If you had told me a year ago I would want to be a worship leader, I would have thought you were crazy. I led worship in high school, and I enjoyed it. However, my thought process behind it back then wasn’t always ‘I’m doing this to glorify God and praise Him.’ Instead, it was ‘I’m doing this so I can perform, and it happens to be worship music.’
I know now that was the wrong mentality. As a 16-year-old who wanted to be a singer though, I thought this was a “step for success.”
I auditioned for New Vision’s worship team in November 2018. A couple of my friends who were already on the team walked me through the audition process. I remember being so nervous. I wondered if I’d be good enough, if they’d like me, if I’d be adequate- you name it, and my brain thought it.
I sang with another lady auditioning (Hey, Shannan!), then had a “one-on-one” type interview with one of the worship leaders on staff (her name is Pam. Don’t worry, we’ll come back to her later!). During this interview, I was asked what my testimony was/ how I got to the point of life I was in. At that point, I wasn’t sure what my testimony was. I then thought there was a checklist of things needed in order to make the team, and I had failed to meet the mark in that department. However, 15 minutes later, I was told I was on the worship team.
That was crazy enough for me, but I was excited!
Before moving to Alabama, I had gone to New Vision. I would stand in the balcony with my parents on Sunday mornings and watch the worship team, thinking, ‘I want to sing up there with them one day.’ I think that was a little seed God planted, but I wasn’t aware back then.
My first time singing on the worship team was January 17, 2019. Here’s the quick backstory you need to know though:
Christmas 2018, my entire family got sick. It wasn’t the flu, but it sure acted like it. My entire family got better, but my throat was still incredibly sore, for a month after. I went to multiple doctors, got my blood taken, had prescriptions, went on vocal rest- nothing was working. The next step was to go to the vocal clinic. There were nights where I couldn’t do anything but cry on the couch. I sang, that’s what I did. Why was God taking putting a “halt” on my throat?
I recorded my debut single, “Comfort Zone,” on January 8, 2019. My throat wasn’t nearly where it should have been, but I pushed myself because I wanted to record, and I wanted to do it right then.
January 11, 2019, I was on vocal rest. That was the tactic my doctor and I had decided to try at that point. I went to see Bob Goff at my church with my best friend. The only time I spoke that day was to her at dinner. I sat down in the sanctuary, and felt tense. Then, in the middle of Bob talking and being his happy self (like always. Please go read his books and watch him when you can! He’s so enthusiastic!), I felt God’s hands on my shoulders, pushing me deep into my chair. All I could hear was, “Relax. I’ve got this.”
That was the most peace I had ever felt before.
January 16th came around, and my throat hurt so bad. But it was my first time leading worship at church, and I didn’t want to cancel, so I didn’t tell anyone my issues. I woke up on January 17th, and my throat felt great- hallelujah! I sang at church that night, and we were praising God that my throat felt better. I went to bed that night, and woke up on January 18th with a sore throat again. What the heck?!! I was devastated. I felt hopeless, and started to give up.
Then it hit me: God had His hand on the situation when I was using my voice for Him and to glorify Him, not when I was trying to glorify myself and my wants.
Now we’re back on track with my story.
May 2019, I played on Mother’s Day at church. During one service, it was just me and my friend, Jacob, backstage. We were casually talking, then I threw out that I was thinking of talking to Pam (she’s back- I told you she would be!) about interning for the worship ministry at church. The two of us were talking through it, then Jacob asked, “Have you ever thought about working at a church before?” I told him I hadn’t, but then my wheels started turning.
That was another seed planted, I just didn’t know it yet.
I met with Pam in July about interning. I went into the same office I had my worship team interview in, and sat in the same spot as almost a year before. At the end of our conversation, I asked her when I would know about the internship. She told me, “Oh, you had it when you walked through the door. I just wanted to hear your heart behind it all.”
I was so excited, both to intern and to learn as I was interning, all at a place I loved.
I started interning August 28, 2019. I had ideas of what I wanted to learn, but I had no clue how much would be in store for me.
That semester, I got to learn a ton about the behind-the-scenes for planning services and events at our church, and I even got to help oversee one of the events! It was so cool, and I met lots of people along the way.
I released an EP that Fall 2019, and if I’m being honest, it completely flopped from every expectation I had for it. I quit my job that had been toxic for me for a while. I interviewed for another job, and it flopped. Mom got diagnosed with breast cancer. A lot shifted in that one semester for me, and it seemed that the only thing that made sense was Jesus.
