How I went from worrywart to worship warrior.
People that know me now would find it hard to believe that I used to have the nickname, “Worry Wart.” My fourth-grade teacher was the first person to speak it out loud that I worried about everything. I distinctly remember her saying, “Stop being such a worry-wart. You are doing great.” I was only 10 years old. I didn’t shake off this title until I was in my mid-twenties. However, I am hoping that if you find yourself in a state of almost constant anxiousness I have a solution. It’s trading in your old worrywart title for worship warrior.
I joined a church in my early twenties that had a bold style of worship (I'm talking the singing kind, not tithing, serving, or other types of worship). People in the congregation raised their hands, fell to their knees, and jumped joyfully in praise. This was a far cry from the Catholic mass I was used to from my childhood. It would have been easy for me to judge them. After all, they didn’t really look like they were at church. However, I noticed they were full of life, even through their tears they looked free. I wanted that. It was here that I began to lift my arms higher and higher each week in adoration of a God. A God I was just beginning to know.
Fast forward a few years and a few moves we landed in the UK. I’ve always loved to sing. I’m not the world’s most talented singer but I can carry a tune and it landed me a spot on our church’s worship team. This was the pivotal game-changer for me fully becoming a worship warrior. At first, I was so nervous at how I would sound. Worrywart was in full effect! My worship leader could tell I was nervous and struggling. However, he was patient and kind in how he helped me understand it was less about the notes and more about having the posture of worship.
He was talking about what I had seen in my early days as a Christian. People who cared more about worshiping God than what others thought. It took tiny steps of faith to silence the worry and release the warrior. What were those steps?
I love how the principle of Hillsong College USA puts it that our worry and worship cannot exist together. I don’t sing on the worship team anymore, but I worship like I am. I still struggle with worry however, I know the antidote is just a heartfelt song away. How do you worship? If you have other suggestions that would help people be bold in worship please leave a comment below.
Tips to Change Your Stinking Thinking
One of life’s greatest lessons I continue to apply is that my attitude affects my experience. How I am able to choose how I think has a direct correlation to a happy fulfilled life. I was a dyed-in-the-wool skeptic when it came to the idea that if I just think happy thoughts I’ll find happiness. It couldn’t be that easy. What I have found that it isn’t EASY, but it is that SIMPLE.
Dr. Carolyn Leaf has so many teachings on neuroplasticity (our brains are flexible) that are worth exploring. She has researched the theory that we can create a new way of thinking that actually changes our physical world. We were designed with a creator “God”-chip that allows us to manifest new realities through our thoughts. This is why it is so important that we take ownership of how we think.
If you find yourself in a pattern of misfortune you can easily fall into the trap of believing that another tragedy or inconvenience is waiting just around the corner. However, we always have a choice of how we approach our circumstances. Positive people tend to experience positive events. Negative people tend to experience repeated negative events. We all know someone who never has anything optimistic to say. You know those friends who are always complaining about the weather, their ailments, how expensive things are, and that they never can catch a break. On the flip side, I’m sure you also know people who seem to have favor wherever they go. Good things are always happening to them. This is not an accident. Those people experience the same setbacks life sends to all of us. I am confident that it is simply the way they choose to think about them and move forward in hope, peace, and joy.
I was one of those stinking-thinking people. I called myself a realist but really I was a pessimist. Then I married an enthusiastic optimist. My husband is “Dory”...he just keeps swimming. He sees opportunities in every situation. It was harder for me to adopt this way of thinking that I thought. It took some serious scripture study as well as significant faith but I can say that I am now well on my way to being an optimist!
What were the main changes I made?
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. - 2 Corinthians 10:5
Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. -Romans 12:2
God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity but of power, love, and self-discipline. -2 Timothy 1: 7.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. - Romans 8:28
We know a lot more about how our brains work and how our thoughts influence our reality. I love that scripture aligns with what science is now confirming. It gives me a sense of awe and gratefulness that we have a God that gives us free-will to choose how we experience life. If you are struggling in a negative season it is especially hard to overcome doubt, fear, and pessimism. Take a few of these scriptures and let it encourage your faith. God gives us the ability to thinking differently. He designed us to create a life full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Dare to pray for miracles.
Have you ever prayed for something really big only to have it never happen? Have you ever prayed for a miracle? I want to clarify a few things before we dare ourselves to pray for miracles.
A miracle according to Oxford is “a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency.”
These are things that cannot be explained by scientific or natural law. They are attributed to an act of the divine. In other words, they are God’s work. Here are a few examples of Jesus’ miracles that we find in scripture.
