Distracted Worship

Featuring John Telman Posted on December 9, 2008

Some day all of creation will bow in worship without being coaxed or coached. (Philippians 2:10,11).  How will that possibly happen?  They will simply see the Lord!  Can anything compare to Jesus Christ?  Isaiah saw the Lord in all of his glory and he committed his life to God's service. (Isaiah 6).  John, the Revelator saw Jesus and recorded that he "fell down at his feet like a dead man"! (Revelation 1:17).

One lesson that we learned from the children of Israel is that God alone is to be worshiped.  They were specifically instructed in this by Moses, Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, and Malachi, to name a few.  Anything else was considered idolatry.  But, are we at risk of idolatry as well?  Do we ever focus on anything or anyone else before God, even as worship leaders?

A clue that something is becoming an idol is that nagging feeling we call "distraction".  We feel this irritation in the midst of rehearsal or a congregational gathering that something is wrong.  Someone reading this might even be saying "I don't feel distracted", but I want to challenge you about your focus.  Hopefully, you are on the right track.

In the midst of expressing worship, ask yourself "Where is Jesus right now?".  If you can honestly say that you see him with the eyes of your heart as you voice words of adoration and exaltation, a sense of satisfaction and joy will build within you.  If you find you have to draw your attention away from an individual in the room or the sounds of the instruments or an emotional feeling, you have become distracted from the meaningful worship the Lord is looking for from you.

But, no worries!  Simply redirect your attention.  Remember that the Divine Person of God is present. You don't have to drum up any atmosphere or feeling.  Just look toward him with your mind and emotions. (For more on this, see article at )

Those of us who pastor or lead in musical expressions of worship have the important responsibility of guarding ourselves from distractions.  Is there an audio issue?  Are the musicians struggling with a song?  Does it feel like you're just mindlessly "going through the motions"?  At those points, it is not only advisable but crucial to stop and re-connect with God.  Speak out scripture, pray, be silent and listen a moment.  Do whatever it takes to focus on our wonderful God.  His pleasure is of paramount importance over the opinions of anyone else in the room.

The brilliance of the sun can be easily blocked out when the smallest of objects is placed immediately before our eyes.  If we can't see Jesus, we know that whatever is in the way is not worth our attention.  Nothing compares to him!  This is what the entire creation will realize one day when every knee will bow before him.  Remember how Peter was so distracted by the manifestations of glory on the Mount of Transfiguration that he started a building program right there on the spot?  The voice of the Father from Heaven re-directed his attention in a hurry and said, "This is my Son, whom I love.  Listen to him."  Ouch! (Mark 9)

Think of the depictions of heaven in Revelation 4.  An unparalleled worship service was taking place.  But, how ridiculous it would be to ooh and aah over the flashes of lightning, the creatures, the 24 elders, or the many angels, and miss the Lamb on the throne!  So, the question remains in your image of the ultimate worship event:  Where is Jesus?