Music ministry auto-pilot: 6 signs you may be losing your passion


a:  regular course of procedure

b: Habitual or mechanical performance of an established procedure


All of us have these, don’t we? It’s only natural, after all. Any one thing or group of things that you do on such a regular basis that you don’t have to really think about the process anymore will eventually become your “routine”. If I asked you to describe a typical day, you could certainly do it without hesitation. In fact most of us can include specific days and times that  events happen on a daily basis, like clock work. This is not a bad thing, really. A routine gives our lives order and helps us be productive. It helps us carry out the list of daily things we all need to get accomplished, and do so in a productive way. So, a routine in this sense is a good thing.

So, when is a routine a bad thing? When you remove that little “a” in front of it. Then the word takes on a different meaning, doesn’t it?  When something goes from being considered a routine to just being “routine”, something important has been lost emotionally. Many of us can easily find ourselves in this place with our service in the music ministry. After all, the process of rehearsing and then performing songs for the Sunday service week after week is very repetitive. Often without realizing it you can find yourself simply going through the motions.
Many of us find ourselves having slipped into this state of music ministry auto-pilot, if you will. It’s a place where you may still enjoy being a part of the ministry, but it doesn’t mean quite what it did to you before. Now you just do it because it’s a part of you routine. You go to rehearsal on (insert rehearsal night here), you sing on Sunday. That’s what you do. Because that’s what you’ve always done. Only now, what was once part of your routine has somehow slipped into becoming “routine”; meaning mundane, lacking any real passion or enthusiasm.  Sadly, for some of us it even deteriorates to the level of becoming a “chore” . It’s something that happens so gradually that it can and often does sneak up on us before we’re aware it’s even happening.
Here then, are 6 simple “warning signs” that you may be losing your passion for the music ministry. Signs that what used to be an exciting, passionate way to serve God is slowly becoming more like definition “b” above: A “habitual or mechanical performance of an established procedure”.  

(that becomes more powerful to me every time I read it. There’s definitely something for me personally in that definition).

1. You see your service in the music department as your “job”.

It’s one thing to see your service in music ministry as something you owe to God for blessing you with the gift of music. It’s another thing though, to be in a place where you see it as your job in a natural sense.  Those who do actually receive monetary compensation for their services must be particularly careful to guard against this. This mentality will keep you dedicated and faithful to your position, but it will rob you of your passion and spiritual connection to the music ministry. Whether you’re getting paid or not, when you see your ministry as your job you will start to treat it as your job mentally and emotionally. Which brings us to the second sign:

2. You find that you don’t think about the music ministry except when you’re headed to rehearsal or Sunday morning services.

Most of us try to keep our personal lives separate from things that we “have” to do. Like work. When you start feeling like that about singing or playing in the music department, your feelings are starting to change.

3. You seldom feel the Holy Spirit when you’re singing or playing, except maybe during the performance of new material.

You sing or play every week, and you do enjoy it. But you find yourself just carrying out the mission of the day. Your service in the music department is more about providing an atmosphere for others to praise God and much less about you praising Him.

4. You find that you no longer like older songs that you used to love when they were first introduced.

A song that spoke to your heart and ignited your spirit when it was first introduced should on some level still do so. After all, songs may get old, but the message doesn’t change. If you find yourself becoming frustrated when the music department does older songs, you may be headed towards “definition B” above.

5. You don’t tend to express a lot of enthusiasm or excitement during performances, even when being coaxed to do so by the director or worship leader. And you feel like others who do are being excessive or “over-the-top”.

You find yourself being more and more reserved during song performances than you used to. You often kinda resent it when leaders are pushing and encouraging you to show more excitement and enthusiasm while singing/playing. This is often a sign you’re gradually slipping into music-ministry auto-pilot

6. You resist or find irritating, any kind of changes to the way things are normally done in your music department

We’re all creatures of habit, that’s a fact. But because music ministry is in fact a very repetitive thing that’s easy to get “comfortable” with, leaders are often seeking ways to bring new excitement and fun to the department by making changes. People who never want to see or participate in any kind of change outside of the norm are often in a very comfortable state of  “complacency” about their music ministry service.
The gift of music is a very special one. One that God doesn’t give to many people. It’s a honor and a privileged to serve Him with the gifts He gave us. But the reality is, like everything else we do week in and week out, it can become “routine”. We can get to a place where we sing the songs without really thinking about and paying attention to the message. A place where you’re there every Sunday because that’s part of your Sunday routine.
Take a good look at the list above. Do any of them fit you personally? What can you do personally to break free?  Have you been in this place before? If so, how did you get your joy and passion back? Leave a comment below and let me know.

