Jesus died for the church: you don't have to!

by John Allegar

Jesus died for the don’t have to!

In 2009, I came across an article on CNN’s website titled “Stressful jobs that pay badly”. The position of Church Music Director was included in these findings, and a whopping 2/3 of music directors that were a part of this sample felt their job was quite stressful. Other occupations included parole officers, curators and—you guessed it—ministers. When I read this article, I was beginning a doctoral degree in organ, and it definitely gave me cause for pause and concern. My concern, of course, was not about the money. The question running through my head was this: Why take more classes and lessons to end up in a stressful work environment?

When I took my first full-time job as an Organist and Assistant Director this summer, I had the chance to discern new habits and rhythms that worked for me. Here are a few:

  • Upon arrival at the church I go straight to the organ or piano. This ensures daily practice time and serves as a reminder of my calling before the day gets hectic.
  • Alternating my days off. Like many, Monday is my official day off; I have found that a half day on Monday and a half day on Friday often works better depending on the tasks that week.
  • Embracing my Meyers-Briggs. (Take the test if you haven’t yet!) I am an INFJ—the I (introverted) aspect means, among other things, that I gain energy from being alone. I used to consider this an issue with my personality, but am now able to use it to restructure my work (for example, practicing or studying scores before a large meeting)
  • Hiring a personal trainer. It is expensive, but also some of the best money I have ever spent. It puts a new slant on the day and has made me a better worker.
  • Letting my habits and rhythms be somewhat flexible.

Like nearly all church musicians, part of my job is administrative, and I have to remind myself that the core of it is musical. This has been the biggest struggle in my new position—to create that balance between administrative and musical tasks. For me, it is closely tied to my work/life balance. Paul Westermeyer speaks eloquently to this:

...the paper blizzard has to be attended to; and the machinery has to be kept oiled...Our society has a way of turning everything into administration, as if it were an end in itself. It is not. The cantor is the musical servant of the servants of God and has important things like music to attend to.” --The Church Musician, 100. Augsburg Fortress 1997.

Even the best-oiled machinery needs a check-up every now and again. My prayer is for us all to have a few moments to find a renewed sense of balance and purpose as we seek to praise God with and through music.

Jesus died for the Church...may we live more fully.

Posted on Jan 14, 2013 6:53:55 AM
Filed Under: Potpourri, Filed Under: review-prelude,

John Allegar

Written by John Allegar

John Allegar is the Organist and Assistant Director of Music and Fine Arts at Second Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis. He is currently finishing his DMA at the Eastman School of Music, where he has been a student of David Higgs and William Porter. He holds degrees from Yale University, under the tutelage of Martin Jean and Jeffrey Brillhart, and Valparaiso University, under Karel Paukert and Lorraine Brugh.