8 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Quit the Worship Team (& How to Tell Your Leader)


Leaving the worship team is a big deal and not an easy decision!

 

As a leader, it’s one of the saddest things for me to be told because I truly love the people on my teams and I love getting to serve alongside them. BUT transition is an inevitable, and sometimes a completely necessary part of life.

Sometimes other factors are at play that we think leaving the team will solve and they truly will not.

So how do you know if transitioning off the team is right or not?

It’s definitely not an easy decision to make & we believe these 8 questions will help you narrow down if it’s truly time for you to transition off the worship team.

 

1) Has Something Changed in My Life that Truly Makes Me Unavailable?

 

Listen if you just had a baby or are close to having a baby GUESS WHAT… it’s probably smart to step down from serving for a time! Pretty self-explanatory & I imagine everyone reading this is thinking, “DUH!” BUT why I mention it is because there are major life events that simply prohibit our ability to continue serving. And it’s important that we start by stating that. 

I’ve experienced people genuinely feeling so bad about leaving or taking a break from the worship team when a major life event causes them to justifiably no longer be available to serve.

So if that’s you – be at peace. You’re not a bad person or wrong for stepping down. In the process of stepping down, consider asking the question of if and when you’d like to start serving again and maybe communicate that to your leader.

 

2) Am I Actually Too Busy or Do I Struggle with Time Management?

 

A few years ago I was serving as both the youth pastor at my church, one of the worship directors at a Christian university, & regularly played on the worship team at my church. Talk about an overflowing plate.

There was a moment where I felt so confused because I knew the Lord had specifically instructed me to take both of my roles & I didn’t want to quit them, but I was exhausted. I called one of my dear friends (an incredible worship pastor that is a regular guest writer here, Jonathan Swindal) to process what I should do. 

I’ll never forget what he told me!

He said, “Josh, I don’t think the issue here is if you have the capacity to do both roles or not. I think the issue is you don’t know how to manage your life!”

Talk about a punch to the gut. But he was right! I was the king of procrastination and doing everything the day before and because of that my schedule was insane. 

Mondays I’d work at the University from 8am-9pm/10pm. Tuesdays I’d work all day and then come home and prepare the message youth until around 10pm. Wednesdays I’d start at the University at 7am and then wrap up the day after youth group at 10:30pm. Thursday, work a full day. Friday, work a full day. Most Sundays, serve at church from 6:45am-1:15pm.

I was depleted!

As I shared my typical weekly schedule with Jon, we talked through how I could move around different things that I needed to do each week and how to shrink them into smaller pieces so that I wasn’t roasting myself three days in a row (Mon-Wed) and then drained by the time Thursday came around.

Problem solved! Not because I didn’t have the capacity to do all that God had called me to. It was because I didn’t ever think through how to healthily approach and steward the time it would take to do what He called me to.

How about you?

Maybe you could do the same thing that Jon walked me through and move things around in your schedule. Or maybe you need to think through your priorities and consider if there’s things you need to simply stop doing. Open up the screen time usage app on your phone and see how much time you’re wasting on social media that you could spend practicing or doing other things that you need to do.

Stewardship is never an accident. We only have so much time. How are you stewarding it? If we stewarded our time better, we’d be able to prioritize what it takes to prepare, recharge, and have larger capacities!

 

3) Should I Serve Less Instead of Not at All?

 

As humans, we often think in extremes. All in or all out. But what if the answer isn’t “stop”, but “less”.

I mentioned in the last point that Jon and I determined there were some things that I needed to do to take better control of my life. One thing that process led me to was instead of quitting the worship team, simply reduce the amount I would serve to once a month.

This provided the free space in my jam-packed schedule that I needed while still allowing me to continue serving on the team that I loved!

Maybe that’s the right move for you too.

 

4) Is there Something My Leader Could Tweak/Adjust?

 

Every time I’ve been appointed as a leader over a team, it’s important to me to get everyone on that team together to build relationships and come around the team vision. So in that typical fashion, one Saturday morning after being appointed as the Worship Pastor at a church I hosted a Saturday morning vision breakfast. In that conversion that morning I discussed how I planned to approach scheduling, posting the sets, and what they could expect from me in that space.

