Being Jimi Hendrix: Purple Haze vs. Jesus Daze

You’re more of a waiter than you are a rockstar. -David Santistevan

Sometimes, the praise part of the worship service makes me groan.

Yes, sadly, it’s the worship leaders—particularly the women worship leaders. Being a woman myself, I want to champion them, encourage them, but end up wanting to shout, “Stop, please stop, please make it stop! Please make the pain go away!”

Anyway, having had the privilege of visiting many different churches and denominations, when I see some worship leaders, they always remind me of Jimi Hendrix and Purple Haze.

Now, I know many of you are going to be offended and call me sacrilegious. I agree.

I’m sorry.

© CartoonChurch.com

I apologize in advance.

I apologize to Jimi Hendrix (and his fans) for offending him with such a comparison.

Jimi Hendrix was an incredible talent. Enormous talent. And if I may use a word I don’t particularly care for, well, he was truly authentic. He wasn’t trying to be anything but Jimi Hendrix.

Many worship leaders are wannabe Jimi Hendrixes…and they don’t even know it!

Take your average worship leader for example. High on Jesus Daze, eyes closed, swaying, kissing that mic, swaying, eyes closed, muffled words. Okay, no great guitar riffs and solos.

And then, there’s the sobbing. I mean every, single Sunday. The sobbing and crying. I once asked a worship leader why she had to cry every time she led in worship, and her response was, “It’s the Holy Spirit…I am so overwhelmed…I can’t help it…I just can’t….” I suggested if she was so overwhelmed, it would be better to step down and let someone else lead.

And she cried again because I hurt her feelings.

Stephen Miller (@StephenMiller) in his article, Worship Leader: Keep Your Eyes Open, writes:

While closing your eyes as you lead worship may feel more emotionally engaging to you, it is far less helpful for the people you are leading – and frankly a little odd to them.

“Are you having [a] moment with just you and God? Should we step out and let you be alone? Do we matter? Do you want to lead us?”

Exactly how I feel, and what I want to say to most worship leaders: Please open your eyes and “lead” the singing. If you want your closed eyes moment with the Lord, step off center stage and let someone else “lead.”

They don’t call them Worship Swooners, Worship Crooners, Worship Criers, Worship Sobbers, Worship Jumpers, Worship Shouters…but Worship Leaders. And what does a leader do?

Again, Stephen Miller says:

“In the same way you can still fervently pray with your eyes open (hopefully you’ve discovered that secret too – it will revolutionize your daily commute), you can also fervently, passionately worship and lead worship.”

I love also what David Santistevan advises in How to Move Beyond Singing Songs to Leading Worship:

Keep Your Eyes Open – There’s nothing wrong with closing your eyes from time to time. But not for an entire worship set. Your main job is to connect with people. You can’t do that if you’re in your own worship world. Practice keeping your eyes open.

What do you think is appropriate for leading in worship?

Recommended Reading

Worship Leader: Keep Your Eyes Open by Stephen Miller

How to Move Beyond Singing Songs to Leading Worship by David Santistevan