May 12, 2015


Worship pastors, nobody in your church will have the big picture the same way that you do. And that’s ok, because it’s your job to coordinate all the things that go on for Sunday - music selection, stage design, service order, tech tools, volunteers, timing of each element, keys and arrangements, etc. But as a result, your role will be under constant criticism because nobody will quite know all the things that you take care of throughout the week, since three-quarters of what we do go unnoticed (at least, until those things get dropped). To the average attender, your role is to pick out a few songs and then play them with a few other musicians … which clearly anybody should be able to do, right?

So don’t  be surprised when most people think that they could probably do your job; after all, they don’t necessarily know that your choice of songs is made by anything other than your preferences. That’s not necessarily their fault - it’s an innocent enough mistake - it’s just that they have no other point of reference. With the easy availability of so much music these days, everyone thinks they’re an expert. Don’t be surprised when people wonder what you do with all your time; most people don’t know how long the creative process can be, how long research takes, nor do they have any idea how many different things you do (remember how hard it was the last time you tried to compile the whole list?). Don’t be surprised when you get questions that start with that awful phrase, “why can’t you just …” because nobody there but you knows the complexity of service design or video creation or even the creative process. Don’t be surprised when you get a bunch of anonymous notes criticizing a simple change; change is hard for most people, it pushes them outside of their comfort zone, and let’s face it, nobody likes to be uncomfortable. So don’t be surprised when you feel like a lightning rod in your role, because as the one who facilitates all things artistic, you ARE the lightning rod of your church. You work with, manipulate, mold, and curate the most sensitive expressions of identity there are - the arts - and when unspoken expectations are not met, it will be your hide on the line.

So stay grounded.

(also pastors)
Staying grounded means recognizing your humanity, that you are in fact fallible and will make mistakes, and that this is ok. But staying grounded also means being humble and vulnerable enough to admit these mistakes and apologize for them, learn from them, and move on without dwelling in them. Staying grounded means being accountable to a community others, especially your lead pastor and lay leadership, so that your decisions are not made in isolation; when lightning strikes, you want to make sure the charge gets dispersed, and the bigger the community, the less you yourself will feel it. Staying grounded means learning new things, keeping your mind flexible and your heart open to the incredible possibilities that come when we allow experience and wisdom to align with creativity and innovation. 

Staying grounded means taking a vacation occasionally - actually leaving your work behind (the world will not end without you) - and releasing your stress. Staying grounded means being aware of your personality and your tendencies and your coping mechanisms so that they don’t get the best of you during hard times. Staying grounded means saturating yourself in the story of the scriptures, in prayer, in times of quiet, for it is in these times that God will take what you’ve learned and mold you further. Staying grounded means keeping your eyes focused on the reason that you do what you do - you have been called by God to curate space each week so that your church community can respond to God’s mercy together.

Staying grounded is an ongoing discipline, but it’s worth it. It means you’ll serve your church community better. It means you’ll be available to your family (whatever that looks like). It means you yourself will grow more into the image of Jesus. It means that, instead of being a liability, you’ll be part of advancing the Kingdom of God.

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