How I Overcame Burnout — Part 4 Accountability and Community

Here’s the quick recap:
I’ve been burned out in ministry before.
You must take responsibility for your spiritual health. This means you must be taking steps everyday to grow closer to Jesus and further from sin.
You can’t always be “ON”. There needs to be times for you to receive at church and you need to honor the sabbath. For me that means one day a week I am off and not thinking about work. This needs to be the same day my wife and kids are off. It’s family fun day and we get to relax and be with each other and friends.
Learn when good enough is good enough. Strive for excellence. That’s the best you can do with your time, talent and tools. Too many times we strive for perfection and it’s based in the sin of pride. Focus on making Jesus look good in our work and our lives. He needs to look good both places.

Let’s finish this series up with our need for accountability and community. Just as our work can get out of balance, we will drift one day at a time from walking with Jesus and away from community and accountability. These relationships with others that go deeper than “How are you doing?” and “shop talk”. These deep relationships are not natural in our culture.

The biggest reason I’ve drifted out of community is my culture is addicted to busyness. We’re lazy and we look for shortcuts. In essence we’re living dietary supplements and Red Bull. Supplements and Red Bull are not bad in moderation. But if you’re skipping meals and just taking vitamins you’re not going to last long. If you’re skipping sleep and relying on Red Bull you’re not going to last long. In addition to a balanced diet and proper sleep, suppliments and Red Bull can be good, even beneficial. Well I have my doubts about Red Bull but I say that while I’m drinking a latte I just made.

The biggest shortcut that affects our relationships is technology. Technology should be a supplement to our relationships, not a replacement. Social networking should add to our relationships, not replace them. For a great book on the dark side of technology and social media check out Shane Hipps book Flickering Pixels. I’ve found great benefit to Twitter because it has allowed me to connect with other church media/ tech guys. It’s resulted in face to face, genuine friendships. Check out Church Tech Director’s Round Table as an example. While technology can keep me in touch with people far away it can also drive me away from those closest to me. Our culture drifts towards connivence instead of community.

The biggest reason I’ve drifted out of accountability is I’m ashamed of sin in my live.. In a culture that’s busy, it’s easy to hide. In a culture that focuses on how you look on the outside, it’s easy to hide. If we’re ashamed of sin in our lives, we hide from intimacy. Small groups are not the solution to overcome shame. I’ve been ashamed of sin in my life and in a small group. But I just put on a front and said I was fine, never admitting to my need of dealing with the hidden sin in my life. It’s not a small group we need it’s the cross of Christ we need. That is where our sins are forgiven and covered in the blood. It’s where we can stand up as Paul says in 2 Cor 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

Once I got things right with Jesus I realized my sinfulness pulls me away from God and away from accountability and towards the dark.

1 John 1:5-10 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that ​God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and odo not practice the truth. But ​if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is ​faithful and just to forgive us our sins and ​to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, ​we make him a liar, and ​his word is not in us.

When I got honest about my sin. I brought it to God to be forgiven and talked to my wife and a friend for accountability I found freedom. The power of that hidden sin was broken. The temptation may still come I know I have people I can be honest with. People who love me and will pray for me, encourage me and most of all will call out the sin they see in my life with love. I’ve set up accountability with them. I use x3watch.com on my computers and they can see my iPhone browser history anytime.

Some practical ideas for application:
– Is technology and social media enhancing relationships or tearing them down for you?
– Set up some boundaries for technology/ social media. Have times each day/ each week where you go dark and are not checking email, IM, texting, twitter or facebook. Instead focus on being present with the people you’re with.
– Are you accountable to someone? Are you honest with that person? You need someone of the same gender who you can be honest with. Someone you can trust to love you, accept you and kick your butt to step up and be a man (or woman) when it comes to dealing with sin.
– Is there hidden sin in your life? You need to get real with Jesus. Then begin to walk in the light and confess those sins to someone you can trust.

I pray my story can be an encouragement for you. At the least it’s been very cathartic and freeing to get my story in the light.

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October 23, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , . Personal Growth. 3 comments.

How I Overcame Burnout — Part 2 You Can’t Always Be “ON”

So my blog post about my burnout generated a lot of hits and has led to a few conversations the last few days. I thought I’d write a series about what I’m doing to take care of myself when it comes to working in the tech arts of a large church.

