Skill and Anointing
Within the Body of Christ there are widely differing perspectives on many issues, and two of these issues – skill and anointing - we can find at opposite ends of the spectrum.
In the ‘Skill’ camp are people who say “My goodness, you can’t just bring any old thing to God and expect Him to be blessed. He’s the King of Kings and He deserves the best! So we’ve got to have the best arrangements, the best musicians and singers and excellence at the highest levels.”
In the ‘Anointing’ camp are people who say “It’s the anointing that break the yoke! So what if you’ve got a whole orchestra; if you haven’t got the anointing all you’ve got is a loud clanging sound.” The Holy Spirit isn’t going to leave if someone plays a wrong note here or there.
Both groups of people are totally convinced of the ‘rightness’ of their theological position, and both groups hold their stance out of a love for God and wanting to please Him. The enemy doesn’t mind what the issue is, he just loves to polarize the Body of Christ and get different factions fighting against each other. That way he wins because the unity is broken and the blessing cannot be poured out on God’s people.
Skill or Anointing?
So what does please God? What does Scripture advocate – Skill or Anointing? The answer is …. both.
Ps 33:3 says “Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.”
Is 10:27 … and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.
1John 2:27 As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you… His anointing teaches you about all things
To help us more, let’s define what we mean by the words Skill and Anointing.
When we talk about skill we are talking about ‘our ability’
When we talk about the Anointing we are talking about God’s ability, His power, His presence and His activity – in other words what He is doing during that particular service.
On the ‘Anointing’ side of the equation, when we talk about what God/the Holy Spirit is doing in a service we must at the same time look at a very important aspect of that, which is – our ability to sense what the Holy Spirit is doing, and what is happening in the spirit realm.
On the ‘Skill’ side of the equation we are looking at our ability to interpret or reinforce that activity and atmosphere musically.
What dictates what I play?
Let’s ask an interesting question: If I am a musician, what is that dictates what I play? There could be a variety of responses here –
- The style of music that I personally prefer
- What is acceptable in my culture (church or national)
- What will most impress the people I’m playing in front of
- What I find to be the most musically interesting and stimulating
- What is happening in the spirit realm
Why do film makers put music in behind the action in the film? They do it to create an atmosphere. What dictates the sort of music they put in any given scene? The action in the scene. What should dictate what I play musically in a service? The activity in the spirit realm.
Interpreting the activity in the Spirit Realm
There is far more to being involved in a worship team than just having the ability to play or sing well. My skill must be linked to my ability to sense what the Holy Spirit is doing. I am called, as a musician, to reinforce and undergird what the Holy Spirit is doing during that service. The most skilled musician is not the person who can do the most clever things, but the one who can deliver in a song or an atmosphere, just what the song or atmosphere needs – no more, no less.
So we actually see that Skill and Anointing are not in opposition to each other; they are both parts of the same whole.
An interesting thing to note is that in most worship teams the team members vary in their ability to sense what the Holy Spirit is doing and what is happening in the spiritual realm, and they vary in their ability to interpret that atmosphere musically. Most are stronger in one area than the other.
How do we sense what’s happening?
What are some of the factors that determine our ability to sense what the Holy Spirit is doing and what is happening in the spiritual realm?
- The level of our relationship with the Lord – how close we are to Him
- The level of our obedience – the more we obey, the more we hear
- Sin that is undealt with – this causes a blockage between us and Him
- The level of our hunger – how much do we really want to hear His voice and know what He’s doing?
- Our spiritual gifts – a person with a prophetic gift is likely to be more sensitive to God’s voice and more easily discern what is happening in the spiritual realm than a person who doesn’t have that gift
Our desire should be to grow in both areas – ability to sense and ability to interpret – but there will most likely be varying levels of ability in these areas among the members of the worship team.
The enemy can exploit those differences and use them to his advantage if we let him and God can help us use those differences to flow together in a stronger way. The choice is ours.
Let me give you a real life example to illustrate. A number of years ago I had the opportunity to visit a Church that was experiencing major moves of God in their worship services. The worship was free-flowing and a lot of what happened was more spontaneous than orchestrated. The person leading the worship ministry at that time was a man named Ralph. He was a skilled musician – a violinist and pianist – and was studying to become a conductor of an orchestra. He was also a mature Christian with a love for God and sensitivity to His voice. The senior leader of that Church was a man by the name of Peter and his primary spiritual gift was prophetic. Because of that gifting, and his position as senior leader, he would pick things up in the Spirit in regard to things that God wanted to do that Ralph would not pick up or sense.
This was a classic scenario where the differences in spiritual sensitivity and musical giftedness came into play. What would happen was Peter would sense something that God wanted to do in the worship and he would walk over to Ralph on the piano and share with him what he felt God saying. Ralph may not have sensed this but would then take what Peter sensed and flow with that musically and so each person’s strength was able to supplement the other’s weakness, because Peter couldn’t play a note or do anything musically.
This could have played out very differently if they had allowed the enemy to have his way. He always wants us to exploit the weaknesses of other team members. Peter could have gone to Ralph and said “Ralph, where do you think you’re going? That’s not where God is saying to go at the moment.” And Ralph could have responded by saying “Well you play the piano and lead it then!”
Let’s seek to grow in our ability to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, to respond to Him in our daily life, and also to grow in our vocal and instrumental abilities as well. Ability to sense is developed by intimacy of relationship with the Lord. Ability to interpret musically is developed by training and practice.