Hitting the Wall

Worship Pastor/Music Leader, do you ever “hit the wall?”  Distance runners and cyclists will recognize that term, or its cycling parallel, “hitting the bonk.”  My distance running has been limited to jogging a few miles a day or two a week to try and stay in shape, and my bicycling limited to helping my children learn to ride when they were at that age a good while ago.  Nevertheless, I think the terms can be used to help us who plan and lead worship weekly to consider our conditioning for the long haul of lifetime worship leadership.

Runners face certain mile markers in a distance run, or in training for distance runs, that present an obstacle, or a wall to be overcome.  Whether it happens at five miles, ten, or passing the half-   marathon mark on the way to conquering the full marathon, there are walls along the way that present a psychological and physical challenge to the runner.  I believe worship music leaders face hurdles over the years of service as they seek to be effective, faithful, successful, and fulfilled in their ministry.  I could extend the runner-cyclist analogy, but rather than waste space with such, I want to go straight to the heart of the matter(s) related to continued ministry through worship leadership and pastoring for the worship pastor/music minister.

It has been my experience, personally, and what I hear by discussion with hundreds of worship music leaders over the years, that there are multiple distractions that become hurdles along the way of serving in Worship Ministry.  Let me name a few:

·         taming our ambition to be in a bigger and better church setting

·         being considered too young by elder members of a congregation

·         being considered too old by younger members of a congregation

·         working with a pastor whose sermon planning challenges your work pattern

·         serving with pastors and/or staff whose philosophies differ from our own

·         making transitions in music style to fit a changing congregational or pastoral

·         expectations

·         adapting music ministry schedules to fit changing lifestyles of our people

·         scaling music ministry scope and groups to fit a changing congregational

environment and expectations

·         retooling for changes in our culture and community

·         changing technical demands of the ministry and the music

·         working through tense staff relations or situations

·         adjusting to workload changes

Like I said, these are just a few of  the hurdles.  There are many others.  I believe there are different ways that we face these hurdles depending somewhat on our station in life and ministry tenure.  My ministry with churches and worship leaders largely seeks to provide environments and networks where help and encouragement are available for the challenges we all face.  In fact, we have recently introduced a new ministry among participants in our state singing groups called “AMP” (Accountability Ministry Partners), which was instituted largely to help one another through just these sorts of circumstances in ministry.  In many cases younger ministers are paired with those who have more experience and the relationships are mutually beneficial – younger guys and gals get the benefit of having those with more experience speak into their lives; we older guys and gals get the benefit of hearing new trends and attitudes of a younger generation.  It’s all about edifying one another, strengthening our commitment to share the Gospel effectively, balancing healthy tradition with contextual relevance that are effective in fostering authentic worship in all of our churches.  You know, I have found that helping others in similar ministry settings can actually help you find renewed purpose and strategies in your own setting as well.

I am also finding there are many guys and gals, that have served faithfully for decades in worship music ministry who are now in a time of life that should be a time of enjoying and celebrating the fruit of their labors, but instead are “hitting the wall.”  Whereas they have worked through numerous challenges over the years, this one is not like the others.  At a time that it seems they should be able to rely on their vast experience to fuel effective ministry, they are discovering that someone has changed the proverbial scorecard.  Whereas they may have found ways to get over many of the previously mentioned hurdles at other times in their ministry  they now face a very real  struggle to find the right path to finishing well.

Here are some remedies to consider for this formidable (maybe the most formidable) challenge (wall) of all:

·         Remember Who called you and depend on that relationship above all others

·         Assess what is needed for you to maintain a sense of personal integrity in

your ministry – musically, spiritually, physically, emotionally

·         Strengthen relationships in and out of your congregation including other

ministers who understand the unique challenges of ministry longevity

·         Prayerfully develop a plan toward spiritual refreshment and renewal – such

as personal retreat, devotional plans, ministry action not connected to work, time with your spouse and family

·         Take advantage of denominational resources and other trusted sources for

assessments in areas of vocation, finances, ministry approach, general

health as needed

·         Consider work with a consultant or coach for professional and personal

issues to work through particular challenges

·         After assessing your situation consider a transparent discussion with those

who have authority over you – pastor, personnel committee, deacons or elders as appropriate to  see if they will support needed adjustments

I pray we will all find renewed strength in the substance at the very core of our ministry of worship itself – God in Christ present through the Holy Spirit who convicts, rebukes, comforts and renews.  As we worship the Author of life, let’s not let life in the ministry overwhelm us.  Hear instruction through the Word, spoken and read.  Let the songs and singing speak to your own heart – “Why should I be discouraged? His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.”  “I need no other argument, I need no other plea.”  “Savior, He can move the mountains.  Our God is mighty to save!”



Explore posts in the same categories: Church Music, Leading Worship, Private Worship, Singing Worship, Spiritual formation through singing, Worship Leaders, Worship Pastors, Worship Reminders, Worship thoughts

2 Comments on “Hitting the Wall”

  1. Tom Says:

    Thanks Paul. You hit me right where I am these days. Thanks for your words of encouragement.

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