We started with Part 1: You’re Responsible For Your Walk With God

Today we’re focusing on Part 2: You Can’t Always Be On.

Most church tech guys are always “on” during a service. This means they are never free to receive during a service. I know I’ve been there. But when I changed jobs I made a conscious decision I was going to sit with my wife and worship together. It doesn’t always happen but I have to say it does about 80-90% of the time now. In 6 months I can count on one hand the times we haven’t sat together compared to 5 years where I could count on one hand the times we did sit together.

There was a season of life where not only was I on every service but I was out 5 nights a week at church events/ activities. It was early in my marriage. We didn’t have kids and my wife was with me a lot of the time but I wasn’t in a place where I was not receiving on a regular basis. I was only giving out.

Granted I’m not at a church that has a highly produced weekend service, we don’t do IMAG or broadcast and there was a great team in place before I got here. But I’ve made the conscious decision to not schedule myself and to trust in my team and Jesus to do a good job. I’ll be very hands on during practice. I’ll give feedback in between services. But during the service I let my volunteers run with it. And that means sometimes I let them fail. I’ve sat with my wife and we’ve had light cues goof up, wrong video cues play, audio cues missed and lyrics get off! Instead of jumping up out of my seat I let my volunteers handle it and learn from it. I’ll take time between services to talk to them and those mistakes have been great learning opportunities for my team. And those mistakes have not been repeated.

I used to freak out and stress out about the smallest mistakes during a service in the pursuit of excellence. But it wasn’t excellence I was seeking perfection. Yes details are important but does it really matter if that light cue was a 5 second transition instead of 6 seconds? I work with a few personalities that can get very uptight over the smallest details. But I’ve taken a much more relaxed attitude. An attitude that focuses on training, equipping and releasing my volunteers instead of me micromanaging everything. An attitude that says excellence in production can honor Jesus but it can’t change lives. Jesus alone changes lives.

As a result my teams have stepped up. They take the ownership. They strive for a higher standard because they take pride in their work not because it’s a fear of failure. As a result they’re free to be more creative (within some guidelines).

Here’s what I focus on:
-Prepare your team well by having systems and training in place to set them up to succeed.
-Practice ahead of time so everyone knows what’s going to happen and how to make the transitions.
-Pray because a church service is not about us. It’s about Jesus and people being drawn closer to Him and being changed by Him.

This has led my to trusting in my team to execute and trusting in Jesus to use us to make an eternal difference in someone’s life, not just entertain them for the morning. My job is to use my talents faithfully. Jesus job is to grow His Church.

There is a balance that must be found between excellence and perfection. No service involving fallen people using technology and gear created by fallen people will be perfect. But we should strive to do our best with the time we have, the talent we have and the tools we have. I strive to always improve but what’s the cost for things to go to the next level and is it worth it? This leads us to another post in this series: “When is good enough, good enough?” But first let’s close this out and make it very practical.

Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

When and where are you gathering together with other brothers and sisters in Christ to be encouraged? Are you, in your life, growing in love and as a result of an inward regeneration by the Holy Spirit, good works?

It’s not convenient in the production side of ministry but it’s essential. I know some guys don’t feel like they can be at church and “off” ready to receive. Well here are some practical ideas I’ve heard from other church tech guys:
– Talk with your boss about what’s reasonable. Where can you receive? You may be on staff but you can’t be expected to be “on” 100% of the time. You need to receive.
– How many hours are reasonable? I work hard, I’m passionate about what I do. But I need time off every week. For a season I had Friday afternoon off, Sat morning off, Sun afternoon off and Mondays off. If you added it up it seemed like plenty of time. But for me half days off don’t work. And is my off time the same time as my family?
– Some guys are always on on Sunday and can’t be off. Is there another service your church has that you can make sure you’re not on. Where you have no responsibility and can just be there to receive?
– Can you rotate weekends or services of when you can be off?
– Some guys work on multi-site churches and will visit another site to receive.
– Get involved in a small group! You need non tech relationships where you can process through life and your relationship with Jesus.
– I know some guys who visit another church on a Sat PM or Sun PM when they don’t have a service just so they can receive.

Your relationship with Jesus is the most important part of your life. You can’t give what you don’t have. You can’t lead where you haven’t been. You can only fake it for so long before things begin to crumble and break. Don’t let this shipwreck you faith and your life.

October 20, 2009. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Personal Growth. 2 comments.