Feeling unappreciated or taken for granted in your music ministry? Read this.

If you’ve served in a music ministry (or any other church ministry for that matter) for any length of time- particularly in supportive or administrative capacity like choir director, musician, or other such positions, you have probably felt unappreciated or taken for granted more often than you can count. You may even be dealing with those feelings right now.

I struggled with this for a long time. I felt very much taken for granted and unappreciated. Even thought about moving my membership a few times. “I’ll go some place where I’ll be appreciated”, I thought. But there was one problem with that whole line of thought, the whole attitude I had about it and pretty-much every emotion I had any time I thought about it. And I can sum it up for you in one scripture: Col 3:23-24 .

To be honest I didn’t even remember the scripture or where it was located. But every time I found myself pouting or feeling some kind of way, there in the back of my mind would be something saying “isn’t there something in the bible about seeking the praises of men and not being concerned with it or something like that?”

Yeah, there is. A LOT. The scripture above is just one of them. Soooo, now I have to deal with the reality that no matter how justified I thought I was in feeling  all this “I’m not appreciated” stuff, the bible seemed to be making it very clear to me that feeling those things meant my focus was on the praises of man and not Him.

So I started praying to God about it. I acknowledged to Him that I didn’t know how to get rid of these feelings and that I knew I shouldn’t feel that way. I told Him I was going to need His help with this one.

It didn’t happen right away, but over time God helped me start to see things differently. Eventually, I started to see the whole thing in a completely different way. It took something my pastor said to me once for me to really understand.

He was talking to me once about how certain people are so dependable, so reliable and so on-point that you just don’t worry about them. You don’t feel the need to cod and encourage and constantly mention them to keep them motivated or encouraged because you just know they’re going to be there doing it.

I didn’t get it at first. Back then I thought it was just a really nice way of justifying the fact that he never mentioned my name. As time went on though, and I began to mature in my ministry, I started to really understand.

Think about that whole term, “take for granted”, for example. You’ll get several different definitions when you look it up. But the one that stuck with me is the one that speaks to what you do when you just expect someone or something to be there, doing their job. Because it’s their job. We all must have at least 10 people or things we “take for granted” in that way.

You may never go out of your way to give kudos or thanks to them. But there is an unspoken feeling of gratitude and appreciation there just the same. The fact that you never have to worry about the person being there is a comforting thing that you rely on. That, almost certainly, is how the people at your church feel about you.

It may sound like a bit of a stretch to you at first, but for me, that revelation combined with the cutting truth of God’s word in Col 3:23 was everything I needed to really change my whole attitude about feeling unappreciated or taken for granted.

Deep emotional feelings like these are hard to let go of I know. But if you allow yourself to really process this- both the scripture and what I’ve shared with you here about changing the way you see the very meaning of the words- you’ll find yourself moving into a different level of service in your ministry.

I’m at a place now where, even at my busiest I’m content in knowing that my contribution to my ministry is needed and appreciated. I’ve still never been set aside and given a big special program or anything…an “appreciation service” we call it in the Black church. And it really used to bother me. But God has answered my prayer and helped me see things differently.

Now I’m completely content serving my music department in whatever way I can, whether or not I ever receive any praises from men or not. Because I know that my reward is in Him. And that’s what God wanted from us in the first place.

If you’re dealing with these feelings you might also enjoy reading Serving With Gladness; Finding contentment without the spotlight

 

 

 

Tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Feeling unappreciated or taken for granted in your music ministry? Read this.

  1. Lorri says:

    Thanks for a good article.

  2. Sophia says:

    And another thing, pastors at church are often unable to understand how people like us feel the way we do because being in church ministry IS their only job. Yes, they have to be there on Sundays and at night during the week but they don’t have a 40+ hours a week other job to stress about. They don’t understand that we are volunteers.

  3. Sophia says:

    I really appreciate this article as I am feeling that my family is being taken for granted at our church.

