Ten Ways to Engage Your Congregation in Worship (Part 10) – Don’t Burn Out
I am sharing ten practical ways to engage your congregation in worship. I have learned these methods through my many wins and losses as a worship leader.
My prayer is that these ten tips will inspire you to grow in your gifts, so that the church will rise up to its boundless, artistic, and powerfully anointed potential!
10. Don’t Burn Out
I want to conclude this series addressing the issue of burnout. There are many burned out worship leaders and I believe this sad phenomenon is preventable. If you’re like me, leading worship is not just a job but a calling, and you are planning on serving God in this way for the rest of your life. If you’re going to make it for the long haul, you’re going to have to pace yourself and watch out for these three main causes of burnout.
1. Unrealistic expectations
You must come to grips with the fact that worship is not going to be a “perfect 10” every week. When worship seemed to feel flat at my church, I would beat myself up and let the enemy tell me I was worthless and should quit. The fact is, life doesn’t work that way and we shouldn’t even want it to. As worship leaders, we’re not performing some kind of canned Las Vegas show that’s done precisely and perfectly every time. We’re leading people to connect with the living God! We’re talking about relationships here, and relationships that are real are never a 10 all the time.
Through the years I’ve learned not to let an “off weekend” destroy me and steal my joy. In fact, when I have a valley service I get excited because I know the mountaintop service is on the way! Don’t get me wrong, none of this is an excuse to not strive for excellence, but what I’m saying is -- if I know I have given the Lord my best and it has fallen short, I’m not going to beat myself up.
Also, many times what you think was your worst service ever was actually one of your best in the eyes of someone you lead. For them their life was changed. Why? "'Because it’s not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty." - Zechariah 4:6
Stress will tire you out like nothing else. There will always be stressful situations in ministry, but if you are working in a healthy way you should be enjoying the privilege of leading people into the presence of God.
Here are some causes of stress to watch out for:
Relational conflicts with your pastor or team members
Relational issues are stress factor number one. We’ve touched on what it takes to be the kind of leader people want to follow, and if we had to sum it up again I would say -- be a servant. Let your pastor know that you are there to serve him. Make sure your team members know that you’re not using them to platform yourself but that you get much more joy out of elevating the gifts God has given them.
Being a people pleaser
Leadership always requires having to make tough decisions. Usually these decisions will not please everyone. If you spend most of your time trying to come up with solutions that will make everyone happy, you will continually be stressed and you will often end up pleasing less people than you had envisioned.
Stress is added when we haven’t done our homework and are unprepared. Playing and singing the songs should be so well rehearsed that you don’t even have to think about it. This allows you to focus on what is happening spiritually.
The music is too complex
Sometimes we bring unnecessary stress to our lives by having too big of a worship team. The bigger the team, the more possible distractions you will have. Simplify the music. It’s better to pick simple songs that you’re comfortable with and play them well than to pick something hard that you have no business trying to play.
3. An inability to authentically worship and enjoy God
The only way you will last in your role as worship leader is to not only serve but to learn how to receive in the process. I’ve been leading at Christian Assembly for over 20 years. For a musician to have been serving at one church for that long is a bit of a miracle. The only way I’ve been able to do this is because I have learned how to authentically worship God, enjoy Him, and let Him bless me while standing in front of all those people. You must learn this -- it’s life or death to your role as a worship leader. Not only will it give you longevity but it will also bring the anointing. Sincere authenticity and anointing always go hand in hand!
Final words for this blog series...
Be encouraged. If you are giving your best and truly want the Lord to be glorified, God is using you! We are in a select group of people on this earth that get to usher in the life-changing manifest presence of God to a desperate world. Though most of the real work God is doing through us will not be known or seen until we’re on the other side, God is at work!
Be careful not to compare yourself with other worship leaders and their gifts or success. This is a trap. Worship music has become a popular part of Christian music, and I have to constantly turn myself away from the temptation of comparing. The truth is, God has gifted you in ways that He hasn’t gifted me and vice versa. We should learn to be blessed and celebrate the gifts of God in each other. Trust me, it’s a lot more fun that way.
Have a clear picture of what success is? Success isn’t being at the biggest church, having the best record deal or writing a worship song on the top of the CCLI list -- success is determined by faithfulness. Be faithful to your local church and watching God move. If you showed up and your congregation responded to God in worship, you succeeded! Believe me, record contracts come and go, songs come and go, tours come and go, but God is eternal, and His church will stand forever.
So stop waiting for the next thing. For most of you, God is using you right now. Start living in the moment and enjoying it! Learn to know His love and feel His smile.
Lastly, music, songs, church buildings, seminars, sound systems, musical instruments, and everything else are just a means to an end -- and the end is Jesus! Make sure you’re getting to know Him and taking your people with you. There is no higher calling than leading people into their ultimate purpose and destiny of worshiping God!