Meredith Sharp’s passion is to be a worship leader. From Wilson, North Carolina, she is a project manager for a healthcare IT company, a vocalist lead out on the worship team at Elevation Church Raleigh, and eGroup leader there, among other things. And she’s only 23.
My first time meeting Meredith was in August of 2015, at one of the Actors, Models and Talent for Christ Launch weekends (a 2-day training event) in Atlanta, Georgia. Both of us were there as singers, training for one of the bi-annual SHINE events in Orlando, Florida, which is a huge conference where aspiring talent of all ages auditions for professionals representing nationally and internationally-recognized record labels, modeling agencies and other industry brands. In the AMTC training program, trainees are required to participate in a few other showcases, besides the one(s) they are planning to audition for, such as acting and modeling.
It was the “Scene Read” prep showcase, and we were 2 out of 4 people in a group who had to memorize a script, assign characters to each other, and decide how each prop on stage would be utilized, all within 30 minutes! We freaked out a little, but that short amount of time was all it took for the 2 of us to connect and begin a God-directed friendship.
Yesterday we shared a conversation in which we were able to share some of the everyday things going on in our lives, but I was so excited that I had the opportunity to find out more about her background, who she is as an artist, and the themes that God is weaving into her life experiences.
I asked her when she began singing, and what made her decide that she wanted to become a worship leader.
“My first solo in church was when I was in 5th grade – Easter Sunday – I was supposed to be at the beach. My aunt said that someone needed to sing this song, ‘Here I Am to Worship’, and I still to this day love singing that song. It brings me to tears.” On when she realized her calling: “When I was 15, I was in youth group, and I just remember – as soon as the sermon was over, he gave an altar call…I just went down to the altar with my face in my hands, crying. I just knew God was calling me to join the worship team.”
We turned to songwriting, and as any songwriter can relate, it is not only a challenging process, but also a practice that is hard to sustain when you don’t feel inspired.
“I had my highlight reel in 2012, and I haven’t written much since then,” she laughed softly, seemingly somewhat self-conscious. “I was younger, a freshman/sophomore in college – busy, played sports, had more free time to write. I had just really discovered this passion, and it was almost the honeymoon stage. I wrote a song in 2015, which was really cool. I stopped writing in grad school – didn’t have time. It’s been difficult to just sit down and write, but if I’m in the car or something, I always try to write down in my phone so I won’t forget it.”
However, she has recently been revitalized with a different perspective that is circulating fresh themes for future songs. “A lot of the songs we do at Elevation are based off of biblical stories. ‘Do It Again’ is about the Israelites walking around the walls of Jericho… ‘Walking around these walls/I thought by now they’d fall/But You have never failed me yet’.” It speaks of God’s faithfulness, a daily reminder for her that God has begun this work in her heart, and He will see it to completion. “I try to get lost in these Bible stories, and not to get too artsy and weird, but really feel the emotions of the stories.” Most recently she’s been inspired by the story of Hannah, and the patience she had to develop when God had promised her Samuel. “There’s a lot that I’ve been praying and asking God for, so I can really relate to Hannah.”
God has many avenues which He gives each of us to discover His will for our lives. What is that for Meredith?
“Kim Walker does a lot of teachings about leading worship in general. Steffany Gretzinger, Elevation teachings – I get that on the Raleigh campus. I try to pull from them different ways I can build myself as far as being a worship leader…am I being a good steward of what God’s given me?” She learns a lot from being a vocalist lead out and getting training from her worship team leaders at church, and other leaders in contemporary Christian music, including Jenn and Brian Johnson, co-founders of Bethel Music.
The most evident theme that God is pouring into her life currently is preparation.
“A lot of the times, I go, ugh, I’ve sung this song a million times, I don’t need to practice, I’ll be fine…just because you know the lyrics, you know the tune – doesn’t mean there isn’t preparation that you can’t take someone to a place they haven’t been before. One of my biggest challenges at church is making it fresh and new every time I sing it – emphasis on different things, and going deeper in our songs.”
Before we ended our conversation, I wanted to capture some final thoughts on what God is speaking to her now.
“If I’ve learned anything in the past year, His main words to me have been, ‘Just praise Me. Just worship Me.’ That’s all God really wants. True worship is giving your life – my arms are held high, I’m living in surrender. Instead of complaining, when you just raise your hands and praise God, He honors that and the enemy has to take a step back.”
During our entire dialogue, I could hear and feel where Meredith’s heart and desires lie. She is single-minded in her purpose, and as she pursues God’s calling on her life, I know He will continue to guide her into heights she couldn’t even envision. The last thing she said really showed me not only her desire to follow God’s will, but the drive she has to make sure her focus stays there:
“Worship is a battle; and if I’m not prepared, I’ll lose the fight.”
Meredith’s songs, “Sun Stand Still” and “Pour Out” can be found on iTunes under Life after Living, and on YouTube!