[Post by Brian Gowing] My last article definitely struck a nerve with more responses affirming situations that we all hope, as technical ministry folks, don’t want to experience but they continue to happen. Reading some of the replies just tore my heart out. If only the pastors or worship leaders could see they are creating the very toxic environment they preach against during a service. I wonder what they would say? Is it possible they don’t even realize how much they are burning people out and leaving them embittered and frustrated instead of joyfully serving the Lord through the technical ministry?
I wanted to share an update on my situation. Hopefully you may be able to glean some ideas on ways to talk to your pastors or worship leaders and maybe get back on your feet. If you read the article, you’ll know that I basically washed my hands from the technical ministry at my church due to overwork both in and outside the church. I took a sabbatical to clear my head and, more importantly, spent the time in quiet solitude praying to God about what He wanted me to do. I deliberately stepped away from the noise of being continually busy and went into the dessert to hear God’s voice.
As an introvert, I get drained by being around people all week. I need time alone to recharge my batteries. I suspect a lot of us in technical ministry are introverts. Until I realized that as an introvert we need alone time to fill our energy tank back up I always wondered why I’d get so tired and irritable. Once I recognized what my psyche needed, I started watching for the warning signs and would take a day off. Unfortunately, with the major build at our summer camp, working my normal job and working the weekends at church my batteries were on empty.
So I stayed away from church for 3 weeks. Should I have done that? From my viewpoint at that point, yes, from my pastor’s viewpoint, no, but more on that later.
Anyway after cooling off for 3 weeks I decided that I should meet with the pastor to clear the air between us. The meeting was not all sweetness and light with both of us sticking to the points we thought were important to each of us. There was a point that we decided to agree to disagree on and move on. My pastor’s worldview is 100% black-and-white. My worldview is more 50% black-and-white, 50% gray. There was even a point of loud voices on both sides. It was, what I would call, an interesting meeting.
During the meeting though, my pastor affirmed that my ministry and my leading the ministry was valuable to him and the church. We agreed that, even if we had differences of opinion, that we both wanted what was good for the church and God. We agreed to look past our differences, bury the past, and move forward with our eyes on the prize.
Let that sink in for a moment. Both of us had different viewpoints on certain things but we both agreed that those differences weren’t enough for either of us to die on the hill for. We each gave in a bit, albeit grudgingly in some instances. I called him out on some things, he called me out on some things. We addressed the elephants in the room. And at the end we decided that God was better served by us being united than being divided. The only way this could have happened was with God in the room. God brought both of us before Him bowing down in humility wanting to fix what was broken. If either of us had kept our pride that we started out the meeting with, the outcome would have been very different.
We are both working on our relationship, each of us willing to concede a little more ground than before. We both love each other and our church.
So what does that mean for my ministry? I’ve taken steps to not burn myself out. I talked with our worship pastor and he wants to use me more as a consultant/overseer than someone who runs sound/video/lights on Sunday. I’ll have the flexibility to be in the booth overseeing the team when I want to and at other times, just be able to attend one of our three weekend services. My pastor has bent over backwards to make me and my family know how much we are appreciated. I’ve also made it a point to let him know how much we appreciate him.
I hope this gives some of you hope. For those of you in bad situations, I can’t say that what I did would work in your situation. I do know that asking God’s advice and listening even when I didn’t want the advice He was giving made a world of difference to my situation. Chips on anyone’s shoulder don’t ever help. I’m glad He knocked them off me and my pastor’s shoulders before we could do any more damage.