Hillsong's Brooke Ligertwood talks influence, building Christ's Kingdom, not one's own

Brooke Ligertwood, a worship leader and songwriter with Hillsong Worship, speaks ahead of the Forward Conference, June 2019.
Brooke Ligertwood, a worship leader and songwriter with Hillsong Worship, speaks ahead of the Forward Conference, June 2019. | Screenshot: Forward Conference

Brooke Ligertwood, a songwriter and worship leader at Hillsong Church, isn’t focused on numbers or popularity because that’s not what Jesus was about.

Commenting on how she remains content in her calling amid a host of successful Christian influencers and artists, Ligertwood said, “God didn’t ask me to be anybody else than me.”

While speaking to Free Chapel Youth Pastor Tyshone Roland at the Forward Conference earlier this summer, she pointed to a passage in the Bible where the Pharisees compare the number of people John the Baptist is baptizing to the number of people Jesus is baptizing.

When Jesus learned of this, He left.

“Jesus is like ‘peace, I’m out because I’m not about this,’” Ligertwood stated.

“It’s not about popularity, it’s not about influence; it’s like what kingdom are you building because if you’re slipping into comparing to all these other people, maybe the kingdom you’re trying to build is yours and not the Kingdom of Christ,” she noted.

“The way of Jesus is a narrow way and the way of Jesus is the way of the cross, which means self-denial.”

Songs produced by Hillsong Music regularly top music charts and groups under the music label, including Hillsong Worship and Hillsong United, are among the most popular Christian bands and are touted by celebrities including Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber.

With millions of followers on social media and millions of listens on music streaming apps, Hillsong Music artists have a massive global reach.

David Ware, a worship leader in Hillsong Worship, admitted to Roland that there is “a lot of opportunity to compare … even in our little bubble of Hillsong.”

But he chooses not to dwell on that.

“The grass you water is the grass that’ll grow. If you water the grass of comparison, that’s what going to grow in your life,” Ware said. “If you choose to water encouragement, that’ll grow in your life.

“It’s not if it happens, it’s when. When you start to compare, when you start to feel threatened, when you start to feel overlooked, just water the right garden and that’ll grow.”

Ligertwood, who wrote “Hosanna” and the Grammy award-winning song “What a Beautiful Name,” emphasized that ultimately she cannot determine the fruit of the ministry; only God can.

“It’s God’s business what He does with you. Your business is to be yielded to Him. Your business is to read your Bible and try your best to do what it says with the help of the Holy Spirit and what the fruit is is not up to you; let it be God’s because then God will get the glory,” she said.

She and others on her worship team were asked by Roland what advice they would give to young people who want to give their life to worship.

Ligertwood responded, “You have to spend way more time leading yourself in worship than you lead other people in worship. If you don’t know how to lead yourself somewhere in the presence of God, if you’re not spending more time doing that, then you’re never going to be able to lead people where God truly wants to lead them.”

Additionally, people should not find their identity in what they do, including worship leading, she said.

“We have to be able to live open-handed with everything that God would entrust us with and be willing to part with all of it because it’s about us becoming more like Jesus more than it is about necessarily fulfilling dreams, which … I think can be confusing sometimes. But you find in following Jesus and surrendering everything to Him that you find you’re living the life more than you could ever have imagined anyway.”

Hillsong Worship leaders joined the Forward Conference late June in Duluth, Georgia, where thousands of students gathered to hear from such pastors as Carl Lentz and Jentezen Franklin and worship together.

Ligertwood encouraged young students to spend less time on social media and to instead fall in love with the Word of God by building the discipline of reading Scripture constantly.

“It’s going to create in your mind a healthy environment that actually nourishes your soul,” she said.

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