You'll have to indulge me on this post, gang. Normally, I write these things with worship leaders in mind. Every time I sit down at the keys, my aim is simple - to take the lessons learned from my worship leading experiences and share them online as a way to encourage others.
But sometimes, I write these for me.
I still maintain that worship songs and hymns are the hardest form of music to write. There are so many unique challenges in trying to create something a congregation will both benefit from and enjoy singing. But as difficult as it may be, those of who write these sorts of songs are hooked. (We can't help but write 'em and think about 'em and analyze 'em!) And once you start building some skill in songwriting, something happens.
YOU START THINKING YOU'RE GOOD.
People in your church are singing your songs telling you how much they enjoy them and you suddenly realize, "Hey, I'm a legit songwriter. What's next?" You keep writing, but you're also thinking about other churches doing your songs - cause that would mean you're a FOR-REAL SONGWRITER. Or making an album - that would definitely be a PRO SONGWRITER move. Or what if your songs started showing up on other peoples' albums? That must feel awesome, you think.
But here's what I know after leading worship and writing songs since I was 14 years old; after all the camps and retreats and DNOWs and churches I've worked at, I'm convinced of one thing as a songwriter:
IT DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER THAN YOUR PEOPLE SINGING YOUR SONGS.
A check from CCLI or your name on iTunes pales in comparison to hearing the people you care about being blessed by something you wrote. That's it. That's the pinnacle of songwriting - not signing a contract or making records or gaining a reputation as a writer. You'll never reach a career accomplishment more profoundly humbling or important than your church singing your songs.
Aim for excellence. Write a lot of songs. And by all means, if God blesses you with a songwriting career, go for it. But never forget that you started out trying to write things people could sing. And it doesn't get better than that.