To the question in this first line of an old hymn, many a music minister would cry out (at least on the inside), “YES!!! YES!!” In fact, many of our brothers and sisters serving in music ministry in our day would say, “I am flat out pooped!”
As I trust all of you who read this blog know, I try to be available in a pastoral role among our music and worship ministry leaders in Tennessee. Note that I can never take the place of your local church pastor, nor is that ever the intent. I recognize, however, that there are times and situations when an ear other than that of your local pastor is needed. When that is the case, I certainly desire to be available for listening, prayer, support, and encouragement. I sense this is an important part of my own calling to life and ministry.
One of the common walls many of us have run into, and others may have just not arrived there yet, is exhaustion. There are many factors contributing to the exhausted state of the worship ministry leader. I believe there is a difference in just being tired from the “work of our hands,” and having the proverbial air let out of our tires, whereby we begin to feel we just have no energy left for the work we are called to do. Even in seminary I always heard about certain years of ministry that seemed to present hurdles — years #3, #7, #10, as I recall. I think after the ten year mark the challenge points tend to stretch out to every five year anniversary perhaps. In our new day, I believe there are new pressures that may tweak this schedule of inflated challenge, but the principles are likely the same. In today’s church culture music ministers seem to suffer from things that are far more prevalent in church environments like:
- American Idol mentality
- Confusion as to the value and limitations of different kinds of education – this includes the mere volume of educational options and differing effects each type might have longterm
- Misconceptions of worship, such as thinking that music and worship are synonymous
- Technological demands for worship and daily work routines
- Changing music styles and pressures to keep up
- Severe limitations of time offered by volunteers – includes pressures on children, youth, school and sports scheduling as well as adults’ schedules for work, travel, and leisure
- Absence of developmental approach in other areas of church discipleship growth
There are probably many other reasons for our fatigue. I believe, however, the most frequent offender as reflected in all the above and more is misplaced expectations. Such dynamics may come from pastor, people, or the origin I see most often, self. Each of these options deserve careful analysis, such that a more healthy lifestyle can make possible a more full tenure in our ministry to family, our church, as well as colleagues and friends. For brevity’s sake, I want to address only a few expectations that spring from self, especially since other expectations of pastor and people may in fact be as much presumed as real, and may in fact spring from self expectancies. Do you relate to any of these?
- Performancism which “sees achievement not as something we do or don’t do, but rather as something we are or aren’t. In performancism success equals life and failure equals death.”
- Misunderstanding of our role of facilitation and encouragement to be “making something happen.” We may have interpreted the scripture “don’t grow weary in well-doing” to mean everything is up to us, rather than finding the joy of relational ministry that trusts the Spirit.
- Temptation to compare our gifts and ministry with others, rather than seeing the gifts the Spirit has given us in His grace.
- Not setting or maintaining appropriate boundaries in our schedules, our relationships, our challenges to which we respond
- Recognizing those in our ministries as pawns in our endeavors, rather than persons made in God’s image
- Crippling evaluations by short term accomplishments, rather than longterm development of persons and corporate bodies of ministry action and discipleship
- Predominantly numerical measurements as primary means of assessment
The Lord gives every moment of every day that we have of life. Our stewardship (our worship) includes how we treat the lives we ourselves are given, and to what we apply energy, time, and attitude. As whole human beings seeking to serve our Lord in a manner consistent with who HE has made us to be, I pray you and I will grow in our acceptance of His love and grace as His best gifts. I pray we will be able in fresh ways to see His hand at work in the joys, sorrows, successes and challenges of those with whom we serve. Let us find new hope and strength in knowing He will make a way, and learn to rest “In Christ Alone!” Here is a great hymn by our friends, Keith & Kristyn Getty that I find is a great prayer with which to start my working day: