And He also told this parable to certain ones who trusted in themselves that their worship style was the only acceptable form:

“Four men went up in to the temple to pray, two traditional music directors and two contemporary worship leaders. One of the music directors stood and was praying thus to himself, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like many other church musicians: untrained, unrefined, undignified, or even like these contemporary worship leaders. I program only the finest art music; I present only those works truly worthy of Thee.’

“One of the contemporary worship leaders was standing off to the other side, praying like this: ‘O Lord, I thank You that I am not like many other church musicians: stuffy, inhibited, stuck in a rut of boring and irrelevant music of the past. I present only the very latest songs and reach people where they’re at.’

“In another corner the other music director and the other contemporary worship leader were kneeling and praying together. The music director prayed: ‘Lord God, You know how easily the striving for artistic excellence can become idolatrous. When I use my gifts, may I always remember that they come from Your hand, and that You delight in all of the genuine gifts of worship which Your children bring, in all of their variety.’ The worship leader prayed: ‘God, I only know four chords on the guitar, and I am not a polished performer; but I thank You for Your grace in allowing me to come near in worship, and for the privilege in leading others to Your throne. Thank You for all the different ways that Your people can praise You.’

“I tell you, these last two went away with their offerings of worship received by the Lord, rather than the others; for God is not so much concerned with the style of the musical gifts you bring, as He is with the humility of heart and genuineness of love with which you bring them.”

“The one who eats is not to regard with contempt the one who does not eat,
and the one who does not eat is not to judge the one who eats,
for God has accepted him.”
(Romans 14:3)


This blog post was contributed by Ron Man, our main speaker for the SEANG Conference 2018.

From Church Musician Today, May 1999.
© 1998 The Sunday School Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

2 Music Directors and 2 Worship Leaders Went to the Temple – A Modern Parable

Rev. Dr. Ron Man (M.M., Th.M., D.Min.) trained as an orchestra conductor, later attended Dallas Theological Seminary and has served as a pastor, missionary, and worship pastor. He is presently Pastor of Worship and Missionary in Residence at First Evangelical Church in Memphis, Tennessee, and also Director of Worship Resources International. He has taught on worship in 35 countries, maintains a website of free worship resources (, authors a monthly newsletter Worship Notes (, and posts daily Worship Quotables (; #WorshipQuotables). He wrote Proclamation and Praise: Hebrews 2:12 and the Christology of Worship (Wipf & Stock, 2007).

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