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Too much of a good thing?

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  • Too much of a good thing?

    I love a good cookie. Peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, chocolate chip... I'm also hungry at the moment, so all the analogies I can think of are food-related.

    Lately, as a worship leader I feel like I'm in a room full of cookies in a house full of cookies in a yard full of cookies. There are different kinds of cookies, but cookies nevertheless.

    I love cookies, but I feel like I'm buried in them and my job requires me to continue mixing, baking, tasting and serving cookies week after week, month after month and year after year. I feel simultaneously grateful that I get to do this as my job, and really guilty for this overwhelming ennui. That's ironic--"overwhelming ennui."

    During college I worked for a factory, welding truck and SUV accessories. The job was repetitive and uninspiring, but then--no one expected my work to be "inspired." It just had to be consistant in quality and quantity. So it was ok.

    Leading worship is different--yeah, it's my job but I've never felt ok with treating it as "just a job." It's always been really important that the songs/prayers/thoughts/leading came from somewhere honest inside.

    I still have a desire for God--I lead my children and family toward Him the best I can, but honestly I have no desire to read the Bible. I've been reading, studying, referencing, memorizing, quoting it since I was born. I don't even want to sing another worship song. I just want to run away from it all. I don't want to go to another tradeshow--oops, sorry--I mean "worship conference."

    I don't know what to do.

  • #2
    Is it feasible for you to take a Sabbatical for a few weeks or months, without jeopardizing you job or income? It sounds like you need a vacation from your job, and more than just one Sunday away.

    This sounds like the same burnout that affects pastors, and causes thousands of them to get out of the ministry every year. Rather than a conference, find a way to spend some time alone; time to reflect, to pray, to re-energize, and to reconnect with your Savior.

    I sincerely hope you can regain your first love without having to completely walk away from it. I will add you to my prayer list, Trent.


    • #3
      I'd highly recommend an extended sabbatical.

      Practical Worship

      Please Pray For My Wife


      • #4
        I think it is really hard to understand what drives a worship leader. Somehow, there is a passion for creating and leading the worship experience. It is sort of like something that turns two dimensional black and white into 3d color. Burnout leaves you stuck in 2dbw.

        Each person obviously has differing needs, but the thing we have in common is the ability to seek out our Creator, and ask for fresh wind and fresh fire. If you are 2dbw, it is time to seek Him out. My personal prescription is time. Time allows for you to breathe, to gain perspective, and to rest. Many times just being worn out can reduce you to a 2dbw state. Rest in the Lord as well. If scripture and song are stale, simplify, and seek out His creation. I spent a short bit of time on the Appalachian Trail in VA. Hiking and camping were a wonderful way to regain 3dc. Time for an ongoing, extended conversation with God can be amazing.

        The other thing to think about is understanding what is driving your current state of mind. If it is not burnout or lack of sufficient rest, is it outside or family situations? Is it not being able to deflect the pressure and criticisms that come with the role? Is it political strife within the ministry? Or, have you been in this role too long, and don't feel like you are making a difference? Is it possible you don't even know why? Any way you look at it, you need time.

        I agree with time off. I don't know if extended time, or even just a couple weeks is the answer. Pray, consult your most trusted friends, and seek Him. I pray that you can be restored to the role that God created for you, in full, glorious 3dc.

        Blessings, peace, and joy...
        Last edited by sycamoredave; 04-25-2012, 06:14 AM.


        • #5
          Originally posted by sycamoredave View Post
          The other thing to think about is understanding what is driving your current state of mind.
          Sabbatical may indeed be the answer but, as Dave pointed out, it is important to understand the cause of your current funk. God needs to take you through it rather than just take a break from it.

          One thing to keep in mind is that leading worship is a leadership function. Yes, artistry and culture are aspects of the role, but it is first-and-foremost a role that requires great leadership skills. Prayer, vision, mission, discipleship, mentoring, coaching, etc. should be the focus of a good leader. Removing the barriers between you from those priorities should be the matters that you are discussing with your senior pastor, elders, and team.

          I regret the way your world seems to be treating you right now. I thank you for your honesty about your situation and pray that the Holy Spirit leads you to a place, physical or otherwise, where you can heal.

          Peace be with you,
          "Rock On" (Matt 7:24-25)

          Dave Brown


          • #6

            I truly appreciate you guys taking time out of your day to speak into my situation. All the replies were helpful and not condescending.

            I should point out that I am in my 8th year at a really good church, with a really good staff and very honestly--I don't feel overworked, or that there is a ton of pressure on me. Of course there are seasons of craziness, but it isn't constant. So, I have a hard time saying I'm "burned out" because I usually associate that with a lot of negatives: driven church/senior pastor, unrealistic expectations, overwork, dysfunctional staff. That is part of the problem...I don't feel like I have a really good reason for the ennui, because I'm not miserable. I'm just blah. Bored, weary and a little cynical.



