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4 Signs of Worship Leader Burnout

Guest post by Adam Rainwater

Burnout is real. If you are curious enough to read this then that might be an indication that you are starting to burn out or have already burnt out. We ignore the signs like we ignore our “Service Engine Soon” light. So what are the signs?

1. Little things REALLY bother you.

Any kind of conflict makes you really angry! Like SUPER angry. If someone challenges something you are doing and you can feel your heart beat in your ears because you are getting so mad, that might be a good sign that you are burnt out. Or maybe you just have some serious anger issues that you really need to deal with pronto! At any rate, you might be burning out.

2. You find yourself doing the bare minimum.

You are no longer dreaming about the future, instead you find yourself cutting things out of your week just so you can survive. I find that when I am most healthy I can do what I normally have to do in a week and then have the energy to do other things. If you find that your hobbies just seem like too much to handle, it might be a sign of burnout.

3. You find yourself complaining about everything.

“Someone is debating the lyrics of Reckless Love again!” Whatever it is, if you find yourself complaining a lot, it could be a sign of some much deeper problems. I know when I am burnt out I complain a lot! If we are evaluating an church event we just had in a staff meeting, I will complain about how hot it was, how much work it was to set up, how I thought there weren’t many people that showed up and that we shouldn’t waste our time on such events. Complaint after complaint after complaint. You are sinking deeper into Burnt-out-land, population: you.

4. The idea of starting a new project exhausts you greatly.

Lets say you have just had a staff meeting and there is a new project on the horizon. Everyone on staff seems to be excited about it but you find yourself exhausted just thinking about getting started on it, and you can’t even muster up the enthusiasm to begin to think about it.

Now this could just mean you are lazy, but if you have related to other points in this article as well, you may be burning out. I know when I feel burnt out just the thought of starting a new project makes me want a nap. I think this speaks to our motivation and our energy. When both of those are low, burnout is right around the corner.

So what do we do?


No I am not talking about jogging or training for a marathon, that kind of running is of the devil and you don’t need that in your life.

I am talking about run. Retreat. GET AWAY!

Get a fill-in for a Sunday, take a few vacation days, just get away from the stress of your job.

Jesus retreated. “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” -Luke 5:16

The only real solution to burnout is rest. You need to get away and get refreshed. Now some of us will say, “Hmmm, time away huh? Well I can take a vacation with my family and get away! Kill two birds with one stone!”


Stop that.

If you are married and you have kids there is no such thing as a vacation, there are only work trips. Yes you will get away, but most of the time you will come back more exhausted than you already are! You need some retreat time. Now I know that is almost impossible for some of us, so maybe you should consider...

Sabbatical Moments

Sabbatical basically means time off and every church differs on their definition of sabbatical. Often you have to work 5,10, or 15 years in order to qualify for a month off.

My suggestion is building sabbatical moments into your day or week. I live in West Texas and the landscape... well... it leaves much to be desired. But we do have a cemetery that is really nice, now hang with me! I know I said cemetery and that is creepy and I agree, but at this cemetery there are lots of trees and there is a high hill that you can stand on and see for miles. I find myself going to that place almost daily, sometimes twice a day. I will leave for the office just a little bit early and I drive to the top of that hill in the cemetery and I turn my truck off, get out, put my keys in my pocket, and I just stand there and be.

I will do my best to not think of anything and hold off praying for just a little bit. I will stand there and feel the breeze on my face and listen to the the wind blow the wind chimes that people have placed by the headstones of their loved ones. Side-note: Wind chimes by a headstone is creepy! Why would you do that? Anyways, I digress.

You need moments like these in your day. Sometimes taking vacation days or a month off just isn’t in the cards.

But Jesus needed time away from everyone to re-charge, to recenter himself and to check in with his Heavenly Father to make sure he was doing what he was suppose to be doing.

So go find your “cemetery". Find that place where you can go and get away just for a little while. Leave for the office earlier or when you go out to lunch, before you head back to the office, go to your place of retreat for a few minutes and have a sabbatical moment. Look for those sabbatical moments. Be intentional about them. If not you could burn out and find yourself yelling at someone over coffee creamer or something small and insignificant. Even worse you could have a huge moral failure and before you know it you have lost your ministry, your wife, and your kids. We can easily say we will never get to that point, but in reality, we are all a few decisions away from losing it all.

Choose today to take care of yourself. In the event of a crash on an airplane they will tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.

You can’t help other people if you are dead.

Be like Jesus, get away to those lonely places. Find moments in your day or week where you can get away and just be. Sabbatical moments are there, it is up to you to look for them.

Also don’t put wind chimes by your loved ones head stone, it is creepy.

Adam Rainwater is the Worship Pastor at South Seminole Baptist church in Seminole, Texas. He has been leading worship for the past 12 years.


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