Several weeks ago, my wife was telling me about a video she had seen. It’s Hugh Jackman and the prospective cast of “The Greatest Showman” singing some of the songs from the film to executives in the hopes of getting the movie green-lit. Nothing too out of the ordinary, but then she explained that Jackman had to have surgery days before to remove a cancerous spot from his face, so he wasn’t supposed to sing. He was only there to show the execs that he would be in the movie and just be Hugh Jackman.
But during one of the songs, he could not be still. The emotion of the moment took over as he starts singing and takes the lead from the young man, Jeremy Jordan, who was singing his part. He sings the rest of the song and room absolutely goes insane. If you haven’t seen the clip, stop now and watch. It’s incredible.
There are some serious notes worship leaders can take from this video—because Hugh Jackman leads worship in this moment. He takes command of the room and conducts this group. And I think there are things worship leaders can learn from this performance.
He Believes in the Mission
Jackman wanted to see this movie get made. There are, of course, financial benefits of making this movie. Musicals are a bit en vogue, the story is intriguing, and there’s a great chance he would walk away with a handsome paycheck. But watching Jackman, there is more at stake. This song comes at the end of the film. My guess is, this song is probably near the end of the meeting.
There are other videos online with the cast and Jackman’s stand-in singing. He did not have to sing. If you notice, he quietly starts to sing alongside Jordan who is singing his part. But after a bit, it shifts, and he takes over. He knows the weight of the moment. As the potential top billing for the movie, he knows his voice matters. There is a confidence in his voice that commands attention from the room. And he takes it.
Worship leader, do you believe in the mission of the Church? Are you leading from a place of conviction that Jesus is the only remedy to the brokenness of the world? Your confidence should be notable because of the content of the songs we sing, not the talent you bring to the table. Interestingly, Hugh Jackman is quite possibly the least talented vocalist in that room. He is surrounded by Broadway singers and professional musicians, yet he leads the moment out of a conviction for the mission at hand.
He Is Engaged with Everyone
I remember early on as a worship leader, I thought I was supposed to create a moment. That I was supposed to act a certain way, usually with my eyes closed, so people could see me worship. I’ve come to understand that the worship leader is the leader of the room. And leaders engage with the people they are leading.
Watch Jackman in the clip. He looks at nearly every person in the room, even pointing at people, inviting them to sing this anthem with him. He is not creating a moment, he’s inviting people into the moment.
The Content of the Song Drives His Body Language
Again, as a young worship leader, I thought I had to be this serious, stern or tortured faced person singing into the mic. And again, I realized that not every song we sang demanded an intensely focused look. Some songs call for great rejoicing, so I should rejoice with an excited smile! As he leads this song, his emotions wax and wane with the emotions of the song. Granted, he is a great actor with training and experience in just such a moment, but we should do the same. It is okay for your face and body to tell people how they should feel in a song. Lead people to engage.
Of course, Hugh Jackman is a charismatic, once in a generation talent. There is no argument there. But the things he does in this clip can be replicated and adopted by worship leaders. Pay attention to this video and many others just like it. Lead your people.