Five Reasons You’re a Stressed-Out Worship Leader

Which Kind of Leader Are You?

You might be one of three kinds of worship leaders on how you respond to this blog post title: “Five Reasons You’re a Stressed-Out Worship Leader.” 

The first kind of worship leader is all “zen” (in a Christian sort of way, of course).

He’s like, “Dude! I’m not stressed out. It’s all good, yo! I just go with the flow of the Spirit and it all works out.”

But you know that chill attitude will turn hot and frantic quick when something in his ministry goes utterly sideways.

The second kind of leader is more realistic. She’s like, “Yeah, I could probably name at least two or three of the reasons without reading that blog post.”

And then there’s the third kind of worship leader who’s like, “Hello?! Only five?? I could give you 146 reasons right now!”

So I’m not sure which worship leader you most resemble, but if you’re like most of us, probably the second or third.

These five reasons are certainly not the only reasons a worship leader would be stressed out. But I chose these five because they share a similar connection (which we’ll talk about at the end).

So let’s find out five reasons why you might be stressed out. And make sure you read to the bottom, because I want to give you some help (for free) if you find any of these reasons fit you.

5 Reasons You’re A Stressed-out Worship Leader

1. You’re in a weekly crazy-cycle.

As a worship leader, so much of your job is about meeting the urgent demands of Sunday (after Sunday after Sunday after Sunday).

As a result, you neglect the important (but non-urgent) stuff that you know you need to get done:

  • developing team members
  • finding new musicians and techs
  • training leaders
  • shepherding your team members
  • planning for future stuff
  • etc.

And every week you get through “this Sunday” just to find that another one is only six days away (and demanding all your time…again).

Does that sound about right? That’s the weekly crazy-cycle. And it’s stressful.

2. You’re building the airplane on the way down.

There are things you often do in ministry, but not often enough to get in the groove. So you don’t ever create a clear-cut process. A great example is qualifying a potential new team member.

Every time a new person comes through, you’re recreating the process differently each time—how you interview or audition, what songs you use, which team members/leaders are involved, what questions you ask, etc.

It’s like you’re jumping off a really tall cliff and trying to build an airplane on the way down.

If you thought about it, there are probably a number of ministry areas that you…

  • don’t have clear-cut processes for…
  • and so you make it up as you go…
  • and do it differently each time.

Those processes might include…

  • scheduling,
  • music planning,
  • new team member orientation,
  • organizing charts/mp3s,
  • developing leaders,

…just to name a few.

“Building the airplane” (your processes and systems) is part of the work of ministry. But it’s always a little more stressful when you’re heading towards the ground at terminal velocity.

3. Your team is missing a step in the prep process.

You have some team members who come to rehearsal with their songs down—they rock it. But others, not so much.

These latter team members treat the rehearsal as their own personal practice time. And because of that, they don’t musically engage with the rest of the band.

And when are they ready to work out the music together as a team? During the Sunday morning sound check and warm-up.

But that’s when you’re supposed to be just polishing the songs and segues.

As a result, the first service is rough. But things go better in the second service.

And one of those people who treated rehearsal like his own personal practice time inevitably says, “Gosh, it’d be great to do that set one more time. It was really starting to come together.”

I know—you so want to punch him in the forehead. Don’t do it. That would just make this stressful situation even tenser. And probably hurt your hand.

4. You aren’t equipping leaders, you’re enlisting substitutes and assistants.

True leaders working alongside you take ownership—they share the burden and give you encouragement.

But too many worship leaders treat their potential leaders as assistants(people who just help with the tasks of ministry) or substitutes (they’re “fill-ins” when the “real” leader is gone).

Equipping leaders is hard, but leading with the stress of only having assistants and substitutes is harder.

5. Your written values don’t match your real values.

You probably have some sort of document that states your values and/or expectations of being a part of worship ministry. You might even have a covenant or agreement that all your members sign when they join the team. And that’s good.

But when you look around, reality doesn’t match that document—in lots of areas…

  • practice habits,
  • team member relationships,
  • commitment levels,
  • the desire for spiritual growth,
  • the drive to grow musically,

…and so on.

The current culture of your team doesn’t match the desired culture of your dreams. And that’s stressful.

You see the potential in your team to be amazing. But they keep settling for just average.

They’re OK with being OK.

So What Now?

If you want help…

  • Getting out of that weekly crazy-cycle…
  • Building efficient systems (and stop building the airplane on the way down)…
  • Training your team to value preparation (and show up to rehearsal with their music learned)…
  • Equipping leaders (instead of enlisting substitutes and assistants)…
  • Transforming your culture so your written values match your real values…

Then let’s talk…

Schedule a 15-Minute Exceptional Sunday Assessment

Whenever I’m helping worship leaders level-up their worship ministry, I find we get the best results when we focus on 3 areas:

  • Developing your team members so they’re equipped to serve on Sunday mornings — both as skilled musicians and lead worshipers (expressiveness / engagement).
  • Growing your own leadership skills and developing the leaders around you, so you can multiply yourself.
  • And then getting the demanding Sunday work done in less time, so that you can focus on your biggest priorities (and passion areas you probably haven’t had time for).

If we get these three areas working, your team will deliver awesome Sundays, but without you getting burned out.

We start with a quick 15-minute chat about how I can do that for you — where we’ll create a simple roadmap for how you can grow over the next 3, 6, or 12 months.

I call this our Exceptional Sunday Assessment. It helps both of us to know whether this coaching group is a good fit for you right now.

And if it isn’t, you’ll still get a ton of value from the call.

Here’s where you can sign up.

By the way, it’s amazingly helpful to invite your senior pastor to be on the call.

When the lead pastor gets a vision for what’s possible for the church’s music and worship, they support and back the changes you want to make BIG TIME.

Sign up for a free assessment today.

Right now, you can get the digital version of Exceptional Every Sunday: Build a Worship Team That’s Consistently Excellent Week after Week (No Matter Who’s on the Platform) for a low-low price. And, you get bonus bundle of trainings and tools to help you implement it quicker.

Get Exceptional Every Sunday here.


Jon Nicol