Hey Everyone –
Welcome to the 1st entry in my “Worship Leader Pitfalls” series. This series was created to discuss common mistakes that we can easily make as Worship Leaders, Music Ministers (or other leaders). These aren’t posted in a specific order, so it’s not a real “ranked” list – just my thoughts on various issues that can hinder us from being as productive and effective as we could be. I look forward to dialog about it on the “Comments” section and I’ll be posting this series on The Worship Community as well.
Pitfall #1 – Lack of Creative Time (CT)
This pitfall can be a huge issue with both part-time Worship Leaders and Full-Time Worship Leaders. Personally, I struggle immensely with this. “Creative Time” is time that is dedicated to the creative process. I’m assuming that as a worship leader, you are a musician, singer, performer, artist … someone who comes from the “creative” mold. God has given us creative abilities to sing, play, arrange, produce, write, and lead.
In my experience, I’ve found that we can often fall into the trap of spending the majority of our time on administrative and social tasks such as scheduling, filing, and relationship building. These tasks are important and necessary – we have to schedule our bands and singers, music needs to be filed, chord charts need to be created, and we need to maintain a pastoral/shepherding role with those who are serving in music ministry under our leadership. At the same time, we can become very frustrated when these tasks consume much of our time and we’ve not spent time in the “creative” zone.
What are some examples of what I’d consider “creative time”?
- Alone time to just play your instrument in worship.
- Group time (outside of structured rehearsal) to jam with your other musicians. (this pays HUGE dividends)
- Alone time to compose songs. (great worship songs usually don’t come from desk time)
- Writing time to journal, express your thoughts, blog, etc. (a river that is dammed up with no outflow becomes stagnant)
- Devotional time (this will overlap with “Quality Time”, a separate entry), but so often, creative time is inspired by devotional time.
- Restoration/Recreation Time (I was discussing this pitfall with another musician/artist/worship leader who said “Fred, sometimes the best thing an artist can do is leave the office and take a walk on the beach”!) … what inspires you?
For example, in my role as Worship Director I have several objectives and tasks that must be accomplished every week. For example, I need to have my lyrics and arrangements entered into ProPresenter and the .plist file uploaded to the projection team by Wednesday at 4:00 PM. Our team rehearses on Tuesday evenings, so all the arrangements, charts, and rehearsal CDs must be prepared prior to this. I also have staff meeting times, evaluation meeting times, etc. (case in point – today, spent about 2 hours meeting with the Youth Pastor and our Associate Worship Director on some vision casting and practical brainstorming ideas for band rehearsals, mentoring musicians, expectations, etc).
Yesterday, I finished up my “desk jobs” and “tasks” and knowing I had some other meetings this morning and afternoon, I left my office and came back to my home office/studio for some “creative time”. I was able to get my lappie setup on top of the piano, fired up MasterWriter, and finally got to work on a new praise song that was inspired by a passage in Nehemiah that I’d bookmarked weeks ago. I was charged and refreshed afterwards and excited that with some more work and CT (Creative Time), I’ll be ready to arrange/demo/ and teach this song to our congregation and potentially share it with the world.
I’m blessed to be in a position where I can pursue my creative talents while “on the clock”, of course with the understanding that I have measurable goals. I’m accountable to my “direct report” (in my case, it’s the Senior Pastor) and I certainly hope and pray that there is a measurable “overflow” in the anointing on my ministry and leadership to my local church and to the overall Body of Christ as a result of CT.
For the Pastors who read this blog … especially for the ones who are reading this because their WORSHIP LEADERS sent them here (haha!):
Most Pastors I know understand that a worship leader/musician type ministry is one that flows from creativity. My encouragement to you is to bless your creative team with some liberty to “be creative” on the clock. Have measurable goals, deadlines for administrative tasks, and accountability. Granted, some people have proven to be more responsible with their “creative time” than others and that’s why it’s important to communicate clearly about what you are accomplishing. BALANCE is the key. If a WL feels confined to a desk from 8-5 all week with a punchlist of administrative tasks and meetings, it’s not likely they will be as fresh and creative as you’d want them to be. At the same time, the WL can’t just spend all day on the beach “reflecting” on God and “thinking” about worship. They can’t be in the studio “playing” all day, and need to be engaged with the staff, the people, and the plans. Explore some ways that you can engage your creative staff and allow them to flourish.
I’ve been reading “Built To Last“, the prequel to “Good to Great” (which we are reading as a staff). I wish that I would’ve highlighed or marked it as I can’t find which chapter it was in now, but one company had a policy in place where the engineers (maybe they were researchers?) were allowed a certain amount of time to “work on anything they liked” … something that they could take initiative on and pursue. Well, it’s obvious you’d need some parameters around something like that, but I think you get the idea.
If you take an inventory of your work week – how much CT are you experiencing? I recently evaluated this and regretted that I wasn’t getting enough. I was ashamed to see how long it had been since I’d really sat down to compose a new instrumental theme, to compose a new praise or worship chorus, etc. As a result, I could tell how easily I could get into a rut of “familiarity” and not challenge myself. If I’m not challenging myself, how can I challenge others?
For the Kingdom,
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