David is a guy I’ve been following for a while from a distance. He writes regularly about worship leading on his site, DavidSantistevan.com, and is a worship leader at a great church in the Pittsburgh area.
He also hosts the Beyond Sunday Worship Leader Podcast where he weekly talks with some great worship leaders, songwriters, and others in order to help worship leaders grow in the heart, skill, and calling of worship leading.
I really appreciate David’s honest writing style and his ability to help you focus on what really matters when it comes to growing as a worship leader. His 5 Questions show nothing less than all of this, check it out.
Name || David Santistevan
Church & Role || Allison Park Church, Worship Pastor
Main Instrument || Guitar
Fun Fact || I have a tendency to say “crap” instead of “clap” from the stage. 🙂
(All Emphasis from Chris)
1) How did you learn to/get into leading worship?
My involvement in worship never happened because I wanted to. It happened because people in my life saw something in me, believed in me, and called me out.
I started out playing keys in middle school, not having a clue what I was doing. Then I started to lead worship in high school but never thought it would work because I never sang before. But as I stepped out I found my passion for God and my passion for music collide into somewhat of a “calling.” I knew it was what I wanted to do – create environments where people can see, feel and experience the presence of God.
2) What is the most helpful habit you have developed as a Worship Leader?
I think just the habit of trusting the Holy Spirit. It’s not my job to “usher” people into His presence or whip the room into an emotional frenzy. Jesus is our worship leader and leads us to the Father by the power of the Spirit.
When I know this and lead with this in mind, I’m a better leader because I know my place and I’m respecting the cross and what Jesus accomplished for us, enabling us to draw near. It keeps me less mindful of myself and more mindful of Jesus.
3) What has helped you develop as a Worship Leader?
Being a constant learner. Listening to a lot of worship music. Watching a lot of worship leaders. I’ve adopted a life posture of always learning. I never want to get to a place where I know it all. I learn from anyone and everyone.
Also feedback from people close to me always helps. The affirmation from the crowds is nice, but you can’t let it get too close to your heart. The honest feedback from trusted friends, pastors, and leaders is what I take to heart.
4) What’s one thing you wish you would have known 10 years ago?
That I should be more influenced by the needs of my congregation than the latest and greatest worship album. Knowing who I’m leading and why they’re coming to church makes such a difference in how I lead.
People aren’t coming for music. They don’t come to church to attend a concert or appreciate your musical intricacies. They are coming for peace in the midst of their storms. They are coming to Jesus. Wow, I wish I would have known that as a young worship leader. I would have been less self absorbed.
5) If you could only give one piece of advice to a growing Worship Leader, what would it be?
Probably what I said in #2: trust the Holy Spirit. Learn how He works, what He does. Keep your eyes open and see what God is doing as you lead. Be influenced by the people you lead. Develop a pastoral heart, not just a musical passion. The local church isn’t a place to grow your music career. It will help you develop, for sure. But it’s more of a pastoral, people oriented role than it is a music career choice.
I loved how David really emphasized the importance of not only leading in a way that is responsive to the Holy Spirit, but also the importance of learning how He works and simply following Him. Its not always about repeating an extra Chorus or finding the right words to say, as the Holy Spirit is capable of moving in a myriad of ways. Love that!
David’s involved with Allison Park Worship and they’ve released several great albums, including their live album Undying Love and their new single, “Never Looking Back.” There’s some great stuff there, and it’s worth your time to check it out. Really excited about all the work David’s helping to foster at Allison Park!