With the exception of exorcisms, Jesus performed miracles that had to do with transforming matter or energy into something else. When people were healed their cells went from disfunction to proper function (Mark 2:1-12). He changed the molecular makeup of water into wine (John 2:1-11). He caused the division of bread and fish to become multiplication in the story of the loaves and fishes (Matt 14:13-21). He commanded the weather to calm (Mark 4:35-41). He caused the breath of life to return to a dead body (John 11:38-44).
He was divine. It was by definition an act that only he could do. I believe these transformations of matter and energy were easy in comparison to transforming our hearts. That’s why Jesus’ teachings focused on drawing us closer to God. The closer we get to God the more we understand who He really is.
We say God is all-powerful and yet we don’t pray he will use that power for our own needs.
We don’t pray that God will invest in our business because he has better things to do. We don’t pray that we will be miraculously healed because what if he doesn’t heal us? We don’t pray for resources because we haven’t been diligent in stewarding what we have. We don’t pray for things beyond where we believe God is willing to go. Are you limiting God? I know I have many times in life.
I would hear, “You got yourself in this mess now you get yourself out.” or “What if God doesn’t heal them?” “You cannot do that!” “Where are earth are you going to get the resources to build that, do that, create that…” (This was the voice of the enemy)
I still have to bolster my resolve to pray for miracles, but I want to be the type of Christian that puts God’s reputation on the line in prayer. I want to be bold enough to ask!
Are you daring enough to:
Are you a person who can set aside your doubt and trust the God of heaven is big enough, loving enough, and kind enough to set a miracle in motion for your today?
I promise you. You are.
Don’t listen to the voice that asks, “Who do you think you are asking for that?” Silence it by saying, “I’m dust, but the God I pray too is more than enough. He will help deliver me, set me free, provide for me, and help me overcome any obstacle that comes my way!”
What miracle are you going to dare to pray for today? Please leave it in the comments below if you are comfortable. I’d love to join you in prayer.
Some of the greatest periods of spiritual growth came out of seasons where I engaged with a Christian mentor. I first found a Christian mentor when I was serving in youth ministry. The types of behaviors and circumstances that my girls were dealing with was beyond my experience. I needed to find someone who could mentor me so that I could mentor them. It was in this season that I began an intentional search for help. Here are the tips I recommend to find a Christian mentor.
Tips to find a Christian mentor.
Determine why you want a mentor.
There are many good people in the world that can offer guidance in different areas so you need to answer why you want a mentor in the first place. I needed someone who had wisdom and experience in counseling young girls. How about you? Do you desire more peace? Do you want to parent in a godly manner? Do you need encouragement to do something you are afraid of doing? How about launching a business? Do you need help navigating a failing marriage? Setting your own goals will help you determine the “why” then you start looking for the “who”.
After you understand what you are hoping to learn from your Christian mentor then you need to pray to find them. Pray that God would reveal a person or couple that will help you. As you pray write down anyone that comes to mind. Once you have a short list of people evaluate if they appear to have the thing you are looking for.
Watch them. Do you like them?
If you want a mentor because you want a job like the or a platform like them you will end up frustrated. As you consider approaching them as a mentor make sure that you want to become like them. If there are individuals that you admire but don’t want to become like them, remove them from your list. This is a person you want to emulate in your own life.
Ask for the Holy Spirit to open a door to a mentoring conversation.
Why do I recommend having this “pause” in the process? It’s so you get the right mentor in the right season at the right time. I know that I have rushed into engaging with a mentor only to find they really didn’t have the time to commit. It felt awkward for me and for them. While asking for the Holy Spirit to lead isn’t a guarantee you won’t have setbacks it does improve your outcomes.
Ask them to coffee.
This is the precursor to asking them to mentor you. It’s a “get to know you” meeting. Think of it as an informal interview where you present your dilemma (organically in casual conversation of course). Let them share their thoughts and evaluate how they respond. Once the meeting is finished decide how it went. Do you see them as a person who could genuinely help you move forward? Do you think it is a good relational fit? I have engaged potential mentors that are brilliant but their style is not what works for me. Think about these things as you consider asking them the big question!
Ask them to mentor you.
The most common mistake I hear from women who are looking for a mentor is that they never actually asked the person. The likelihood that your desired mentor is going to approach you to pour their time, effort and resources into you is slim to none. However, many people just need to be asked.
Be proactive and follow-up.