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24 Responses to Music ministry auto-pilot: 6 signs you may be losing your passion

  1. xica davis says:

    I’m almost ready to just walk away. I just want to find my place. Ministry is beyond the four walls o the church. I feel like being active in church is a distraction. I’ll go don’t get me wrong. But I don’t want to be active anymore. I promise with my heart I feel like I’m suppose to just be a supportive member and focus on what my ministry is. I mean…..I even visit another church once a month just to LISTEN n HEAR the spirit AND get away from the PEOPLE at my church. I once saw the vision….Now I just see it turning into the same old “routine” as all the other churches in my city. What drew me to the church is no longer their…..the things that drove me out! Is what I’m beginning to see. So id rather STILL GO (cause the word is the word n my preacher teaches well) but I don’t want to be involved. Like I’m REALLY struggling with this. I’ve prayed n I’m even crying now typing this.

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  4. George says:

    Thanks for the insight Ron, big help

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  7. Wow, Ron, these are all really good points. Those feelings happen whether it’s music ministry or any other area of life that you’ve lost passion for. These are good signals to look out for to avoid the pitfall of “routine” – thanks for sharing!

  8. Jenny Shain says:

    I do see people who appear less than enthusiastic on a regular basis while using their music skills. I often wonder why. From the front, it’s easy to spot, if you’re facing them. It seems like they aren’t leading music, just going along with it. I wonder how to encourage them.

    I was teaching my students this week & after they played thru their songs, I noticed they lacked musicality. I took away their sheet music & explained musicality. They started to play better w/o it. I thought- Ron does that!

  9. Ron says:

    Carloyn, I really appreciate that. And to think, I almost didn’t join the Christian Blog group because I thought you guys might not relate to most of what I write about! I’m gonna have to share that with the group.

  10. Pat Moon says:

    Ron, I love the way you brought out the difference between a routine and routine. I definitely need some sort of a routine or I would never get anything accomplished but there are certain things we do that should never become routine thus allowing our passion to disappear. I believe being willing to accept even small changes and improvements help keep things from just being routine. Just one point, I love the older music… to me it becomes more passionate each time it is worked on and especially performed. The more familiar I am with a piece, the more passion I can put into the meaning of the piece.

    • Ron says:

      That’s absolutely true Pat. Even the smallest of changes can be enough to break you out of “auto-pilot”. I talk about that very thing you mentioned in your last sentence all the time with my praise team, in fact.

  11. Claudia Looi says:

    What a great article Ron. These warning signs are even applicable to marriage, business or work.

  12. Olga Hermans says:

    It is so easy to slip into a routine then being in the routine of doing things. God gives us fresh manna every day, so it is our job as well to keep things fresh before Him. He is not always looking for worshippers, but He is looking for hearts that worship Him with full engagement! Thanks Ron!!

  13. Ron, you’ve touched my heart on this one… for it’s all-too-possible to live out of routine instead of from the heart. I think I lived like that for several seasons in my life. I want to live each day, each moment, from my heart – but even as I feel that in reading your article… I wonder, is there really a cure for not falling into that trap when you’re in “professional” ministry? It seems like the system, itself, is a set up for that type of burnout…. or have you found a way around it? Is it in being aware of that tendency that allows you to circumvent it?

    • Ron says:

      Excellent response Susan. You’ll notice this is one of the only articles I’ve ever. Written where I didn’t offer a solution of some kind.

      To answer your question, no I haven’t found a way to circumvent it. I don’t think one exists. Everyone who does anything day in and day out for Year’s will at some point experience this place of “comfortable complacency”, we’ll call it.

      I don’t think there’s a way to completely prevent it. Rather, I think the best thing we can do is be aware that it happens and know the signs that it may be starting to happen.

      Once we feel ourselves sliding in that direction I do think it’s pretty easy to find ways to renew our hearts, spirits and minds and be refreshed.

      Re-committing and re-dedicating yourself to finding your first love again isn’t hard, I’ve found. Recognizing and admitting that you’re in a place where you need to us the hard thing for most of us.
      Think about it; if you’re going along in your ministry, doing your job, faithfully on your post every week, it can be hard to see something wrong in that.
      So I think more than offering solutions, I was really trying to offer some tips to help us all recognize little things that might give us a clue we’re on that gradual slope.

  14. Thought provoking, Ron. Thank you!

  15. Thank you so much, Ron. Despite my experience and expertise, I always feel like a new and fresh student when I read your newsletters and materials. Keep up the great work!

  16. What I love about your posts Ron is how they can translate so easily onto other areas of life!
    Sometimes we get into a rut in our jobs or homes and forget the part that God has played in getting us to this point. A musical talent is such an amazing gift and like all God given gifts we need to use them well!

    • Ron says:

      Carloyn, I really appreciate that. And to think, I almost didn’t join the Christian Blog group because I thought you guys might not relate to most of what I write about! I’m gonna have to share that with the group.

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