    For years my entire family including kids made up the bulk of the worship team instruments. But recently my husband was asked to take over as leader because of his great guitar skills. We had done music at a retreat and the leadership loved it which is why he was asked to take over. But there are long-time people who don’t support the change including the pianist. My husband is spending hours every week, trying to accommodate her inability to improvise, but there is still push back. What bothers me is that he is a volunteer and no one appreciates that he has a full-time job on top of that.

    The church leaders want change but they are not willing to spend the money on upgrades. My husband asked for some new equipment and we just got the proposed budget for next year. It had more set aside for a one-week missions trip for 5 people than for the entire music ministry for the year. I feel like my husband has been “thrown under the bus” and he’s feeling the stress.

    Today as I was up on stage I had a fleeting thought of just quitting. All of us. If we did they would literally only have the piano player as we do all of the instruments. We leave for church at 7 am every Sunday and practice during the week. We haven’t had a day off for many months and yet we get no words of affirmation at all. The pastors take more vacations than we do.

    I am trying to keep the focus that this is all for the Lord and not for our praise. In fact, I don’t care about praise but rather not feeling supported in the job my husband has been given. There are great expectations placed on him, that he is going to make the music more “dynamic”. But he is hindered in the lack of support he has been given. We don’t want to leave as we have been here for many years. Yet sometimes the temptation to do so creeps up.

    • Annette Ahlander says:

      Oh, church guitarist “thrown under the bus”! I SO feel your pain. Years ago I attended a musician workshop. I had been playing guitar for over thirty years – not a master, to be sure, but nothing to sneeze at. I was having so much fun just jamming with genuine greats in this area of music ministry, but then came the let down . . Those of us involved in music ministry for not years but DECADES were blown out of the water by a 13-year-old prodigy who loved guitar so much, this was pretty much what he did eight hours a day: play and practice guitar. Now, I could go on about how he didn’t have to make a living or pay taxes or support a family, but the point I want to make is that virtually all of the other guitar attendees were ignored, at least minimalized (especially the women), because in our break-out sessions the woman leader of that parish just couldn’t stop talking about how wonderful this kid was. Joseph’s brothers were terribly jealous of the overwhelming attention paid him by their father – I understand a great deal about jealousy; still, I cannot help but think how inappropriate it was of certain persons to keep focusing on the genius of this young man, never mind that it made a good lot of us feel like chopped liver. I had a choir director who did the same thing. After 8 1/2 years of enduring this obvious display of favoritism for the few, I finally left. My letter clearly spelled out why.

      Our pastor has never really liked guitar music (which doesn’t help), but I do my level best with the opportunities I AM given in sharing my talent with God and His people to put great love and care into my craft. I learn to pay more attention to those genuinely served by my singing and guitar playing than those who, quite frankly, wish I wasn’t there. When all is said and done, I play for God.

      Hang in there, friend.

  4. Jay says:

    I’m struggling with my church for somewhat different reasons. I’m in a church where the music ministry has many musicians and singers for each position, and none of them are sub-par to ability. The issue is there is unabashed favoritism in place. One family, in particular, has a presence onstage every single weekend – even to the point a position was created for one of them. The position is not as worship leader, but as a vague title of “music director” who is supposed to choose the songs and coach other musicians. I’ve never seen worship leaders who did not plan their own services, so that is odd, and the only really obvious outcome of this created position is this person now has himself inserted into every worship service, along with his wife many times. It will sometimes be months in between getting the opportunity to serve with my gifts, and I’m not alone. Other musicians are in the same boat, unless they are the favored few who get the lion’s share of getting to serve. Questions about the atmosphere are headed off at many opportunities. The worship leaders will, out of the blue when band members are present, begin talking about people in some “other” situation who complain about serving and then make it obvious these people aren’t being “spiritually mature” in their thinking. It’s all a thinly veiled message to the ones who aren’t being utilized. The church has a couple satellite campuses that meet in rented spaces. Opportunities to serve are more likely to be at those facilities (the drive is farther, there is set up and tear down involved – it’s a lot more work) but, again, they make it known at every opportunity possible there is no such thing as a “main” campus (even though it’s obvious there is) and how everyone helps everywhere (even though it’s obvious they don’t). I rarely get to serve at the same location my family attends (girls are in youth groups). Another favorite message thrown out often, without solicitation is they do not want to “burn anyone out” – but it’s obvious that message is for the ones not being used, not for the ones on stage at the main campus every weekend. It is just disheartening to see such a level of favoritism in a church. I often toy with the idea of just quitting even though I love being able to serve through music. But the clique-ish atmosphere is virtually more than I can stomach. The worship leaders come across as just fake and insincere. There is no one in the church I can talk to about it, as, of course, the worship pastors are gods in their own right around there.

