by Katelyn Sullins Posted Jan 22, 2020
I can recall, as a high school camper at the Shores, watching the worship leader up on stage and thinking they must be the coolest person at camp.
This past summer, we got together with a couple of staffers who have had the privilege of being worship leaders to see what the job was really like. As it turns out, the job might not be as effortless as we all once thought it might be (don’t get us wrong, it is still super fun). And from the way it sounds, leading like Christ, especially in this camp role, might look a little more like serving than we realize.
Josh “Zoosh” Hodges and Andrew “The GOAT” Rogers each gave us their reflections on what it was like to lead worship at a youth camp at Pine Cove, and their input was eye opening. Little did you know that those crispy hashbrowns you inhaled at breakfast were most likely served and plated up by the same person you saw tuning the guitar before Club. And the loads of fun you had on the blob at freetime yesterday? Made possible by the selfless soul who scrubbed the algae off its side. Both the same person, same guitar-worn calluses, and most likely invisible servant around camp: your worship leader.
Much like any other program position at camp, the days consist of lots of plug and play, some dirty jobs no one sees, and plenty of random “get to’s” as the staff likes to call them. Both guys we spoke with split their time between Worship Leader and Head Lifeguard, meaning their many responsibilities had to be spread out throughout the day in whatever puzzle piece fashion worked best. In a culture that emphasizes individualism, self expression, and entitlement, the role of worship leader instead cultivates an others-centered humility, one that Zoosh said made him “excitedly grateful.”
“This job taught me what it means to be a servant, to truly put others’ needs before my own… One of my goals for this [past] summer in particular as head of worship was to challenge the band spiritually, and force them to ask questions to themselves about why they really are here as a part of the band. ‘Leading worship’ is the most ironic job someone could have—we ultimately want to be invisible on stage. While we lead them in worship, we are pointing others to Christ, and not to us.” -Zoosh
At the Timbers, opening day meant “grill party” for the band while they cooked burgers for the entire camp. Goat equated it to the “most chill bro-sesh you’ve ever imagined,” complete with IBCs and the occasional steak thrown on when time allowed. Getting to do exactly what he was created to do, with people he loves, at camp was the whole package for Goat. It didn’t really matter what task was at hand, because of the purpose and fun packed into the moments.
Early on, Goat dreaded “bacon mornings” because of the amount of pan scrubbing that meant for him and the band, but they learned to do it together while belting out showtunes and appreciating the company. Knowing they were doing that so that the counselors could be outside having Gospel conversations with the kids made him scrub all the more vigorously.
Both guys agreed their favorite part of the job was the actual leading of the worship. Every night, for almost three months straight, they found themselves leading the camp in a time of worship, checking their hearts to make sure the time and environment was covered in prayer first, and ultimately leading people to exalt our Savior. They had countless memories and moments that stood out as “God stories,” but one stood out to Goat.
“The song Glorious Day by Passion has a certain refrain where all of the kids all run around in a circle at one time. One day a kid on crutches was stuck right in the middle of the crowd, so every time the chaos ensued, his senior counselor would get real big and spread a barrier fully around him, protecting him from the surroundings. And as I sang that song on stage, I began to tear up because of the picture of the Gospel right in front of me. It was a silly one for sure, but I got to see an otherwise helpless little boy completely surrounded and protected in the midst of trouble, by no doing of his own, and I sang the words about the glorious day that Jesus did the same for me in plucking me out of the chaos of my sin for His glory.” – Goat
When asked what he will take away from his time as worship leader, Zoosh said this: “Something that has inspired me about Bama (our camp director) since the day I met him two and half years ago is his zeal for God’s Word. He has an abundance of Scripture written on his heart that always seems to be prepared to fire the most essential passage right when you need it most. It’s a knowledge of Scripture that I want to have one day. His passion for the Kingdom and Jesus’ sacrifice for us is one reason why I came back to work at camp for my last summer.
Absolutely, camp has changed my life for the better. It truly has been an experience like iron sharpening iron. It’s a rough process that isn’t always pretty, but the result is of highest benefit and growth. I never would have guessed how camp has grown me practically and professionally. I’ve learned skills here that I’ll be able to take back home with me to my job after I graduate and as I lead worship for the rest of my life. I am so thankful for this place and how the Lord has used it in my life to strengthen my relationship with him and hopefully help further his Kingdom along the way.”
Andrew adds, “I am a completely different person because of the change God wrought in me through serving others here at camp. Having the opportunity to pour my life out for the summer was the greatest gift I can imagine.”
When Jesus was explaining life in the kingdom of God to his disciples, He knelt down to wash their feet. In the greatest act of selfless sacrifice, God the Father gave the life of his Son Jesus that we might have life in His name. It’s no wonder these worship leaders find it a privilege to work heartily for the good of others! If we can learn one thing from the way they serve, it is this: lose your life to save it, for this is the way of Jesus.