It is not the mentor’s job to follow-up with you and schedule meetings etc. It is up to the mentee to proactively pursue building a relationship with their mentor. When you make the initial ask, probe to find out how often would it be ok to meet or have a phone call. Then schedule a consistent pattern based on their answer. Be persistent in the beginning until an easy rhythm begins to form.
Evaluate the relationship.
After you have met with your Christian mentor several times you should assess the fruit. Do you feel you have grown? Are you learning? Do you get uplifted and encouraged? These are indicators that the relationship is a healthy one and you should continue to develop it. If you are not seeing much fruit or it has proven to be extremely difficult to get your mentor to engage then it is time to break off the (mentor/mentee) relationship.
Be willing to be mentored from afar.
I have several “distant” Christian mentors. These are people that I don’t know personally but I desire to emulate their life. These are powerful women of faith that are writers, speakers, and podcasters some of whom you would know by name. I don’t have access to them directly but I can engage with them through social media, books, and listening to their content. Michael Hyatt offers some other suggestions on how to find a mentor.
Finding a good Christian mentor is a process. Developing a fruitful relationship where someone agrees to coach you through a season requires commitment from both you and the mentor. Be patient. Make sure you have clear goals, prayerfully select the person, wait for the right timing and make the ask. A Christian mentor can help you build faith habits that can change your life. I want to encourage you not to give up looking if you still haven’t found the right fit. I’d love to hear about your own experiences with mentors? What did they help you do? How were they good, bad, awful? Leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to reply.
My husband and I have almost always attended a large church but have been able to find our people and make it feel like home. Our first church home was Oasis LA which at the time had an average service size of about 6000. Then we moved abroad and attended Hillsong in London which had a whopping 10k attendees per weekend across all campuses. We currently go to Hillsong Church in Phoenix which hosts just over 8k each week. It’s easy to get lost when there are so many faces in the crowd. In every church we were able to find friends and feel connected to what was happening. We learned a few tips that help to make a big church feel small.
What to do when you feel like a number at church.
Arrive Early, Stay Late.
It can be really tempting to sneak in after the first worship song and leave before the service ends. Afterall, you want to beat the brunch crowd right? If you want brunch...eat brunch. If you want a community in a huge mega church...hang around. The more you loiter in the lobby the more likely you are to make a connection. Hosts are typically your best bet to find out what’s happening in the life of the church. They are most available before the rush to get through the doors or after the mass exodus once service is dismissed. Try to have a meaningful conversation for three straight weeks before you decide if this is a place you can get plugged in or not.
Sit in the same spot each week.
How do you become a “regular” at a restaurant or bar? You go to the same place on the same day at nearly the same time consistently. Over time the hostesses, bartenders, and servers will start to recognize you and call you by name. The same is true in church. When you sit in the same spot you will begin to notice some similar faces week after week. This is a chance to get to know them. If you really want to up the game, after a few weeks invite some church “neighbors” to lunch!
Take a class.
If there is a new-to-church class or a bible study that sounds interesting, sign up! Even if you have already gone over similar material. Classes are perfect environments to find like minded individuals that are seeking the same thing or in the same seasons of life. Alex and I have found some of our greatest friends in life from our pre-marriage course we took. Over 14 years later and we are still regularly interacting.
Join a small group.
Most large churches have some version of a small group. We call ours “Connect Groups,” because that is what they are intended to do is to connect people. Find out how you can get in touch with a small group that sounds interesting. For example, if you are a new parent find out if there is a young families connect group? This is one of the best ways to help you not feel like a number at church. Eventually, you will know people, sit with them, go to lunch after service, celebrate with them etc.
If you want the quickest and probably the best thing to do when you feel like a number at church. Offer to volunteer on a team. Alex and I make a habit of serving in our church in whatever area there is a need. When we moved to each new church we introduced ourselves to hosts and asked how we can get involved serving. As soon as we got plugged into a team we were put in touch with leaders of the church. When you know the leaders of a church you no longer feel like a number. In addition to this benefit we also were some of the first to know when new events and opportunities were coming up in church life. When you serve you become an “insider”!
Big churches are intimidating. However, if you are willing to put yourself out there and get to know a few people a big church can begin to feel like your home. The beauty of a large church is that they have big numbers of people! It’s easier to find your tribe when there are more folks to choose from. Start by hanging out before and after service and sit in the same area for a few weeks. Try and find a small group or class to meet people in a similar season or geographic location to you. Lastly, and most importantly consider serving on a team. If you take these steps I am confident you will stop feeling like a number at church. How have you found your place in a a large church? What was the thing that helped you get plugged in? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.