Be Careful What You Preach, Minister Of Music (You’ll Eventually Have To Practice It)!

I got some news just the other day that, in one fell swoop would force me to actually use every piece of advice I had given in any blog about music ministry attitude, mindset and service, dedication, passion….you name it.

It was un-expected. It blindsided me. Overwhelmed my thoughts. And yes, angered me.
At the moment I got the news my mind instantly flashed back to that one I wrote about The 5 second rule of music ministry. Trust me, I needed it right then. I was able to quickly get my emotions and feelings under control so I could discuss the matter calmly with my dear friend and co-laborer in the music ministry for over 30 years now.

As I continued to think about the situation-one that would dramatically change and add to my list of responsibilities in my music department- I started to think about other blogs I’d written about things like serving with gladness, and not allowing your passion for music ministry to wither until you’re serving on auto-pilot.

In short, I just wasn’t feeling this change. But then I realized I’d written a blog about what to do when you’re not feeling it too. Yes, it seemed that for every negative thought I had, God reminded me of a blog where I had already addressed it. And here I was thinking I was writing all this stuff to bless and encourage YOU.

But I’m already doing so much, I thought. We have 4 choirs in rotation, I complained to my friend and minister of music. I have to teach all the songs for all of those groups. Plus my duties as a musician. And now this added to all that. It’s just a lot. “I understand”, she said calmly, as if she hasn’t been dealing with this very thing all her life there as the go-to person for pretty-much everything.

That’s ok though, I told her. We’ll do what we have to do. We’ll make it work. Sunday I woke up and I just felt heavy. Not in the right frame of mind for music ministry. So I stayed home and spent a few extra hours with my boys. I took the time to really think and re-adjust my thinking and attitude (oh yeah, I wrote about that too).

And before thoughts of burn-out and discouragement could creep in, God brought that blog back to me as well. Soon I found myself moving from feelings of frustration and overwhelm to almost excitement.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not happy about this change, how it will affect me or even how it came about. But I’m absolutely pumped and ready to challenge it head on. And do so with all of the enthusiasm I encourage of others.

Yup, in life it’s a good idea to be careful what you “preach”. Because you will certainly get your opportunity to practice it all, soon enough.  :O)

How To Deal With Music Ministry Burn-out And Discouragement

WorriedIf you’re a regular reader of my blog you know they go out every Monday and Thursday. And, as life would have it, I usually end up getting around to writing it the night before. Thursday’s blog is particularly challenging for me because I’m usually coming home late after a rehearsal. Such was the case last night, when I found myself driving home at almost 11:00 wondering what in the world I would write about for today’s blog. As I continued to turn thoughts over in my mind, I thought about the task of writing the blog itself.

I thought about how, if I didn’t have this meeting to choose songs for the up-coming annual Family & Friends musical I wouldn’t be getting home so late. Then I started thinking about all the work that lay ahead of not only me, but the entire music department as we begin preparations for this annual event. Six songs to learn in about 2 weeks, and we don’t even have them all yet. And that’s just what we have to do to be prepared for the rehearsals themselves. So of course, one thought leads to another when you start allowing yourself to mentally go down that road, and before I knew it my mind was all over the place. The sheer volume of it all swirling in my head just made me tired. It was around then, as I was pulling up to my place after the 30 minute commute from my church, that God reminded me of a scripture: “Don’t grow weary in well doing”, I heard in my head. I knew there was more to the scripture, but that part is what stuck with me. I knew then what God wanted me to write about.

Because you see, even though I’m this big time “music ministry coach” now, with readers and followers from all over the country and even in other countries- and even though I coach and encourage and teach and train people from all walks of life and all nationalities- the fact is, I get weary sometimes. I get tired. I get discouraged. Sometimes I just don’t feel like it. I love music ministry with all my heart and soul. I know with everything that is in me, that it’s what I was placed here to do. But it’s a job, isn’t it? And we do get tired. And we do feel burned out.

This scripture- Galations 6:9 – comes to mind often, though I don’t think I realized until just now how often it does. And when I think about scriptures like this; scriptures that tell us not do do something : don’t get weary, don’t fret, don’t worry, don’t be afraid- I often reflect on how often I hear people referring to them as a “command”. In other words what they’re trying to say is that because the bible tells us so clearly not to do these things, if we do we’re committing a sin.

But to me, these are not “commands” as much as they are loving advice from a loving Father. I have two sons that I spend time with and talk to all the time. I love them and I want to teach them how to live life as easily as possible. How to be happy and avoid struggle, anger, bitterness and depression. Often in these conversations I tell them to avoid certain things or not to do certain things. If they don’t follow my advice, they won’t be punished by me. They’ll simply experience things that they didn’t have to experience.

Just in the process of gathering my own thoughts before writing this blog I knew that God wanted me to just speak a word of encouragement to you today, even as I encourage myself.

I believe scriptures like Galatians 6:9 come to us from a father who loves His child and simply wants to encourage us. It’s not a “command” that you’ll go to hell if you don’t do. It’s loving advice from a Father who loves you and doesn’t want to see you hurt. I can almost hear Him saying to me in a loving voice “I know this gets hard sometimes, Ron. I know you get tired. I know it gets frustrating. But don’t get weary in your well doing. If you hang in there, He’s saying, it’s going to get better. In due season you’ll reap a harvest of blessings if you don’t give up.

That’s what I’m saying to you today. I don’t know the state of your ministry or how you feel today about it. But I’ve been working in music ministry long enough to know that nobody escapes feeling this way eventually. God placed it on my heart to encourage you today. You hang in there, ok? God knows and He cares. It’s going to get better, even if He has to move you. But if you ever do move, make sure HE’s the one moving you. Not frustration or discouragement or burn-out or anything else. Because the hard truth is, none of those things are any indication you’re not exactly where you’re supposed to be.

 

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

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

Routine:

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.