Sustainability – the reasons we blow it

Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the pace at which we move. And by that I don’t mean how quickly we walk down the hall or how fast we run. Rather, I mean the pace at which we live our lives. Lately, I’ve been trying to determine how I can live my life in a sustainable way; that is to say, at what pace can I move through life that I can maintain for the long haul. I call this my “sustainable pace.”

When I talk about a sustainable pace I mean this; working at a pace that enables you to remain fresh and enthused about what you’re doing, month after month, year after year. I qualify it that way because there will be weeks, and occasionally months that have us moving at a pace we could not sustain for long. Christmas and Easter come to mind. During those seasons, we work like crazy; after those events, we need some time off to recharge. It’s not a flatline pace, but the average needs to be comfortable.

Young church techies are especially vulnerable to running too fast, too hard for too long. Because we love what we do, we pour ourselves into it. As geeks, we often have no life, so we spend every waking moment at work trying to make it “1” better. After a year or two, we burn out and quit. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about.

As I’ve considered this phenomenon, I have identified three factors that keep us working too much. To be fair, sometimes church leadership places unrealistic expectations on us. They don’t understand the process, don’t appreciate how long things really take to get done, and don’t provide the resources necessary to do that job. Most of the time, however, it’s our own fault. See if any of these sound familiar.

We think of ourselves more highly than we ought.
I’ve talked to plenty of sound guys who will say with a perfectly straight face, “I’m really the only one in this place that knows how to mix.” Shoot, I’ve been one of those guys. We can easily convince ourselves that we are pretty much God’s gift to this local assembly and if we’re not here, everyone else may as well stay home.

Here’s the real deal, though. We’re not that good. And everyone else is not that bad. The truth is, God has been moving for a long time without perfectly EQ’d vocals. Sure it may not sound or look quite as good if you take a week off, but where two or three are gathered in Jesus’ name, it’s church, and He’s going to show up and change lives.

We don’t train others.
This is kind of a corollary to the first lie. Because we’re pretty sure there’s no one else around with nearly as much talent as we possess, there’s really no point in even trying to train someone else. This lie is a double-whammy. First, we prevent other people in the body from using their gifts to serve God. And that’s a problem. Second, it puts us in a position where we need to be there all the time because no one else even knows how to turn the dang system on.

I know of church techs who kept so much knowledge to themselves, they made themselves indispensable. Churches that allow this to happen are in danger are partially at fault. I constantly say to people at my church, “Here, let me show you how to do this so I’m not the only one who knows.” I call it the, “if I’m hit by a bus,” strategy. We need to train others. If only because there will come a day we just can’t make it in.

We are insecure.
I read a great quote the other day (though sadly I can’t recall where). “The creative personality is a 50/50 mix of ego and insecurity. During the day, we’re on top of the world, confident every decision we make is the right one. At night we go home wondering if we have what it takes to fool them again tomorrow.”

Sometimes, it doesn’t take me even 8 hours to swing from, “Man, I’m really good at what I do,” to “I suck at this and should be flipping burgers at McDonalds.” We can be insecure about watching our students become better than the “master.” We can be insecure about someone else getting credit. We can be insecure because an usher told us the music is too loud.

As a result, we feel we have to be there every week to prove, once again, that we know what we’re doing. That we’re indispensable. That we’re worth something. I could go on for a while about this one, but let me leave you with this thought–and it’s been one I’ve had a hard time learning most of my life.

God doesn’t love you for what you do.

He loves you for who you are.

Read that as many times as you need to for it to sink in.

God doesn’t love you more because you created a great worship set last weekend.

He loves you because you’re His child and He created you.

He doesn’t get mad at you for taking a day off. In fact, He modeled that for you.
God wants you to do what He created you do to, and enjoy doing it. For a long, long time.

Slow down. And find the right pace for your life.

This is a guest post by Mike Sessler, a Tech Arts Director and creator of an incredibly useful website full of info and insight into the technical side of worship. Mike has created a page just for Musicademy readers with links of posts he thinks you will find helpful so do click through and have a read.

Mike will be contributing new posts from a tech perspective in the future. If there are particualar areas you would like him to cover, please post your comments below. And do let us know what you think of this post too!