One of the most common threads among all of us that work in music ministry is the on-going struggle with just staying motivated and happy. Fighting burn-out. Dealing with the delicate balance of being dedicated to the ministry and still having a life. The whole balance thing is the thing I struggle with most, honestly. But one thing I haven’t struggled with much over the years is being on my post. consistently being at rehearsal every single time, ready to go. Consistently being on my post every Sunday morning, ready to play, direct, or sing.
A lot of people do struggle with such things though, which explains why so many choirs and praise teams struggle with absentee-ism. And even though we all tend to think so, it’s not always a willful thing for those that are guilty of it. Sometimes, I believe, it’s more about a lack of commitment. Many of us start out with great intentions to do something only to find ourselves struggling to keep our promise, or even quitting altogether.
I committed to myself that I’d learn guitar earlier this year. I was excited. I couldn’t wait to get the money to purchase my guitar and get started. Weeks later though, I found myself not practicing. It was just harder than I thought. The instrument itself was harder than I thought it would be, but more than that it was a matter of “finding the time” to commit to practicing. I placed that in quotes because, as any musician will tell you, that’s not something you find the time for. It’s something you make the time for. So is anything else you have a strong enough desire to do.
In one on-line dictionary I found commitment defined as:
1. The state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, etc. (as in a teacher’s commitment to her students, or a company’s commitment to quality)
2. An engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action. (I have a prior commitment).
Definition number 2 for me has always worked for my ministry at my church. Simply put, rehearsal nights are off limits. I’ve never booked voice lessons, taken engagements or anything else on Wednesday nights, because Wednesday nights are rehearsal nights. So whether we actually have a rehearsal scheduled or not, I’ve always treated Wednesday night as a standing engagement; a prior commitment. I view Sunday mornings the same way.
In fact I’ve been so adamant and consistent with this over the years that everyone who knows me already knows I’m busy on Wednesdays and Sundays. And I think in order to stay committed and dedicated to anything- ministry, learning a new instrument or anything else, we have to make that thing a standing engagement. A commitment that everything else must adjust to and revolved around. When we do that staying dedicated to a thing becomes a lifestyle and a habit. It becomes automatic. Something you miss when you don’t do it.
This has worked really well for me in my ministry because not only have I made it a standing commitment but a way of life. So everything else always revolves around and adjusts to those standing commitments, because, as definition number 2 above says, I’ve taken away the “freedom” do do anything else during those times. The failure to do that is the biggest reason most people don’t stick to their commitments, no matter what they are. It’s also the reason I’m not practicing my new guitar.
When learning it becomes important enough to me to give practicing it a place of priority, I will do with it what I’ve done with Wednesday night rehearsals, Sunday morning ministry, daily posting to my fan page and weekly blogs here. I will give it a place of importance. I will make a commitment. I will set a rehearsal time and treat it as “an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action”. And as soon as I do, the flow of my daily life will begin to adjust around that time slot and make space for it. As we always do for the things that are most important to us.