Unwrapping Grace

Day 1 of 8 • This day’s reading


Unwrapping Grace: A Devotional Guide for Worship Leaders

by Rev. Dr. Mark D. Roberts


I have written this devotional guide specifically for worship leaders. Why focus on worship leaders rather than leaders in general? Because we who lead God’s people in worship have embraced an extraordinary opportunity. Moreover, we face distinctly difficult challenges and need distinctly strong support. Not only are we expected to lead well in at least two diverse contexts (our worship team, our corporate worship services), but also our leadership has to do with one of the most precious things in life, namely, the relationship between people and God. So, we who lead worship bear a heavy responsibility. 

Leading worship well requires more than the predictable list of required skills, as important as these skills may be. Yes, we need musical ability and biblical knowledge. We need emotional intelligence, relational wisdom, and theological vision. But, if our worship leadership is going to be authentic and effective, we need even more to have a deep, growing relationship with the living God. 

Ironically, leading worship can be hard on this very relationship. For one thing, as we lead, we are regularly drawing from the well of our intimacy with God, which can lead to dryness if that well is not being consistently refilled. Additionally, we can easily slip into the role of “professional Christian,” doing and saying all the right things up front even when they no longer stir within our own souls. In time, our internal dryness will dehydrate the community we lead as well as our own hearts.

I know this from my own experience as a worship leader. While working in churches for over twenty years, I led God’s people in worship through music, prayer, and preaching. I know what it was like to stand up in front of a congregation, wondering if I have anything left to give, tempted to believe that my ability to lead worship proves the depth of my own relationship with God.

I have also been a teacher and coach of worship leaders through my seminary classes, through a decade of writing for Worship Leader magazine, and through dozens of relationships with fellow worship leaders. I have seen how the truth and power of God’s Word can refresh and renew those of us who lead worship, especially when the Word is not just studied objectively, but also meditated upon, internalized, obeyed, and prayed. 

Thus, I am writing a devotional guide for worship leaders, not just a collection of essays. My primary goal is to help you experience God more deeply and truly. Of course, this is a worthy and wonderful thing all by itself, but your deepening relationship with God is also essential if you are to thrive as a worship leader. As you use this guide, I am confident that you will find resources to enrich your worship leadership. Moreover, I hope you will discover new ways to know God, to experience God’s grace, and to serve him in return. 

How to Use Unwrapping Grace

Unwrapping Grace contains seven devotions, each focusing on some aspect of grace. All of these devotions are based on the New Testament book of Ephesians. Why Ephesians? There are two main reasons. First, not long ago I penned a commentary on Ephesians for the Story of God series published by Zondervan. The more I studied this amazing biblical book, the more I wanted to share what I was learning with others. So, I write and speak often based on Ephesians. Second, Ephesians offers deep insight into God’s grace. This insight will draw us into a more truthful and intimate relationship with God, even as it prepares us to lead God’s people in truthful and intimate worship.

Each of the seven devotions in this guide is based on a short passage of Scripture, with a few paragraphs of exposition. Two sections of questions follow with the first relating to your personal life and the second touching upon your leadership of others in worship. My questions are by no means exhaustive. As you read and reflect upon the biblical text, the Spirit of God might very well stir up other questions or help you to see truths that I have not anticipated. As this happens, feel free to let the Spirit guide you. 

Each devotion closes with a prayer. You might find it helpful to read this prayer, making it your own. What I offer is meant to be a springboard for your own communication with the Lord. Once again, let me encourage you to respond as the Spirit leads you. Open your heart to the Lord in response to his Word speaking to you. 

As you work your way through Unwrapping Grace, you might find it helpful to write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Alternatively, you might decide to use this devotional guide in a group, perhaps with your worship team, adapting it for corporate conversation, reflection, and prayer. 

Let me conclude this introduction by quoting from Ephesians 3:20-21: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.” 

- Mark Roberts