An Essential Question for Busy Worship Leaders
As worship leaders, we have the amazing job of serving the church. Most likely, that service extends beyond what happens for an hour on a stage each week.
You’re probably spending time casting vision, planning your set, connecting with your leaders, and pastoring your team. And depending on the size of your church, your job description might also include doing extra activities like being the youth pastor, children’s pastor, planning announcements, and maybe even being the entire media department.
Today, I have a simple but important question for you: does your work come home with you?
Do you spend time outside of the nine-to-five work week doing worship-related tasks? Now, I realize that you may have a full-time job and worship leading may be a secondary or volunteer job. But either way, the same principle applies. It’s important to set some boundaries so that your work as a worship leader does not begin to infringe on the other areas of your life. Granted, there may be times when an emergency or special circumstance requires that more time be devoted to your worship-leader role during a given week, but in general, the goal is to spend your allotted time attending to your job as a worship leader and then be able to set it aside in order to spend time on other pursuits.
Whether you’re a full-time or part-time worship leader, there will always be more that you could do. There will always be more planning, more meetings, and more pastoring you could do with your team. But in order to avoid getting overworked and burned out, you need to set realistic expectations of what your role as a worship leader should look like in any given season. You need to be able to say no to things that will require a greater time commitment than you are prepared to give, while still maintaining a healthy balance between your work and personal life.
A friend of mine once told me about a church at which he had worked where the pastor mandated that his staff not work outside of regular office hours. He wanted them to put in their nine-to-five and then go spend time with their families, rest, and have recreational time. The pastor was so passionate about this rule that if a member of his staff sent a work-related email during off-hours, he would confront him or her about it.
This pastor understood that true success wasn’t simply growing a church or ministry. He understood that there was a greater call God had given him: to value people above ministry. He valued the hearts of the people under his care more than he valued a successful church. This pastor understood that it’s in the place of balance that people’s hearts come alive and thrive and that family, rest, and time to rejuvenate are a necessary part of that formula.
Perhaps you find yourself in a different situation than the one at my friend’s church. You might be given more responsibilities and have greater expectations placed upon you than your time allows. Or perhaps you are putting too much pressure on yourself and your team to learn new songs every week or rehearse beyond what your schedules allow.
If this is the case and you find yourself so swamped with your duties as a worship leader that you regularly bring work home, I highly encourage you to talk to your pastor or leadership about the situation. When you are overburdened and overwhelmed, you will not be giving your best at work or at home. Time spent with the Lord might even begin to take a backseat to time spent serving Him as a worship leader. Whether the pressure you’re feeling is self-imposed or is coming from your church staff or another source, an open and honest conversation about the situation is a great place to start.
Do you find yourself working a lot on worship-related business during your off-hours? Is that sustainable for the long term? I’d love to hear what your experience has been in this area.
Huge thanks to my friend Jordan Vanderplate for letting me use this photo of Birch Bay, WA. Check out more of his work here.