I have the privilege to know a lot of technical directors. A lot. One thing I’ve noticed about our tribe is that we tend to be really good at taking care of everyone around us, and not so good at taking care of ourselves. And that can be both a good thing and a bad thing.
On the plus side, we tend to be great servants. Those around us trust us to get the job done no matter what. We typically go the extra two miles, even at great personal sacrifice. This is generally good. However, it can also lead to burnout. I know too many people who gave and gave and gave until there was no more left, then simply left the church, never to return (at least not yet). So we really do need to take care of ourselves if we want to do this for the long haul.
I’ve had this conversation a few times in the past few months, so it occurs to me that it might be beneficial to share some thoughts on taking care of yourself.
Give yourself permission to take time off
I know you. You don’t think you can take time off. I get it. The baseline standard for the tech department is perfection, and if we’re not there every weekend, there is a concern that we won’t achieve our goal. Having done this for 25+ years, here’s what I have learned the hard way: You have to get over it. First of all, your team will step up and do a great job when you’re not there. Second of all, it’s not like nuclear explosions will happen if something goes wrong. Sure, a few people might be inconvenienced and someone might even be mad. But if you don’t take time off, you will burn out and when you leave, it will be ugly. Don’t to it.
Ask your boss to tell you to take time off.
I add this because I figure you’re not going to listen to the above advice and take time off on your own. I just told someone the other day that one of the most loving things anyone has ever done for me was kick me out of the office for a few days. I worked for a church some years back, and when I first started, my boss asked how he could lead me well. I told him I tend to be a workaholic and need help taking time off. He listened and would tell me to take some time off every few months if I wasn’t doing it on my own. That re-trained my thinking that it was ok to take time off. I am thankful for him to this day for that.
Have a mentor.
You really need to have someone who you meet with every so often who will remind you that you’re not crazy. What we do is hard, unique and different from any other ministry in church. You need to have someone in your life who will listen to you vent and say, “I get it. You’re not crazy, I’ve been there, too.” This doesn’t have to be a huge formal thing, you don’t need to study books or meet every Thursday at 7 am. But you do need someone that you can call every month or two and have lunch or coffee. I meet with several young guys regularly and have a few people that I meet with, and the only regret I have about this is that I didn’t start doing it when I was younger.
The technical arts is a weird, hard, stressful, exciting, fun and crazy business—even in the church. If you want to do it for the long haul, you have to take care of yourself. Now, go fill out that time off slip…