Confessions of a Worship Leader - Burnout

This month we are going to get real and personal. You will gain a better understanding of the worship leader role and how to pray for your worship leader. This week, it is our prayer that you are inspired to worship through the brokenness in your life. If you are just joining us in this series, click the buttons below to read previous Discussions in this series.




The Battle of Burnout

Even though I've been involved in ministry for just 11 years, at 23 years old, I understand the battle of burnout. You see, burnout does not care how old you are. Burnout does not care how long you've been doing what you've been doing. It's a slow process that you can't see coming, but when it hits, you know it. All of a sudden, you start questioning if what you're doing is even what you're supposed to be doing. You might ask yourself questions like, "Did I get something wrong? Is what I heard from God not what he actually said?" One of the most dangerous and fragile places you can be is a place where you doubt the voice of God.

Feel. The. Burn.

Some burnout is attributed to physical exhaustion that occurs when one is overworked, underpaid, or undervalued. Burnout can also occur due to an extreme focus on being "selfless" within church work. We may forget that a human being is putting forth effort, talent, and real hours of his or her life into what some may only see as an expected ministry.

Truth Check...

Let's be honest - how long has it been since you told your pastor your appreciation? What about your worship leader? Your children's workers? Your parking attendants? You get the idea. So, the next opportunity you get, thank somebody in ministry for what they do for the kingdom and for you, personally; it can go a long way.

When I worked in a mega church, a 40 hour week was a bare minimum. The amount of planning, effort, and man-hours it took to orchestrate just one Sunday service blew my mind. It can be a demanding and exhausting process. No wonder so many ministers experience burn out. God's Word tells us that rest is, in fact, a good and necessary thing. Guess what God Himself did after creating the universe...He rested. Let's not get wrapped up in the idea that our worth is dependent upon how many hours we put into work per week. And please, let's not get wrapped up in the numbers, either. It's so easy to get caught in the trap of comparison when we look only at our salaries to determine how much we are worth. God, in heaven, creator of all, said that we were worth dying for.

So, if you're starting to feel the burn, it may be time to take a break. Take some time off, even if it's just for a short while. There is healing in silence and stillness. The world we live in can be so chaotic and stressful - it's enough to drive anyone mad. God never said, "Run yourself ragged until I approve of you." He said, "Be still and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10).

Heal. The. Burn.

If you've made it this point in the article, I salute you. I try not to be offensive in my articles, but I do try to be honest. My pastor always told me, "The truth will set you free, but first it's going to hurt!" So brace yourself, it's time to take the burn-out!

Let me tell you about a time when I experienced burnout... I had been a worship leader working in a church for a while. One day, I realized I was apathetic about what used to bring me such joy. I had put so much of myself into this passion...We're talking over $100,000 in education to improve myself as a worship leader. Yet in that moment it felt like a huge waste. I wondered what I should do next.That's when I heard the Lord speak to me and say that loving him was my first and only priority; being a worship leader was merely a result of that love. So, from then on out, my mission was to stop identifying myself as a worship leader and start calling myself a worshiper. Somewhere along the line, the magic, the beauty, the ultimate experience of worshiping and loving my Father God had been taken from me.

What I realized (through a long journey of self-discovery and soul-searching) was that I lost my real identity. I became Sam the Musician. Sam the Worship Leader. Sam the Student. Whatever happened to just SAM? I had let my accomplishments swallow who I actually was. My pride got in the way of my purpose. When pride gets in the way of purpose you cannot accomplish His plan. But the good news is, God is patient. He wants his children to realize who they are and whom they are loved by. That is when burnout begins to disappear! There's really nothing you can do on your own to defeat burnout; the battle belongs to the Lord. Your part in all of this is to realize it and surrender completely to let God work in and through you.

I'll leave you with this. I was talking to my sister Ashley recently about the spiritual walk with God. God allowed her to see a vivid scene of an ash covered forest of blazing embers. A beautiful yet dangerous scene. You see, when wind blows through embers it almost always ignites a new destructive fire. But when the rains come, the fire is indefinitely put out. In your battle of burnout remember this...

God alone controls the wind and the rain.


This week I challenge you to pray for your Church Leaders who maybe experience burnout. I also want you ask you to encourage your church leaders, let them know that they are loved and appreciated. In addition, if you're the one experiencing burnout, our team has already been praying for you.

Exposing worship in spirit and truth,
Sam Lambert

Recommended Track of the Week: "Overwhelmed" by Big Daddy Weave