Are you feeling: Stressed? Overworked? Under appreciated? Disconnected? Overwhelemed? Uncared for? Unloved? These are some of the signs of burnout. Burnout can occur when we regularly exceed our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual capacities in our ministries. Combating burnout can take the shape of an extended vacation or even a new job. But to faithfully live on a daily basis in the ministries that God has given us, we need to focus on smaller, well planned, intentional, steps that both protect our current well being and, at the same time, stretch our capacities for new growth. Each of these smaller plans work integrate with each other to build an overall plan for passion, energy, and peace, in your current ministry environment.
Planning to Plan
Renewing the Joy of Planning
Do you remember the excitement of looking for the perfect song for a worship service and then finding it? Do you remember the joy when a service is finished and the people have both participated and responded? Leaders struggling with burnout will often say that while those feelings about planning may have been true back in the day, now planning feels like drudgery; simply going through the motions. This can be especially true for those who have to plan alone. What is already a difficult task becomes monumental when faced alone, week after week. How can we move from burnout to a return to joy in the planning of worship? Here are some things that church leaders across the country find helpful and hopefully you will too.
Pray to Plan
Don’t just sit down at a desk or computer (or coffee shop) and start planning cold. Before you try to plan, spend some time in God’s word. Have a conversation with God about what you hope to bring to the worship at your church. Ask for the help and inspiration of God’s Spirit before you ever try to select something for the service. God will be there when you are in need and you will be able to share joy when God’s will for worship is revealed in your planning.
Spend Time Listening
A great teacher and worship leader I know has said many times that we don’t listen enough. Listening first can bring inspiration in our planning. Worship Leaders, spend time actively listening to music: both new and old. If you are pastor, listen to the sermons of other pastors. Pay attention to both content and style of delivery and see if you can learn something new. Listen and watch worship services in other churches, but resist comparing your church to theirs! Talented leaders can look to other for inspiration and ideas not copying and envy.
Stop Swinging for the Fences Every Sunday
We all want to do well in our planning. But constantly trying to hit home runs quickly drains your resources, exhausts you, and frankly exhausts your congregation. Sure, it is great when one of the services we plan meets and exceeds expectations. But solid, consistent worship services with the occasional “spectacular” something extra is plenty. Give yourself and your planning a break!
Find Someone to Listen
Lastly, there is no reason to go this alone. You are surrounded by churches that have someone with the same responsibility as you who is probably feeling the same stress as you and can relate to you. Works to meet other’s in your area of ministry and get to know them. You will end up helping each other.
Burnout from planning stress is common. Expectations can be very high from leadership, congregations and from your own goals for yourself. Finding ways to give yourself a break, creatively, emotionally and spiritually, is essential to either avoid, or work through, burnout. I believe planning burnout is not inevitable and that it can be overcome. I hope these tips help you out. If you need specific help with one or more areas or you can’t find someone to talk to, just contact me. We are all in this together.
Dr. Craig Gilbert, a consultant and coach fondly known as The Worship Doctor, is the founder of Purposed Heart Ministries, a worship renewal and education program for all churches. Craig 25 years as a music and worship minister working with choirs, bands, and various artistic groups while leading and designing worship in churches of all sizes and styles. Now he spends his time helping churches across the country imagine what worship could and should be in their local context and then helps them get there! Click HERE to learn more!