What To Do About Worship Leader Burnout

by Bobby Gilles

in Worship Leading

Last week Kristen and I enjoyed the 2013 Refuge SSI retreat for worship leaders and church creatives at St. Simons Island. You can see a short video recap here, filmed by our friend Chris Moncus:

Refuge 2013 Recap Video from Chris Moncus on Vimeo.

Worship leader burnout is common. Unfortunately it isn’t always possible to attend a retreat, but it is necessary to develop regular rhythms of rest. On Day One of Refuge SSI, St. Simons Community Church Pastor David Yarborough taught a session on Covenant and Kingdom, in which he said “We are a covenant people on a kingdom mission.”

Many of us in Christian ministry have an easier time “living out” the kingdom part than the covenant part, which means we work, work, work but lose sight of our identity. But as Pastor David said, “Our identity is through the Father, not through our kindgom work.”

God created Adam and Eve on the sixth day and gave them a huge mission – to fill and subdue the earth. And then he established the seventh day as a day of rest. What? “Here’s your mission, but first we rest”?

And after Jesus was baptized, he went into the wilderness for a 40 day fast rather than go immediately on a preaching tour. And there, Satan attacked His identity (“If you are really God’s Son …”).

God has adopted us as sons and daughters, heirs to the kingdom with Christ, through Christ, in the power of the Spirit. This is our identity. We can rest in that, exult in that, draw strength from that. Remember kingdom worker, God’s kingdom is one where “What God want done, gets done” to quote our own pastor Daniel Montgomery.

You might think, “If I don’t keep working, no one else will do what I’m doing.”

But you’re likely wrong. And if you’re right, it could be that God doesn’t need for that task to be done at this time. His kingdom will not fall while you are on shore leave.

For more on a biblical theology of rest, listen to these Rest Series sermons from our church, Sojourn.

Many of you have experienced burnout, and I’m sure have learned from your experience. Will you share your practical insights and ideas for avoiding or overcoming burnout? Leave a comment below.


Craig J March 13, 2013 at 9:56 am

One way I attempt to guard my time is to leave work at work. This can be more difficult if the church you serve does not have an office for you. After 5:30PM, I attempt to invest in my children and home things and not work on aspects of the church leadership.

Bobby Gilles March 13, 2013 at 10:29 am

That’s great advice Craig — especially in this era of smart phones and Wifi. It’s so tempting to keep answering texts, emails and calls “after hours.”

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