  5. Chikodi Uzoamaka says:

    wao…I found this article encouraging…and having read through peoples comments/challenges…. I must say I’m further encouraged…. #Thanks!

  6. Cynthia says:

    I just found this after googling “unappreciated church musician”. I have been the church pianist at my church for the past 20 years, 10 of those years were unpaid, the other 10 I get paid basically gas money. I drive 30 miles one way.

    I have on occasion taken some time off and twice took the entire summer (8 weeks) off to have my babies. I try to schedule my times away to coincide with and event that might be happening where my services are not needed. For example: A special musician may come in and perform for the entire worship service.

    Lately though, I almost feel shunned. This morning, I arrived at church to rehearse for the weekly pre-worship band rehearsal. As I walked in, the guys are all up there tuning up, etc. The music minister was sitting at the piano, running through some scales or piddling or something. He doesn’t play piano, but he can bang out choir parts. Anyway, I approach the piano bench, and he gets up, turns his back to me, and walks away! Never even acknowledging my presence or attempting to murmur a hello! Over the past several weeks, I’ve noticed similar behaviors not just from him but from some on the praise team. The other musicians are guys seem to be just waking up and seemingly in a fog anyway so their lack of hello’s don’t bother me as much.

    I started to chalk it up to the fact that everyone has something pressing on their mind and maybe they just can’t be bothered with a simple, “Good Morning!” but it irks and hurts.

    I’m beginning to feel that my servant’s heart needs a long break. Thanks for letting me vent.

  7. alyce says:

    Ah, yes…the sign on my wall as I leave out the door “…as unto Him!” (The refrain on that is always “it’s not about me.”) It gets me through…Amen

    • Yanzi Song says:

      I hate when someone throws that “it’s not about me/you” phrase at me. It’s nothing but a passive-aggressive attack meant to marginalize and minimize. It’s the same as saying sit down, shut up, and take it. It says your feelings don’t matter, and you are here to serve and nothing more. It says you are selfish and if you don’t have the right servant attitude, then you’re not welcome here.

      I seriously ask you, if it’s not about me, then who is it about?

  8. Keith Derrick says:

    It’s hard for me after working in my church for over 28 years that when the new pastor came I was let go in a secret way so members would no get excited and destroy his plans. I was held on for almost a year and not told I had a job, but I keep coming and being available but to no use with no pay and authority, I left my church feeling hurt and not feeling it, but I know this is still my church, HOW DO I STOP FEELING HURT? I’VE TRIED HARD TO NOT MAKE IT PERSONAL, BUT NO ONE CARED, EVEN TO THE CHOIR.

    • Ron Cross says:

      Man, sometimes it IS personal. And what you have to understand first of all is that God gave us every emotion for a reason. So the hurt you’re feeling has a purpose too.

      You’ve been at the church for so many years it’s hard for you to think of leaving, even after all that has happened. But sometimes God has to do something drastic in order to get us to move, because He has something better for us. And for people like you and me it often takes something like that, unfortunately.

