Volunteering is a tricky business, especially when it comes to resigning. So many times, we get into a volunteer position because we’re willing to jump in and serve (sometimes even without the necessary skills), but then because of our usefulness, the ministry begins to rely upon us.
At times, this is done with joy, and the reward of serving is enough to keep us going. Other times we do it out of duty; we said we would take on a role, so we will keep our word.
But sometimes, seasons shift and the joy of serving in a volunteer position can fade. Or you do such a great job that the requirements and expectations for time and energy grow beyond what you originally signed up for.
How do you recognize the signs that it’s time to resign from the volunteer position you signed up for? And how do you make that exit well, preserving relationships and honoring those around you?
Begin With Why
If you start to feel the drain of serving in a volunteer position, it’s time to do some soul searching. What caused you to start serving in the first place? Why were you willing to give up your finite time and energy to run sound at church? What brought you joy when you started?
Perhaps there was no one to run sound, and you gave it a shot, whether or not you had the skills to begin with. Maybe you saw how things were running and knew you could do a better job and take the team and systems up a notch. Or it’s even possible that someone recruited you, and you found out that you actually liked it!
Another motivating factor could have been that you were inspired by the vision and the mission of the organization. We love being a part of something that’s bigger than ourselves and serving on the sound team is one way many of us do that.
All of these are great reasons to serve as a volunteer. The church gets help accomplishing its mission of making disciples, and you get the internal satisfaction that you’re helping to build the Kingdom of God.
And let’s not forget about treasure in Heaven. God remembers every act of service, even down to handing a kiddo a cup of water. You can bet he’ll remember the time you MacGyvered the sound system to work with a gum wrapper, a paper clip, and some gaff tape.
Recognize What’s Different
After we take stock in what brought us joy at first, we can identify that we’ve lost the spark that excited us before. If you came to the position knowing mostly nothing, the challenge of taking on a new task and learning a new skill may have been more exciting than maintaining and operating the sound system at a consistent level.
Other times the job requirements changed to the point that the actual task isn’t a good fit anymore. Maybe your church started out small with a certain amount of spontaneity and “homey-ness,” but as the church grew, timing constraints from multiple services started to require stricter oversight of cues and transitions to make sure people get in and out on time.
I’m not saying one is better than the other. But if you prefer one system and approach to another, you must be brutally honest about what you like and what brings you joy. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to resign, but it helps to take a proper assessment of the role and how you’re wired to see if you still fit.
At the risk of sounding vain, I’ll say this: musical style is a big deal. It’s OK to resign because the worship team is playing a musical style you don’t prefer or even straight up dislike.
Let’s find an extreme example and see how it holds up. Imagine you get a new worship leader from Bavaria, and they insist on leading from the accordion. They replace the electric bass with a tuba, and every song gets reworked into a Polka style. If that’s what your leadership team has decided is going to connect with your congregation, that’s the style you’re going to mix on the sound board.
You don’t have the liberty to add distortion, tremolo, and chorus effects to the tuba to turn it into dubstep if that’s not what the leadership team wants. You must serve the vision of the leaders above you, or you can choose to serve and worship somewhere else.
And saying you don’t connect with the style is not necessarily vain or immature. If the jump is too large from the styles you like and what connects with the church, you don’t have to do it. And you can say so without fabricating fake spiritual reasons or being grumpy about it.
The one piece of advice for anyone with a family that works or volunteers at a church is this: don’t sacrifice your family on the altar of ministry. After your personal salvation and following Jesus, your first priority is partnering with your spouse and raising your children. (Of course, that includes providing for your family, whether that’s a vocation or making a home.)
If volunteering at church is keeping you from giving those first priorities their proper attention, it’s time to evaluate your commitment level and make a change. When we stand before God at the end of our lives, and the Father asks us to give account for how we spent our time and energy, I believe our spouse and our children will be a much higher priority for Him than how awesome the worship team sounded, or how much money we saved the church by taking on the install project ourselves.
The church will survive a dip in audio quality. Excellence is a great thing. However, as we pursue excellence, we fear that a dip in quality will create chaos in its wake. It can keep us from doing healthy things, like training new people to take over or stepping away for a break.
Whether you’re resigning or stepping back in your commitment level, nothing will explode if the mix doesn’t sound as good as you can make it. (On second thought, it’s wise to set things up so it’s hard for things to explode if you’re not there.) If half the church walks out because the mix isn’t quite as good one week, then they have other problems.
While we’re on the topic, is there a way you can hand off some of the tasks and still stay involved? Training others takes extra energy when we feel like we have none left. But whether or not you resign, someone is going to have to grow into the void that you leave. It may be worth it to dial back your involvement after investing in some others to share the load.
In my next article, I’ll follow up with additional thoughts on this topic.
James Attaway has also joined the Church Sound Podcast as a co-host. Go here to check out recent episodes.