One of those expectations was that we would always have the songs for each worship set posted 10 days before the service; giving everyone ample time to prepare.

At the end of the breakfast, one of the team members named Natalie came up to me and expressively thanked me over and over again for saying that we would have the songs posted 10 days before each service happened.

Turns out, she was on the verge of quitting the team because every Sunday that she served she was in her head while on stage, unable to focus on worshipping, and completely lacking confidence in herself. Not because she didn’t think she was talented, but because she didn’t have enough time between when the songs were normally posted and the day of service to adequately prepare.

What if the answer IS that simple?

Here a team member that loves serving and is incredibly gifted literally almost left the team because something as simple as posting the songs earlier was implemented. Now yes, sometimes a song or two would change in the set between when they were posted and the day of service, BUT it’s way easier to learn 1 or 2 songs last minute than 4 or 5.

In the same way as Natalie, is there a little tweak that you could talk to your leader about that would eliminate the stress you’re feeling?

Do you need more time to prepare? Would it help if you had a playlist of upcoming new songs to listen to so you’re more familiar with those songs by the time they start getting scheduled? A song arrangement map of how the song will be structured? Tutorials on how to play the parts in order to help you shorten the amount of time it takes to prepare?

I’m sure your worship pastor would love to discuss or brainstorm with you about what they can do to help serve whatever need you may have.

 

5) If Burnout is the Reason, Will Quitting Actually Fix it?

 

Let me start off by saying this, and this might be mildly controversial, but I do not believe in the language some leaders have about burnout; teaching “There’s no such thing as burnt-out in serving the Kingdom of God.”

That quickly and easily turns into shaming and manipulation. 

I’ve seen plenty of spaces have big and borderline unrealistic expectations for those that serve on their teams. What we have to remember is people also have jobs, families, and other obligations. And just because we as leaders are thriving and feel alive in our roles and don’t feel like we’re asking too much, doesn’t mean everyone else is wired just like us.

We have to be careful that we don’t make dogmas out of our personal experiences.

Leader, just because you’re not drained and you don’t think you’re asking too much, doesn’t mean that’s the case for everyone else.

On the other hand, I was talking to a new friend of mine the other day about burnout. He said that in all of his years in ministry almost every time he’s been told by someone that they need to step down because they’re tired and burnt-out, they typically aren’t people who in their personal lives regularly practice life-giving rhythms such as silence, solitude, and daily communion with the Lord.

We have to remember, God doesn’t call us to a daily life of spiritual formation to appease Himself. He calls us to daily spiritual formation because He knows it brings us life!

I love Martin Luther’s quote, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” Luther knew that the greatest source of life, peace, fulfillment, etc. wasn’t found in doing less, but in ensuring he put himself in the presence of God. Engaging in practices that refill our souls usually does way more for us than just taking something off of our plate.

Maybe a better way to navigate quitting because of burn-out is by asking this question: “Is the issue that the expectations to serve are too much or am I not prioritizing my personal spiritual health?”

 

6) Is it Right to Disqualify Myself for Insecurity or Becoming Prideful? 

 

In 2013 I was at a worship conference and at the end of one of the breakout sessions, Misty Edwards was hosting a Q&A. This girl walks up to grab the microphone and begins to ask Misty this question. “Hey, so at what point do you decide that you should take a step down from the worship team? Like when do you know you’re being too prideful and you’re doing it for the wrong reasons and decide that because of it you need to take a break? And then when do you decide that it’s okay to start serving and leading again?”

Misty’s answer that day hit me so so hard:

I don’t ever take a step down for something like that! Stepping down doesn’t fix anything. Stepping down in this scenario is like putting leaves over a hole and walking away. Those first few weeks off stage in worship will be amazing, because you’re standing there only focused on encountering His heart. Likely the feeling of pride will go away too & you’ll think you conquered it. Then eventually at some point you’ll decide to start serving again because you think your heart is back in the right place. So you jump back in and a few months go by and you’re loving the pure place of worship that you’re leading from. It’s amazing! But after a few months, maybe 5 or 6, all of a sudden that feeling of pride will start to come back again. Why? Because taking a break didn’t take care of the issue. Pride exposed a hole in the ground, you put leaves over it by stepping down, went to a different yard, & then eventually came back to that same place. You started walking around in that yard again and eventually you walked through that pile of leaves and you fell right back into that same familiar hole. 