      I can’t say for certain that’s what happening here, but I want you to stay open to the possibility. I’ve served at my own church for over 30 years. And while I haven’t gone through anything like what you’re experiencing now, I have been feeling for years like maybe my assignment here is complete. Yet I won’t consider leaving until I know without a doubt that it’s God.

      So what’s it gonna take for me to have the absolute certainty I need to leave a place I’ve basically grown up in? Probably something pretty dramatic. But I can tell you that I doubt I’m reaching my full potential where I am, and I may not ever.

      This is what you have to begin to allow yourself to consider. Start praying and asking God if He has allowed this because it’s time for you to move. I think for you the only way to stop hurting is to start considering the possibility that God just may be opening a door for you to do something greater in another ministry.

      Take care of yourself and keep your head up my brother.

      Ron

    • Annette Ahlander says:

      If it’s of any consolation, I care. Every day I converse with the Lord, asking painful questions about where I should be and how I should best serve Him and His people – in truth, I am my own harshest critic. The response that comes back to me more often than not is that we are here to love God, our brother/sister, and – guess what? – our SELVES. Jesus NEVER said “Love thy neighbor INSTEAD of thyself”; more accurately, scripture reads “Love thy neighbor AS thyself”. And you ARE loved – this is an absolute truth.

      I, too, have been replaced, MANY times. It hurts.

  9. SoundMan says:

    I’m the lead sound tech for our church. I am there for every event that happens in the Sanctuary. I have a background in radio and studio/live recording. I’m the guy that spends 300+ hours in music production for the annual Christmas pageant and I introduced (and manage 100%) the new live multi-camera video feeds; as well as do the website 100% with daily changes.

    I am also 100% volunteer and fell 100% unappreciated when even the Pastor and his wife automatically expect for me to be available on spur of the moment notices. I carry keys for the church and am also there for Men’s Ministry and various other ministries when I get a text at all hours of the day.

    The Music Director, Pianist, Organist, Synth player – all paid. I am volunteer. They are there for morning and evening services and 1 hour choir practice during the week. I spend approximately 20-25 hours a week there, plus another 20 hours a week on the website from my home.

    My wife and I own our own company that we run from our home where we also homeschool our 3 children while taking care of my 72 father with dementia. She is also the Children’s Ministry chairman and AWANAs chairman in addition to the fall festival, VBS, and other children’s ministries.

    I am a “behind the scenes” type of person and prefer to be that way; but recently when we decided to take a family day on a Saturday instead of volunteering for an event we were asked constantly why we weren’t there.

    I don’t do this for recognition or pats on the back or “at-a-boys” – my service is to God – He gave me the talent for music and programming – just as He gave my wife a talent for educating children – but we feel used, and quite frankly we are exhausted.

    We haven’t had a vacation in 4 years because of church commitments – and can’t even attend out of state family holiday events due to pageant commitments (she is in choir) and I am there for every practice and service.

    I found your website via Google by searching “my church is taking me for granted”, and I’m glad to hear you say that you’ve considered leaving the church before – as I am currently contemplating the same thing.

    Any reply or response you could give regarding our situation would be greatly appreciated. Prayer has only resulted in “be still”. I’m not sure if that’s God’s will or our commitment to doing what other’s will not do and seeing the need and filling it.

  10. Glory says:

    I read this not realizing it was written a year ago, yet the timing for me is so relevant! The church that our family has attended and served in for more than 10 years is small so when weeks and months go by without a lot of encouragement it is really tough.

    Being the sole worship ministry leader for the past few years, how can I get better at guarding myself against becoming resentful and discouraged?

    • Ron Cross says:

      Hi Glory,

      I’ve found that emotions are tied to how we perceive different situations in our lives. It’s not easy, but sometimes we have to simply choose to see things differently. To change our perceptions. Charles Swindoll said life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. We can seldom change what happens or what other people do but we always have a measure of control over how we react.

  11. AJay says:

    I really needed this after yesterday’s rehearsal. Thanks

  12. Pingback: Feeling unappreciated or taken for granted in your music ministry … | Church Ministry

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *