to consider when defining the WHY behind worship.

1. Worship is a matter of the heart; it's about what we love. John Piper, one of the wisest theologians of this age wrote, "Worship is all about consciously reflecting the worth or value of God. The inner essence of worship is prizing Christ. Cherishing Him, treasuring Him, being satisfied with Him." And isn't it true? Worship from a divided heart does not properly reflect the worth or value of God. It just can't. He gives everything and deserves everything in return.  May we continuously, deliberately pursue Him so that we can know Him and love Him most of all. Then, let our love for Him be the primary reason we worship.

2. Worship is a function of the mind; it's about what you believe. We cannot overlook the importance of developing right knowledge of God.  Our theology (what we believe about God) is important because authentic worship cannot happen apart from right knowledge of God. In worship, our theology shapes our philosophy (what one believes about worship). In turn, our philosophy of worship determines our methodology (how one does worship). Knowing God more fully enables us to worship Him more fully. Theology, rightly applied, will inform our minds and captivate our hearts so that we love God passionately.  You cannot encounter the truth of who God is and be left unchanged. So then, let the truth of who He is define our worship.

3. Worship is lived out in the moments of everyday life. I love corporate worship. There is something especially beautiful when God's people gather and worship. But, corporate worship is meant to be a natural overflow of personal, private devotion. Day after day, in every moment, there is a battle being waged for our attention and our affection. The enemy of our soul would like nothing more than to see our worship misguided and misdirected. He laughs, pleased with himself,  when Christians become comfortable with the monotony of our religious activities, the going-through-the-motions because our hearts and minds aren't engaged. He celebrates a tiny victory when we live so distracted through the week that we neglect turning our attention toward Our Father. What if we allow our love for Him and our relationship with Him to seep into our everyday moments? See,  if we love Him passionately and know Him intimately, then pausing to make space for Him in the tiniest details of our life is just what we do. He is concerned with the details, after all. He's there, waiting to be invited into the everyday moments. Can we learn to recognize Him in those everyday moments, and allow our lives to be consumed by Him and surrendered to the Holy Spirit? And then, worship becomes the natural response because we are mindful of Him.

Here's the thing: Worship is about our posture and position. It's the posture of our hearts and minds and our position in Christ. Our entire lives positioned firmly in Him.  It's about seeing ourselves in light of who He is and what He's done for us. See, for me, when I have a true picture of His holiness, goodness, faithfulness, and unfailing love, I immediately recognize my utter need for Him.  That's when our worship becomes real. That's when we stand up to sing songs about Him and we mean it. We believe it. We live it. HE becomes our why.  And, then, our why is bigger than life! And worship from that posture becomes less about our preferences and more about His presence. We can't encounter His presence and be left unaffected. 

May I encourage you today, sweet friends? Look up. Fix your eyes on Him. What you'll find is that He's already gazing back at you. You've captured His heart and He longs to capture yours.