Working behind the scenes in your church can be incredibly gospel-centered. But, for anyone who has a lot of behind-the-scenes responsibilities, you know that this is much easier said than done. When I first started vocational ministry, I had this romantic idea that everyday, I would approach my tasks as worship. I assumed that even when my plate was way too full, I would somehow, get more done than I had time for, through divine inspiration. Sometimes that happens, but there are also times when support tasks are draining and frustrating. Here are a few ways to avoid the pitfall of burnout amidst task-oriented roles in the Church.
1. Start with a solid vision. Spend some time thinking about and praying about why your work matters to the kingdom. Sometimes it can feel like the “up front” roles are most important, but they only thrive when support roles also exist. At my church, we often say that as good as the gathering is, if a person doesn’t have a “gospel experience” in the parking lot, the bathroom, and on their way to find their seat, then the gathering might be less impactful for them. Read more about vision for creative roles in my article, Creativity: For Glory and for Beauty.
2. Build a team. Ephesians 4:12 instructs us, “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ”. Sometimes investing in a team is more about giving people an opportunity to be ministry participants, than it is about helping you get more done. But, if you’re smart and intentional, building a team can accomplish both goals. Don’t forget to remind them regularly why what they are doing matters to the kingdom of God. Read more about building a team in my article, 6 Production Team Building Essentials.
3. Be an influencer. Whether it’s through a blog, a podcast, or social media, sharing your work with others is a great way to give a broader purpose to your tasks. It glorifies God when the Church collaborates and shares resources. Think of who could benefit from your unique experience and then engage them with the wisdom you have to offer. Building a network of people who have similar roles in churches can help inspire you as well as giving you an opportunity to inspire others.
4. Have lots of conversations with people in roles not like your own. This is a big one. Nothing has helped me be more flexible, positive, and genuinely gracious to my team more than taking time to understand what it’s like to do the work my teammates do.
5. Do things you love. Sometimes, we get so caught up in producing work, that we forget to experience life and fun. Refreshing yourself with the things you love in life is one of the best ways to fuel your passion and productivity.
6. Surround yourself with people who inspire you. Notice that I didn’t say “Surround yourself with creative and hard-working people”. How someone does their work, is much more contagious than what they produce. Not all people who are producing great work are going to drive you to do the same. You know yourself best, so evaluate what types of people inspire you to glorifies God and then invite them to give you advice and direction.
7. Set manageable goals. One of the most stress-relieving changes I have made in my job, has been looking to the future and setting manageable goals. For probably the first two years at my job, it seemed like I was just spinning my wheels to get a bunch of unimportant, urgent things done. But when I started anticipating the important, non-urgent tasks, I began making big strides in my effectiveness. So, a couple of times a year, set some goals for the future. Be realistic by choosing only one or two areas at a time to focus on for major growth or change.
8. Strive for excellence, but plan for mistakes. I think God is glorified when we bring our A game – when we start out a task planning to absolutely kill it! But I also think God is glorified when we are flexible and gracious if something derails our excellence. Whether it’s a mistake you or your team member makes or a technical difficulty, be ready to move on and keep working towards the best outcome.
9. Practice submission. Production roles are often executed the best when we have a passion for making someone else look good, or taking their vision and making it a reality. That takes a lot of trust and humility. I don’t know about you, but trust, humility and submission are not traits that I naturally demonstrate without the Holy Spirit. So, submit regularly to God through intimacy with Him, obeying His word, and engaging with His community. And as you submit to God, allow that to spill over to other headships God has placed in your life.