So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. - Galatians 6:9 (NLT)
Last night a bunch of our local area worship leaders met at a restaurant for encouragement and connection. The ten of us represent thousands of worshippers collectively, but only a small portion of those that lead worship in our area. (Over 40 worship leaders connect on our Facebook group page.) Some lead worship as a full-time employee, others are either part-time workers or volunteer entirely at their churches. Some lead at large churches. Some at smaller churches. Worship leaders already are a tribe of cats, so when you also consider the different expressions it may seem hard to find connection. You could not be more wrong to think that. In fact, not only do these connections provide immediate encouragement, they might save your life. After all, there are some hidden things about the role of leading worship that those not in your shoes miss. Let's not get tired in our work simply because we are not there for each other.
Here are a few questions that you need to ask and be asked. Having safe connections with other worship or creative leaders might be the thing that saves you.
What are your challenges? Practically speaking, there are surely unique issues to resolve from recruiting the right team to equipping the right gear for your church. Theology is a challenge as well. How does what your church says play out in what your church does on each weekend for worship? There are challenges in living as a creative in a left-brained world. Heartburn comes from unexpected events such as the exit of a pastor or a church split or even a new building. Connections with the right people may aid in processing and problem solving. And, sometimes its good to know your are not the only person dealing with a particular challenge. After all, guitar pedals and software issues are just a couple topics of the trade that we face.
What are your wounds? Every leader has wounds. And, we must keep the depth of these hidden–or so we think. The pain of rejection, spiritual abuse, harsh micromanagement, misunderstanding, and missed expectations weigh on you and I. The myth is that we are not allowed to bear our own wounds in ministry. Worship leaders are supposed to be invisible, after all. Having a safe place to share these might be the ticket to healing and to expressing your wounds in your ministry in a redemptive way. This means we need to help each other move on from whining to maturity. It means also protecting a brother who needs to get out of an unhealthy pit.
What is your story? Worship leaders are generally in the "creative" camp of people, which means there is likely some messiness to our narrative. Safe connections with those that empathize not just with wounds but with our unique story–mistakes and all–puts us in context. Who listens to you? We all need to be heard. When you take a journey, it's a blast to share the highlights with your tribe. It's healing to share the low-lights. To be known is a gift we should be willing to give each other. In a narcissistic world based on Instagram filters, the raw face-to-face with those who "get you" contrasts.
What are your dreams? The busyness of being a church worship leader may mean your task in getting things done gets in the way of finishing that song you hope to record. Or, it may mean losing your chance to take that mission trip. You want more kids, but the years tick by with no regard. Time is the enemy of dreams when dreams are ignored, but their hero when respected. Who around you knows of the unique dreams you have and is there to cheer them? We all need a dose of courage as we cross the seemingly impossible–a kick in the butt at times. Who are you gonna let do that for you?
What can I give? Contributing to something big is what drives us as worship leaders. In fact, church work is a big contribution in and of itself. However, beyond that can we give and benefit each other? If one has knowledge, will he share it? If one has time, will she offer it? And, is there a way to be there for each other. A lot of our churches will only be there to take from us, which is part of the role. Who is there to give back to us? It might be your peers. In fact, it should be.
Now, simply hanging out at a restaurant is not going to supply all of that. But, in our area we are trying to help each other thrive in what God has called us to do and be. The more freely we can ask these kinds of questions to each other the stronger our churches and community will be. And, it may save us, too.