            • #7

              First off, hang in there, brother. Many people have been in your shoes and not survived. Burnout in ministry is a huge deal. You are human. It takes a dedicated effort to plan a ministry and personal life balance to keep you from getting run over by the bus you are riding on.

              What you are going through is completely normal. I don't care how much you love your career or how devoted to God you are, there comes a time where if you see another, write another or do another [x], you will explode.

              It's even harder when you are expected to stamp out another magically delicious worship experience, as if you have this perpetual well of inspiration and creativity that is at your fingertips like a TV remote and a DVR.

              I would suggest you seek advice from some strong leaders who 'been there done that' and are successful in keeping from getting burned out.

              I would also suggest talking to senior leadership about what is going on. Be honest with them. Make them aware of what is happening, how you are feeling. Get some dialogue going about how you can work out a solution- a sabbatical, leave of absence, even a weekly schedule/planning change to help keep you at your best to be the most effective Trent you can be.

              If a sabbatical is not possible, at least plan out 'mini-sabbatical' time each week where it's just you and your family- or even you. You can ride your bike, take a walk, stand in a room and blow raspberries, whatever you need to do to recharge.

              My pastor makes it quite clear that there are times he cannot be reached. He will unplug for a time, usually a few hours, where he recharges- no phone, no computer, no 'sky is falling'- the world and the church will get on just fine if he's not there for a couple hours to handle every situation that comes up.

              I would also suggest a book I read in college- "First Things First" by Stephen R. Covey. It is a very practical look at the culture of urgency and some helpful and effective methods on how to prioritize what's important to you and being effective without burning yourself out.

              Prayers are with you- I sincerely hope you can get recharged and be effective in your calling. We need all the men of God we can get.
              If we want to go places we haven't been, we will have to do things we haven't done.


              • #8
                I'm so new to this lovely site, that this is my very first post.

                Oh, Trent my brother, I'm singing that song right with you. Or I was until recently. I am in a small-ish church that recently had to let go of our Associate Pastor due to funding. (It turns out, this was definitely all in God's plan, as He led that pastor to his very own church.) So, needless to say, they cannot afford a paid worship leader. So I am blessed, in a way, to lead as a volunteer. Blessed, because it doesn't feel like a job. After all, it isn't one.

                I was recently hit with this same feeling: "Bored, weary and a little cynical." Except I was a lot cynical. I'd like to think I am now down to a little cynical.

                I did not take time off. I actually had to work more, to cover for the loss of our other pastor. What brought me to life was the entrance of not another, more experienced worship leader into my life, but a fresh new person who desperately wanted to be involved. And in this person's enthusiasm, I saw myself as I wanted to be and had been before.

                All of these posts from people wiser and more experienced than I are SO helpful. But I felt I should also mention what brought me from my own funk: I found someone oozing with excitement and spent a good deal of time with them, and their enthusiasm fueled my own. They inspired change! In fact, I changed the whole way I've been doing worship recently. A complete shift! They asked me so many things, I wondered why I had never asked those very questions myself! Their fresh eyes provided a new outlook for me as well.

                Is there maybe someone God has placed in your life who is full of potential and positiveness? It doesn't have to be someone experienced in worship, just someone enthusiastic. (My new wellspring is a woman who has never led worship, but is dying to be involved.) This could be a much-needed spring of life.

                Just a thought.

                Praying for you now.
                Your Sister,


                • #9

                  I'm with the others... it is absolutely imperative that you discover why you're in the space you're in. I have a gut feeling you know why, deep down. If you don't know, who else will?? I recently went through something similar, but I knew why. If the problem isn't "out there," then there's only one other place to search.

                  I'm praying for you dude!


                  • #10
                    So much good advise has been given here. I'll be praying for you.


                    • #11
                      What if you traded with another worship leader in your area for "AWHILE" whatever that means...a new perspective, a different group of people to work with and worship with...could help both of you.


                      • #12
                        Trent, I remember a thread you started a little over a year ago about who to go to when you're experiencing problems. If I recall correctly, you struggled with finding someone local to trust with certain struggles in the church world. Was that thread resolved? Did the Lord send someone you completely trust with transparency in the Worship Leader role? I'm just curious. Many times, that's a great place to start; with someone you REALLY trust.

                        Also, have you considered that God often uses times like these (situations that make us uncomfortable for whatever reason) prior to moving us? The reason why I'm asking is because I've had many a conversation with people in ministry that have admitted to me that before God moved them, He put them in a season of uncomfortable emotions, reasoning, etc before he made clear a different path or perspective in ministry. Many times, God makes us uncomfortable to prod us into seeking him for clarity. Once we seek him for the reason for that uncomfortable season, he often makes clear why.

                        Sooo, I'm praying with you and for you. May the Lord provide additional clarity into this situation, so you may know the what, when, where, why and how of what the Lord desires of you. Many blessings to you, Trent!
                        Melanie Siewert, Christ's Servant
                        BLOG: http://www.worshipvanguard.blogspot.com