Burnout in the worship leader community is not unusual. In fact, itās almost the norm. How many times have you been to a worship conference where the messaging went something like, āWe know you are burned out. This conference is a chance for you to rechargeā? We need more than a recharge. We need a paradigm shift.
Iāve been leading worship for over 25 years and while I used to live in a constant volunteer/burnout/dropout/recover cycle, Iāve found a different rhythm thatās kept leading worship a joyful expression for me. Here are 5 things Iāve learned that keep me from crashing.
Keep a right perspective
Wrong perspective leads to wrong thinking and that leads to wrong habits. Some wrong perspectives Iāve had: believing that āworshipā was up to me (itās not), believing that when I accomplish x I will have reached the finish line (there is no finish line), believing excellence means perfection (it doesnāt). The list goes on. Understanding my identity as a child of God has gone a long way in righting my perspective. Worship isnāt up to me. The Holy Spirit works in spite of me. Itās just a huge gift that he lets me be a part of it. Nothing I accomplish adds up to anything compared to knowing Christ and there is no end to that. Praise from people is nice because Iām doing my best to serve them, but itās not the measure of my success. Technical ability is great but some of my best worship leading sessions have been riddled with mistakes.
If burnout is a regular part of your worship leading rhythm, itās time to find a new rhythm.
You didnāt join the worship team to be a part of the worldās greatest cover band. Playing the same arrangements of the same songs with the same sounds can become a mindless chore. Sure, sometimes itās a necessity, but injecting inspiration into your set is a way to stay out of meltdown mode. Maybe you completely rearrange a song in a different style. Maybe you change up the set list to allow more space for improvisation. Maybe you combine scripture, music and visuals to create a multimedia piece for meditation. Being intentional about the music you are creating is a great way to stay inspired -- and thatās the opposite of burnout.
Time with God is the well from which everything else is drawn.
Fill the Well
Youāve got nothing to offer if your tank is always empty. How can you lead a public worship life if you donāt lead a private one? Everyday before I get going on Worship Artistry, I spend time in contemplative prayer and worship. Waiting on God, listening for His voice and offering praise and gratitude is the most important part of my morning because itās the well from which everything else is drawn. Take time to fill the well.
Lean on your team
Gosh this is a tough one for me. Iām terrible at delegation. What Iāve recognized is that taking all the responsibility myself actually hinders my team from growing. When Iām willing to share the work (and I mean all of it, not just boring stuff!), my team takes more ownership and gains confidence. It might make me a bit anxious to let go but it doesnāt compare to the anxiety of taking on everything myself. As my former colleague used to say, āIf you do it alone, you deserve to do it alone.ā
If you are a skilled pilot, youāll recognize when the plane is going down and pull up before you crash. I still push myself too hard at times. I still get off-center, but the beauty of getting healthy is that you gain the ability to recognize when you are becoming unhealthy. Donāt keep flying at the ground. Notice the signs before you are in crisis mode. Check in with yourself. When was the last time you spent some time in off-stage worship? What do you find inspiring about this week's worship set? Why are you so down on yourself after a tough worship set? Struggling in these areas might be a warning that the plane is going down.
We need more than a recharge. We need a paradigm shift.
Leading worship is a great privilege. If burnout is a regular part of your worship leading rhythm, itās time to find a new rhythm. Start with filling the well. The Holy Spirit has a way of shining light on things we donāt even know are living in the dark. Remember, itās not all up to you. Press into your source and find He is all you need.