Don’t put leaves over the hole. Fill the hole!

Lead through seasons of pride and fighting for purity in your worship. Get in the place of encounter and intimacy with the Lord off the stage. Fight to keep seeing your first love & remind yourself of His faithfulness & wonder. That’s how you fill the hole! 

The same thing applies with our insecurities… 

The only way that we learn to win the battle is by staying in the fight. 

For example, I know it can be so intimidating when you’re serving on a worship team with people that excel at the thing you also do. BUT GUESS WHAT if you’re on stage leading your congregation it’s because someone saw your gift and still chose you to be up there.

Trust your leader who saw your ability and still chose to put you on the team. That doesn’t mean that we don’t steward our giftings and strive to get better, but in the process be at peace!

Whatever the reason is for you feeling insecure, put in the work to discover what the insecurity is revealing you believe about yourself, seek out healing in that area, & in that process don’t let it steal your worship.

 

7) What if I’ve Lost Passion or I’m Struggling with Doubt?

 

We have to remember that Jesus never promised us that our spiritual lives would be like an up and to the right graph of feeling better and better, it getting easier and easier, more and more effortless, and stepping into deeper levels of certainty and confidence. 

In fact, look at the life of King David! A mighty man hailed as the one “after God’s own heart”. 

I would imagine that someone known for that would be someone that has a spiritual life of constantly getting better and better, yet 70% of the things he wrote in the Psalms were laments; passionate, without holding back, cries to the Lord about his doubts, his frustrations, his fears. Cries of, “Where are you? I can’t feel you anymore!” 

Think about that, the majority of the things that David wrote were expressions of “I’m not okay” and YET this man was still known for being a man after God’s own heart.

God is not expecting you to be in a place of perfection in order to lead His people.

In fact, I would dare to say nothing is more encouraging to those in your congregation that are walking through the same thing as you are than seeing someone on stage that is in the midst of their struggle and still chooses to push through & pursue the Lord.

The worst place to be in the midst of a loss of passion and/or questioning is in isolation! It’s in those times that we must lean into community, lean into wise council, and fight to find Jesus.

Here’s the best part… He always meets us at some point on our road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35).

As the disciples hung their heads low, walking back home after Jesus’ crucifixion, I’m sure full of so many questions and doubts and, “was Jesus who he truly said he was?”, there was a moment on that long journey home, where Jesus showed up, met them where they were, and before revealing himself to them he answered the questions that were fueling their doubts and reignited the passion in their hearts.

Our life is a journey filled with ups and downs, highs and lows. Seasons of passion and confidence. Seasons of dryness and doubt. If you find yourself in a dry place or full of questions and doubt, know Jesus is still WITH YOU.

Ask your questions, don’t be scared of them.

He will meet you on your journey and like the disciples who walked back home full of questions, he will lead you through them. Just like the disciples at the end of that story too, your eyes will open and you will see Him there.

Hold on to hope. Your resolve to still choose the Lord, He sees as beautiful. There’s something that this season of pursuit will yield in your life that no other season can. And know, just like David – whether you are full of confidence or full of doubt, passionate or dry, He still sees you in your pursuit as someone running after His own heart.

 

8) Am I Leaving because an Area of My Heart is Offended or Hurt?

 

Listen, I want to be the first person to say hurt and offense are real things.

If this is the reason that you are wanting to step down, here’s something I want to encourage you with: In every type of relationship there are moments where offense and letdown arise. I obviously do not know your situation, but I myself have had my own experience with being hurt and let down by leaders. 

Here’s what I’ve found in the times I’ve decided to release offense and seek reconciliation instead of harboring the hurt.