I talked with Pam and my friend, Derek, one day in between services. We were talking about promoting my music, and Derek suggested touring over the summer. I acted excited, then went home to do research, and I just wanted to cry. I didn’t want to tour. That’s when it hit me: I didn’t want to be an artist at all. Yes, I loved writing the lyrics, but actually getting in front of a crowd and putting on a show all seemed so inauthentic to me, and the farthest from what I wanted to do with my life. I realized my place for now is to write the lyrics for others to connect and heal with, and for me to heal with them, too. It was a weird transition to go through mentally, but it was so freeing in the end.
I ran backstage one Sunday morning in January, and asked Pam if I could still intern Spring 2020. She got excited and said, “Yes!”
I met with Becca, our student worship leader (and the closest person to a big sis I have), for lunch one day, and told her I was thinking about student worship leading. She guided me through some things with that, and answered questions I had, which I’m very grateful for.
I also had an internship in Nashville that semester. The days I interned there were the only days we didn’t have services at New Vision. It was perfect, and God had His hand in it all.
I told Pam and Robert, my boss, about mine and Becca’s conversation, my heart with worship and that I loved interning at church. The entire time, the worship staff has been so supportive and nurturing towards me getting knowledge and experience, and knowing my “why” behind everything I do. I can’t thank them enough for it!
Spring 2020, I got to help with royalties for our worship team’s original music. I also got to help plan some worship sets for services, and really get to know our volunteers. I really got involved…then COVID hit.
Oh, ‘Rona girl.
She is difficult as heck, but beauty still came from it.
During quarantine, my friends and I would FaceTime a couple times a week. We had an ongoing group chat. We even social distanced in the church parking lot for lunch one day (we also got VERY sunburnt, but we don’t talk about that haha). My small group met on Zoom. My team at church did challenges that were funny. I dove into the Word more than ever.
When we came back to church, things were different but in a way, it felt like they had never changed.
I continued to intern through the summer, and now I’m interning for the Fall 2020 semester. I’ve been at New Vision for a little over a year, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love working there, I love the admin work that goes into it and I love getting to authentically lead worship. I’m thankful for this opportunity, the experience, the people- every piece of it. I’ve heard so many testimonies from different people with different lives.
I led at our women’s conference a few weeks ago, and ended up crying before I ever started singing my first song of the weekend! They were happy tears. Happy that I got the opportunity to be there, with all those women, worshiping God.
2020 has taught me the importance of two things: Authenticity and Intentionality.
I was talking to Robert in January, and we were talking about approaching worship leading with authenticity. He told me that it was okay to be nervous, or to be transparent when leading. Hearing that, and then putting it into motion when I led, was a weight I didn’t know needed to be lifted until I heard it.
This year, I’ve gotten to step into leading worship so many times. Leading worship is so different than singing songs for an audience of people at a show. At a show, you want people to approve, and to like you; Leading worship, there isn’t pressure. It’s as simple as offering your best to God by using your talents to glorify His name. Yes, you’re on a stage, but you’re leading others to praise His name. To find that place though, I had to remind myself to be authentic and intentional each time I led.
My favorite book of the Bible is Esther. Specifically, my favorite verse is Esther 4:14. “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
I wrote an entire Instagram post on this verse, actually. If you want to read it, you can find it here: https://www.instagram.com/p/CB1G1W0puMH/. But Esther is courageous, and trusts God, no matter the circumstance or what she may be facing.
I have a lot of unknowns, especially since I graduate college in May. One thing I do know though is that right now, my place is to lead worship and cultivate the relationships I make along the way.
If you had told me a year ago that my throat problems were to lead to all of this, I would have thought you were crazy! But I love every step I’ve taken on this journey.
I’m thankful for every trial and growing experience God has given me, because it’s helped me grow closer to Him than ever before, and He has shown me give love and grace through it all, time and time again.
I am and my voice is a vessel to glorify the Lord.
This is my testimony (so far!), and I’m glad you read it.
*If you have any questions about my testimony, Jesus, worship leading or anything in between, please message me! I would love to talk :) *
“Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.” - 2 Timothy 2:21 (ESV)
“Make me your vessel, make me an offering. Make me whatever You want me to be. God I came here with nothing, but all that you have given me. Jesus, bring new wine out of me.” (“New Wine,” Hillsong Worship)