What separates the good worship guitarist from the great worship guitarist? The mastery of not just musicianship and technique, but also character and attitude. Here are some elements of a great worship guitarist.
Humility: This doesn’t mean a lack of confidence, or worse, false humility. This does mean you can take constructive criticism well. It means you are not afraid to admit your shortcomings. You know you have a lot to learn and you can learn from anyone. Furthermore, you are not personally offended when someone says to turn your volume down (I pray it doesn’t happen to you). Your primary motivation is to serve your worship ministry and church, not to showcase your own talent and amazing tone.
Dependability: From getting to practice on time to knowing your parts, your worship leader needs to be confident in every aspect of your playing and habits. This means you show up on time, your gear works, you consistently sound good, and you know your part. When a worship leader is looking at a set list for a worship service, they will feel the pressure of any “unknown factors” or “X Factors.” To be a great worship guitarist you must remove yourself from this list of X Factors. Starting now, create a reputation of being dependable and giving your worship ministry consistent quality not just in music, but also in attitude and habits.
Musicianship: Know where you fit in the grand scheme of things and in the grand scheme of things we’re not all that. A great worship guitarist knows how the guitar needs to work in worship music. Guitar isn’t everything. Use your guitar to complement the worship service and don’t let your ego convince you it should be more showcased than needed.
Technique: You may not be able to play Van Halen’s “Eruption” but that’s okay. What you can do is play the licks, riffs and signature solos that your worship leader throws at you. Maybe your need some time to practice it, look it up on youtube, find tab, etc., but when it comes to rehearsal time you can play the riff evenly, smoothly and clearly.
There are two things we can take away from this: First, a great guitarist in secular music looks a lot different from a great guitarist in worship ministry. Second, you are probably closer to being a “great worship guitarist” than you think.
P.S. This isn’t a complete list. If you think of some other elements, please share with us in the comments.