It not only takes the relationship between myself and that individual to a deeper level, but it provides a growth opportunity for me and that leader to both have our eyes opened to the broken things going on that caused that hurt to take place. This helps me and them grow and be healthier as people. Not just in our relationship, but in every other relationship too.

It’s so easy to get hurt and then walk away!

I completely understand how at times it might be the only thing we have the capacity to do too. But there’s something beautiful that takes place when we seek what the Lord’s called us to and resolve our hurts through reconciling our relationships.

The other thing that I’ve noticed is this…

Unresolved hurts usually find their way of coming back up in our lives & can become a lens through which we look at our future leaders. Unfairly projecting our past experiences and hurts onto them.

I’ve met a lot of people that have come through the doors of my church who talk about how they used to be plugged in at a few different churches around town, but all of those leaders were awful and they hurt them. 12 months later guess what… they left my church & went on to the next church, telling those new leaders all about how I did the same thing too.

I’m not saying I’m a perfect leader and there’s no way I could have hurt someone. OF COURSE I HAVE! I’m human and far from perfect. But when we jump around from church to church, constantly leaving because we are hurt, it’s wise to notice who is the common denominator. Maybe there’s something unresolved in our hearts that’s keeping us prone to offense and unforgiveness.

Why do these things keep happening to you? Ask the Lord.

Again, I am not saying that hurt or offense aren’t real and justifiable. Nor am I saying that if you’ve been hurt by a leader in the church, you are 100% to blame. What I am saying is that deeper levels of trust come through resolve and reconciliation.

Instead of jumping straight to leaving the team because of what your leader has done, what would it look like to seek reconciliation?

I know it would bring peace and freedom to your soul. It provides an opportunity for whatever the issue is to have a light shined on it and deeper levels of growth to be attained. 

Iron sharpens iron.

If we are constantly leaving relationships the moment they get tough or uncomfortable, then we’ll never get sharpened.

Lean into the uncomfortable and see a greater sharpening take place.

 

So Now What?

 

Now that you’ve worked through these 8 questions, I hope you have a greater understanding of if transitioning off the team is the right call for you. 

If it in fact isn’t, then great! I really hope this has given you the perspective and shift you needed. If you know that it’s definitely time to transition I want to give you a few things on what’s the best and most honoring way to transition off a team.

 

Telling Your Worship Pastor You’re Transitioning Off the Team

1) If the reason you are leaving the team is because of an issue you have or decision was made that you disagree with, please have a conversation with your leader before announcing you’ve decided to leave. 

Like I said in the section about offense and hurt, reconciliation is what we’re called to as Kingdom people. And reconciliation doesn’t always mean that you have to stick around either. 

I would dare to imagine that if something took place that’s causing you to leave, other people might have the same thought as you do too. Seeking to have a conversation with your leader to open their eyes and provide an opportunity to grow without leaving will benefit more than just you.

2) Volunteers aren’t like Walgreens; they’re not on every corner. 

So if you are in fact going to transition out, consider giving your leader a 1-2 month transition period so they have an adequate amount of time to find your replacement.

SIDENOTE: The holiday season is absolutely crazy and if it is at all possible, please hold on through this crazy time of year. There are so many people traveling and extra services taking place that require more time from those we serve alongside. I know your worship pastor would greatly appreciate your availability through such a hectic time!

3) Consider helping your leader find a replacement.

I know finding someone to fill your position is not your responsibility, but you know people that your leader doesn’t know. You have relationships with people that would totally get involved if you recommended that they did. So as a last little opportunity to invest in your community, take some time to think through who would be a great addition to your worship team.

 

If you decide to leave, thank you for all the time and sacrifices you’ve made to serve your community and lead them into the presence of God. 

 

Create some space to remember and celebrate those impactful, powerful moments of encounter that you had while on stage. Feel the weight of the well done good and faithful that the Lord is speaking over you. 

You impacted people’s lives in a mighty way. As someone whose life looks different because of times where I deeply encountered the Lord in a regular ole sunday morning or wednesday night service, all I can say is how grateful I am that people like you did what it took to create those spaces for me.

Well done!

 

 

 


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