Morgan Faleolo is a Bethel Music worship leader and has joined the recent VICTORY Tour by Bethel Music across the USA. During his time as a worship leader, Morgan has discovered that familiarity with God can hinder not only our relationship with Him but how we lead others. In this blog post, Morgan shares two keys to sustaining hunger for God.
I was born and raised in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. Growing up I attended the Samoan Methodist Church, where my first encounters with God took place—in a cold hall with a heater that was only there for decoration, and a not so great Yamaha piano. It was terribly out of tune, had sticky keys, and a squeaky sustain pedal. I played this piano while another guy played guitar, and my cousin would stomp his feet and clap for rhythm. Huddled in our circle, we sang songs about Him and to Him, and we wept.
These moments and encounters I had with God were what has shaped me today. We didn’t have the best equipment, but we worshiped God. Now when I lead worship with amazing equipment and the best sound, I think about how the presence of God was no different back then. He has never changed, He has always been present.
Our pastor Bill Johnson says that familiarity is the enemy of hunger. Over the last year of living in Redding, I have been met with a challenge—the things of God that used to be exciting for me started to become familiar. I felt myself losing curiosity and hunger for more.
When I realized the state of my heart, I knew I couldn’t stay where I was, so I began to ask myself several questions. Here are 2 questions to ask yourself as tools for sustaining a lifestyle of hunger for God.
1. What areas of my life do I think that I know the fullness of who God is?
I realized I had come to a place where I subconsciously thought I had experienced it all. I’d become content and lost my desire to pursue more of Him. If I was to fully know everything about God, or have Him “figured out,” He wouldn’t be God, and there would be no need for Him. I would know all the secrets of heaven and the answers to everything.
When I assume I know the extent of an aspect of God, I close myself off from encountering Him in new ways.
For example, I thought I had seen the extent of God’s faithfulness. In doing so I was closing myself off to Him showing Himself faithful to me in new ways. But the truth is we can never exhaust His goodness.
2. Have I begun to develop “preferences” of how I’ll let God move me or how I expect Him to come?
Some of the most memorable experiences I had with God were playing that Yamaha piano with sticky keys, where God’s presence marked me forever. As believers, we can develop preferences of how we want to interact with God. Whether it’s the style or quality of a worship set, the type of message, or even how we expect God to encounter us.
When we develop preferences, we are making an omnipresent and infinite God finite by defining how He will meet us.
As a Christian, I am a student of the presence of God—I’m always learning. If I’m stubborn in my preferences, I become less teachable. There’s a difference between having a certain expectation and being expectant.
A person with an expectation says, “God, come meet us like this.” An expectant person says, “Come.”
Sometimes we can miss God because of our preferences. It’s like seeing God but putting ear mufflers on. You can’t hear what He’s saying so you return to your default—what you’ve heard Him say before.
Preferences Hinder Leadership
I was leading the song “Touch of Heaven” at Bethel Church this year, and I usually have a certain arrangement for how I lead songs. I had planned to finish off the song with a big bridge, but I remember God said, “No, trust me.” So I brought the song down and sang the bridge quietly. When I did that, God showed up in a powerful moment that I couldn’t have conjured up on my own.
I realized in that moment, “Oh, You’re not running beside me, You’re in front of me.”
In the moment, I didn’t feel like anything significant happened after I obeyed God’s voice. It actually felt foreign to me, because I wasn’t going down my default route of how I lead songs. Later I received feedback and comments about how God touched people’s lives during the song, and it was really eye-opening for me.
I realized that my tendencies can actually be a hindrance to my leadership if they aren’t aligned with God’s voice at that moment.
Becoming content and familiar with God causes us to become stagnant, like the Dead Sea. I won’t be able to sustain anything, even if God speaks to me, because His words are too familiar. I want to stay in wonder and remain in wonder.
Worship leaders—keep it simple. Love God with all your heart, mind, body and soul. Grow in love with Him. Love doesn’t become content or familiar—it continues to pursue with confidence while remaining open to more. I believe that as you continue to surrender to Him, you are going to see God move in ways you’ve never imagined because there is always more of His heart to discover.
Watch Morgan lead “Touch of Heaven”