Let Me Burn Out for Thee has to be one of the worst hymn titles ever. How about writing one called Let Me Live a Long, Productive, Balanced and Healthy Life for Thee? One of the best tips I can give a part-time (or full-time) worship leader is: Don’t burn yourself out.
The closest I’ve ever been to a nervous breakdown was during December several years ago at my part-time church job. As I wrote recently, a part-time worship leader at a smaller church ends up doing everything since there’s usually no support staff. I wanted to have a special Christmas Sunday, so for my 20 hours a week, I wrote and arranged an entire music program, typeset all the music, made copies, rehearsal tracks and notebooks, organized a praise choir, scheduled all the choir members, led several choir and band rehearsals and compiled videos and PowerPoint.
Then I decided to rinse and repeat and do it all over again for an elaborate Christmas Eve service. By January, I was so burned out I could hardly get out of bed.
When you’re in ministry, you’re typically (I hope!) not in it for the money since there typically isn’t any (unless you’re a Rock Star Worship Leader, LOL!). So, if you’re working part-time, you’ll tend to get consumed with the job (since you love it) and end up working full-time hours for part-time pay. Nobody’s gonna stop you, either.
Of course, get done what needs to be done even if it means working a little extra, but, please, pace yourself. Allow yourself to take that day off and turn your phone off. Go on a good vacation and forget all about your work-life for a few days (you’ll be refreshed and ready to tackle the job again when you return). Sneak away and get some ice cream tonight with your wife or husband. Visit another church one Sunday and enjoy a service you didn’t have to plan.
During the upcoming hectic holiday season, if you feel that burned-out feeling coming on, recognize it and deal with it head-on so you can have a productive, balanced and healthy ministry.