I stand on stage looking out at hundreds & hundreds of people looking back at me every week. I see smiles, frowns, coffee sippers, fidgeters, yawners, jumpers, shouters; people dancing, clapping, sitting, bowing, jazzercising. I see it all. People have no idea what we actually pay attention to. Sometimes we get choked up watching someone really get into the music & other times, well, what was seen can not be unseen…
Worship is very personal to everyone. The sterotype goes that women are more into worship than men because women are “feelers” and are more emotional. Men get drug to church & just let women do their thing during service so they won’t hear about it later, right? But even some strong Christian men feel worship is too loud or not reverent enough or “just not for them”.
I recently had someone tell me they felt they needed to put more priority on worship & be more expressive physically in it, wanting their worship to reflect what’s actually in their heart, but as a man, they weren’t sure where to start. That’s a great question!
Worship is hard for us men to express. We like to be in control of things, we DON’T like to show emotion & we like to do things on our terms. (Some woman reading this just gave me a, “mm-hmm!”). There are some men who might say expressing themselves in worship was just not how they were raised or it feels irreverent or is not their personality or they don’t mind others doing it, it’s just not for them. I would give them this at face value, but after that, it’s a cop-out & a defense mechanism with some damage control. (Some man reading this just pushed a little more air out of their nose in disgust at me).
We are actually all designed to worship. Yes, that looks different to every person & NO, I’m not saying you should worship how I, or anyone else, worships. But let me plead my case, fellow men. Hear me out.
1 Timothy 2:8 says “In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger & controversy.” This is the apostle Paul, a guy who murdered Christians in his past, hated everything about them & tried to rid the world of them only to turn his life over to Jesus & die for the man he once hated. Lots of anger issues. Keep that in mind here.
He says to be free from anger & controversy (some translations say “doubting”). How many of us men struggle with anger? Check. How many men struggle with controversial things like porn, sex, greed, power? Check. How many men (or women for that matter) struggle with doubt? Check.
What do we as men do when we’re angry or upset at sports games, in traffic or at our kids? We throw our hands up in disgust and frustration, don’t we? We have no problem raising them up, bulging our eyes at the assailant and raising our voice if need be. We actually have no problem raising our hands.
So what’s interesting here is Paul is telling men full of anger and doubt to lift their hands in prayer and worship. But, why? As men, what happens when we raise our hands in a time of worship (and potentially angry on top of that)? It leaves us vulnerable, exposed, seemingly out of control, it diffuses us. It causes one simple word: surrender.
We don’t like to surrender. We are men. We are warriors. We are soldiers and we do what we want, when we want it. (Some guy reading this wished he felt like a warrior…jk..gotta keep it fresh here) But Paul was once this man on a mission, looking for “justice” and doing things on his own terms, angry and controversial. But he became a man broken down and instead of boasting about who he was or is, he boasts about his love for people and for them to know Jesus and he would even go to prison for it.
These men were angry, causing controversy, expressing doubt and what is Paul’s charge to them? Raise your holy hands in worship. Let go of your anger and your doubt and your bitterness and become vulnerable. You NEED to worship, because that anger and controversy and doubt you’re holding on to like a dear friend (and making sure everyone meets him), is rotting you from the core. Stop worshipping anger. Stop worshipping bitterness. Stop worshipping pride. Stop worshipping your own agenda. These things cannot and will NOT save you. They kill you and ARE killing you. Lift up your hands and surrender or it will destroy you like it’s probably already destroyed many relationships and moments in your life thus far.
And for those of you who aren’t angry and doubting, but you simply don’t know where to start? The same answer goes for you: surrender.
We sing an original song at Element Church called “Come To Me” and it’s literally the words of Jesus, “Come to me, all you weary and I will give you rest”. For women, they wear weariness on the outside much more than men. (Some guy reading this about raised his hands early as a ‘hallelujah’ and didn’t know why) Sorry ladies, it’s true, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But weariness for us men is much more difficult because we keep it in and closed off.
Men: In your weariness and conviction, consider Paul’s words. Lift up holy hands in prayer and worship. Let go of what is controlling you and you don’t have to cry or sing loud or sing at all. But we as men need surrender. We need to reset. We need to worship. And if you’re worship isn’t reflecting what your heart truly is feeling, then let me ask a tough question only you can answer to yourself: “Is it truly worship at all?”.
We all worship differently, but we are all designed to worship and designed to have a place in our heart where only God can reside. You don’t have to raise a single hand in worship, in any setting, anywhere, ever, if you don’t want to. My worship is not dependent upon your response and yours isn’t dependent upon mine. But I will lead the way as a man leading other men towards worshipping with passion and the only way I can do that is to give you a glimpse into my soul and simply, surrender. I pray you would consider what surrender looks like to you. Your soul desperately needs it. (Some guy reading this just finished reading this.)