Confessions of a Workaholic

This week, I did the unthinkable. I postponed 2 projects and took a few days off.

Hi. My name is Mike. And I'm a workaholic. I would say a recovering workaholic, but  just as quickly as I think I'm "recovering," I'm back at it again. And don't look at me with that "I can quit anytime" look on your face. Sure you can. That's what I keep saying. Let's not fool each other--we're techies, we're driven, we work too hard.

  1. Not sure if you qualify? Consider these questions:
  2. Do you feel guilty if you put in "only" 45 hours a week?
  3. Have you worked more than 50 of the last 52 weekends?
  4. Do you remember the last time you took a few days off?
  5. Do you secretly feel the rest of the staff doesn't work as hard as you do?

Come on, you know what I'm talking about. It's pretty rare that I meet a church techie that doesn't currently (or hasn't recently) feel near the edge of burnout. And that's a dang shame. I would argue that our rate of effectiveness is inversely proportional to how much overtime we work. Sure, we may get more "done," but I don't think we're more effective. I find that when I'm working 55-60+ hours a week, I start neglecting my volunteer staff, I don't take time to just sit and think and be creative, and I don't have time to take in any input. My soul starts to dry up and I slowly stop caring about what I'm doing.

Think about it: God took a day off and rested. Now, I'm pretty sure God didn't actually need to take a day off. Yet, He did. The challenge for us is that we work on the day most people consider the Sabbath. So even when we take our day off during the week, it's not really a day off.

Worse, some churches think that because we "only" from 1-7 on Saturday and from 6-1 on Sunday, we really don't need another day off. Time to re-think that plan. Too many church techies leave a church after a few years because they're just plain tired. I know… I've been there. At my last job, I was working 55-60 hours a week, pretty much every week. I didn't take a day off for 8 months. I was ready to quit. Here's what I learned.

We need to take time off to refresh our souls. When we work constantly, we drift into a "git 'r done" mode. We stop really caring about creating engaging worship experiences and focus strictly on hitting our cues. Eventually others pick up on that, and they follow suit. The whole team, and gathering, suffers. I find the longer I work, the less innovative and creative I am, and even having one extra day off can be enough to jump-start the creative process again.

We need to be reminded that it's not about me and how hard I work. It's about working in rhythm with Jesus and letting Him move in and through us. We need to be more about being led than about dropping our shoulder and pressing on.

We need to be in this for the long haul. I've seen surveys that indicate that it costs a company as much as $30,000 when an employee leaves. The cost to a church is far greater. When technical team leadership turns over every few years, the volunteers pay a steep price. Many of them become discouraged and quit--and that's a loss we can't sustain.

I've said this before and I'll say it again; as a church techie, you'll never get caught up. So relax! Take some time off. Get outside, breathe some fresh air. Read a book, listen to music, watch a movie. But whatever you do, don't feel guilty! You deserve the time, you really do.