rebelling against low expectations

What Worship Really Is (And What It Isn’t)


I used to think I knew what worship meant.

I used to think that worship was raising your hands while singing Chris Tomlin lyrics or praying passionately while soft piano chords played in the background. I used to think that worship was going to church on Sunday and Wednesday and participating in the service. I used to think that worship was doing all of the “church” things I was supposed to do as a Christian.

But I was wrong.

Those things are actually just an outpouring, external expression of my internal heart towards God.

That’s where we get mixed up.


We have become accustomed to thinking that worship is all about the external stuff. All about what we look like or what we do on the outside—like raising our hands or singing extra loud on “10,000 Reasons.”

But worship doesn’t start there. And maybe worship isn’t really all about that stuff after all.

Worship is about my response to God, through my attitude toward God, because of my love for God.

Therefore worship first begins in my heart.

I can be lifting my hands onstage as I sing fervently about how great our God is, but if my heart is far from him or I’m doing it for the wrong reasons, then I’m not really worshipping him at all.


Sometimes in trying to define what worship should and should not be, we lose sight of why we actually do it at all.

And this part is honestly a whole lot simpler than we sometimes like to make it.

We should be worshipping God because he is good, he is merciful to us, he loves us, and he deserves all of our worship and praise. (Psalm 145:8, Psalm 103:1-5, Revelation 4:11).

We worship God because of who he is, not because of what we can do.

Slowly, we’ve started to make worship more about a performance of ourselves and a parade of our own abilities, than a showcase of the glory of God and how worthy he is of our praise. When we become more concerned with how we sound and how we look when we worship, that’s when we realize that we’ve lost sight of why we’re actually doing any of this in the first place.

We worship because he is worthy. We worship because of all that he is.

It has nothing to do with us.


If worship is for God and it’s about my attitude towards God because of my love for him, then worship is so much bigger than the songs I sing or the church services I attend once a week.

Worship should become my lifestyle.

And if I can grasp a hold of this kind of worship than I can worship God all the time, every day, no matter what.

When I’m doing dishes, I can worship God with a cheerful attitude. When I’m at work, I can worship God by the way I interact and show his love to the people around me. When I’m doing my favorite hobby like writing, I can worship him through the words I type.

When my heart aches from grief, I can worship him by trusting him even when it doesn’t make sense. When I’m sad and broken, I can worship him by finding gratitude towards him in even the little things.

I can turn anything I do into an act of worship to God if it comes from my love for him and I do it with an attitude that wants to see him glorified above all else.

Worship is much different than we think. Worship is different than we’re sometimes taught in church.

So I challenge you: Rethink your worship. Rethink the kind of attitude you have when living your daily lifestyle. Rethink the way you sing songs and worship on Sunday mornings.

Rethink your worship and remember that worship is never about you. It’s always about him and how we can love and glorify him, no matter what we’re doing.

Have you worshipped him today?

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About the author

Bella Morganthal

Bella Morganthal (22) is a writing coach, editor, and author. She is passionate about leading teens and young adults to a relationship with Christ through her work as a Student Ministries Team Leader at a local church in Maryland. She’d love to hear from you.

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By Bella Morganthal
rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →