3 Simple Practices for Overwhelmed Worship Leaders to Reduce Stress & Reclaim Joy

  • Written By 
  • Jonathan Swindal

Reduce Worship Leader Stress

I wrote about how and what to evaluate in your worship ministry a few months back. Certainly, there are things in every department that need to change. There are things we want to look, feel, and sound better. We want more talent and financial resources to accomplish the things that we know we can. But the most important thing to evaluate is often the most difficult: our health and well-being. How to reduce worship leader stress!

Why is it essential to reduce worship leader stress?

I’m not writing as a self-help guru—quite the opposite. What makes the pursuit of wholeness – “self-help” – worthwhile and virtuous is that, for Christians, it is actually for the sake of others.

I’m not pursuing healing to “be a better me” and feel more happiness as I maximize my potential. That’s not bad, but it’s not necessarily Christian. I pursue healing because, as a Christian, it’s understood that my life is being given away. And I desire what God intends – for what comes from me and through me to be life-giving to the people around me. For leaders, this is exponentially true. We can’t help but give ourselves away, even when we want to hold back and preserve. The person I am saturates the culture and atmospheres that people are moving in, even when they’re unaware.

How will we respond to the call?

We can see issues in our ministries and find dozens of external things to blame them on. Or we can slow down and ask the Holy Spirit to show us where we are unhealthy. Seeking how it’s negatively affecting the people we’re called to care for. I am far from the healthiest person I know, but I have recently tried to be very intentional with this pursuit. I’ve begun practicing habits that can make me a far more Christlike person.

There are dozens of spiritual disciplines that might be helpful to you. However, I recommend these because we, as worship leaders, are prone to particular temptations and struggles due to our exposure. Also, these practices will help us reduce worship leader stress.

For one, our job is performative.

We’re kidding ourselves when we act like it’s not. We don’t just worship God like David out in the pasture. We worship God on an elevated stage through a well-planned song set with a team that is all designed to lead other people to the Living God. It’s complicated, but it is performative.

Also, we do it every week whether we feel like it or not.

This means that most of us have learned how to avoid or cope with negative emotions for the sake of getting the job done. Because of this, many of us have a deep need to reduce worship leader stress in our lives.

Lastly, the nature of our job is noisy!

And sometimes, the noise can actually make it more difficult to hear God and know what’s actually going on inside of me. In light of these realities, here are three practices that I have found helpful for quieting my soul as to be opened up to the presence of God, and reducing the stress that comes with being a worship leader.

The 3 Simple Practices to Reduce Worship Leader Stress

1. Guidance

The Christian walk was never meant to be done alone. When it’s done best, it looks like us both discipling others and being discipled. We all need guides.

For me, this has looked like Spiritual Direction and Counseling.

I began Spiritual Direction about four years ago and have been in Counseling through two different periods of my life. The first was seven years ago and the second is now. Spiritual direction is the practice of sitting with someone who is trained to help you discern where God is present and active in your life. They ask questions and help you discover where God’s voice and invitation are in your life right now.

Counseling typically deals more with the mental and emotional aspects of who we are. It employs tools to help us work through and cope with our areas of past pain or current struggle.

If you’re looking for ways to reduce worship leader stress, I recommend both.

But if you’re only able to do one right now, decide which area you need more assistance in and pursue that. Find someone that you trust and that you will be blatantly honest with. Submit to their wisdom and guidance. It will be good for you!

A key way to reduce worship leader stress you may be experiencing is first by heeding wisdom and wise counsel.

Another great way for you to gain life-changing wisdom and insights is through our FREE Worship Mentors Book!

When facing questions on worship and leadership, who do you turn to for advice? We all need mentors, especially when we’ve become stagnant or faced with new obstacles. But getting a mentor can be hard. From finding the person, approaching them, and asking for help. So we’ve done the hard part for you.

Over the past three years, the Worship Online team and I have interviewed over 200 of the most influential worship leaders in the world. And we’ve distilled their best advice for worship leaders into this short action-packed book of tips and wisdom. Whether you want to become an exceptional leader, write heart-grabbing songs, experience more of God’s presence, or spread the love of Jesus to the world through music, you’ll find help in this book. 

There’s so much gold in this book, and I can’t wait to see how it impacts you and your ministry.


Worship Mentors Book

2. Silence & Solitude

Silence and solitude often go together. Tthey aim to separate us from noise and distraction to hear God and learn to be with Him alone. Because our occupation tends to emphasize the active parts of our spirituality (singing, praying, lifting hands, going to church – what we do), it’s healthy for us to employ a practice that engages the passive side of spirituality: simply being with God.

Of course, it’s not totally passive; it actually takes quite a bit of preparation and self-discipline. But silence and solitude remind us that we are loved when we are contributing nothing to the world, the Kingdom, or the conversation around us. God does not desire to be with us because we’re singing loud enough, we’ve gone to church enough, or chosen the perfect combination of songs for Sunday. Silence and solitude strip away our propensity to believe this all hinges on us. It does not. Rest in that.

3. Secrecy

I had never heard of secrecy as a positive thing until about three years ago when I discovered, in fact, it’s been a spiritual discipline for centuries! Secrecy is the practice of keeping your good deeds from being known. This harkens back to Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:3 to “not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

As Worship Leaders, we are in the spotlight as much as anyone else in a local congregation. We receive more than our fair share of public recognition. The discipline of secrecy works to resist the flesh as it grows to need and expect that recognition.

Find something that you can do that no one will credit you for.

Serve at an outreach that your church doesn’t promote or give to a family or organization that will not benefit you or earn recognition in any way. Affirmation runs rampant in healthy communities, but secrecy restrains the ego from gorging on the words of others. We must find our life in God and continue to give it away whether we’re recognized for it or not.

What you must remember in your pursuit

These disciplines will not ensure your healing and growth in Christlikeness any more than a trellis ensures that a grapevine will grow this year. They themselves can’t reduce worship leader stress you may be experiencing. It is the Spirit alone who can transform the human heart. But your chances are much higher when you submit to these tried and true practices. Practices that confront our egos and put us in a posture of submission to God and those whom God has placed around us.

Other posts like ours on how to reduce worship leader stress that we know you’ll love:

Ready to give it a try?

Get instant access to instrument and vocal tutorials for over 500 of today’s top worship songs!
Send this to a friend