5 Ways to Avoid Sunday Burnout
They can be relentless. It’s like they happen every seven days or something.
Several months ago, I was at a peer learning group of other Music Ministry folks, and one of them commented (in reference to preparing for choir rehearsals) that “Sundays come every week, but Wednesdays seem to come twice a week.”
Some weeks, we feel like Sunday can’t come fast enough, and others we feel like we’re in a neverending loop of Sunday after Sunday after Sunday after Sunday…
My church has been kind enough to give me a Sunday off this weekend, and I am currently on a little weekend getaway with my lovely wife. We’ve had so much fun enjoying the weekend together, and having the burden and privilege of Sunday lifted off of me for one week has been really nice.
I don’t say this to make it seem like I hate working in worship ministry and don’t like working on Sundays - that’s not it at all. I am just trying to be honest and express what I’ve heard many other worship leaders express - Sundays can be a little relentless as times. I pray that you are in a church that allows you the occasional Sunday off like mine does - it is something we should all advocate for as worship leaders.
So on this weekend getaway, I have gained some much needed perspective and would like to share with you 5 Ways to Avoid Sunday Burnout.
My guiding light through each of these tips is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstance; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.”
Pray. Pray with your pastors, your staff, your worship team, your tech team, your spouse, your family, your friends. Pray with anybody and everybody constantly.
I find that on the weeks I commit to prayer throughout every step of the process, I feel God working in me more deeply than if I neglect prayer. As we’re planning for worship, we should do it in prayer; as we meet with our pastors about sermon topics, we should do it in prayer; as we rehearse with worship teams, we should do it in prayer; as we set up on Sunday morning, we should do it in prayer. It’s simple, but it’s a commitment. And it changes everything.
2. Structure your week
I am an INFP on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator which means that having time away for rest is incredibly important for me. But even if you are an extreme extrovert, God has commanded us (for good reason) to take time for rest - to observe the sabbath.
When I first started working full time in ministry, I found it difficult to have enough rest time and sort of burnt out my energy reserves. I discovered early on that I had to take a true sabbath - and that my sabbath doesn’t get to be Sundays.
I prepare for worship from 7:30am-10:45am, lead worship 10:45am-12:15pm, and work with the Youth in their worship from 4-6pm on Sundays, so my Sunday ends up being a full day of work. With that in mind, I take Friday as my sabbath - and my wife’s schedule works out so that we get that day together. We rest, rejuvenate, re-create our selves (more on re-creation later…) on Fridays.
As leaders in worship, it is imperative that we work hard and enjoy our work, but we also take the God-ordained rest that we need. So I challenge you to structure your work, and structure your rest this week.
3. Steep yourself in the Psalms
Do this throughout the week, but focus in on this on Sunday mornings, too. As leaders in worship, the Psalms are kind of like our personal chapter within the greater story of the Bible. I try to read 2-3 Psalms as I am walking through Sunday morning - one before I start setting up, one before or during the worship team rehearsal, and one just before we start worship.
There are psalms for mornings when you need to lament, psalms for confession, psalms for rejoicing. The psalms express every human emotion we could possibly be going through on any given day. Take time to read a psalm or two before you even begin this Sunday morning, and see how God speaks to you.
4. Trust that God will provide
It’s as simple - and complicated - as that.
Some mornings I come in feeling burdened, weary, broken down, sick, tired, whatever. But God always provides what is needed. He is Jehovah Jireh. Meditate on that, soak that in, meditate on it. The Lord will provide.
5. Give thanks continually, for everything, always.
I will admit - I often act like a grumpy old man. It is one of my shortcomings, and my wife is extremely patient with me in these times. It’s easy to lose sight of God’s goodness and to focus in on the minuscule, unimportant, inconsequential negative things whether it’s being cut off in traffic or losing a pencil. We humans are funny that way.
When I find myself in these moods, I try to begin giving thanks for everything - the fact that I’m breathing, that I can walk, I have clothes and food, I have a loving wife, a sweet dog, a great family, a car. The list goes on and on and on. When you find yourself in a funk on Sunday morning, start thanking God for each thing you come across (and do it out loud, it becomes fun). Thank Him for your church, the people as you see them, the piano, the microphones, the hymn books, the lights, whatever you come across.
This practice resets your heart from irritable and ungrateful to thankful and rejoicing.
I pray that wherever you are, whatever the state of your heart, you enter into Sunday and encounter Jehovah Jireh - the God who provides, the God who listens, the God who loves.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Jesus Christ.” -1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
If you have any tips, comments, or suggestions - please feel free to leave a comment below, or contact me.