When I started working in the entertainment business it wasn’t long before I was getting all kinds of crazy opportunities to travel, see the world, and learn to develop production skills from some of the best people on the planet. All that time I never gave a second thought to any kind of personal boundaries or limits. I prided myself on being the guy who was ready to rock on to another adventure day or night. Passport-current, Amex-ready, bag packed, ready for that next big phone call—let’s do this! Mind you, I’m not knocking this kind of lifestyle. I’ve taken part in some awesome moments and it’s definitely allowed me to gain some experiences I might not have had otherwise but I’ve been going at this same pace for almost 28 years. 28 years of that 24/7 mindset is hard to lay back from. But I’m a little older now, maybe a bit wiser, and, well, maybe I’ve just quit caring as much about the adrenaline rush like when I was 20. Finding a way to keep some balance in my life seems to be a much more worthy quest.
Like many other Technical Directors, there is a certain expectation for me to have the right answer, a reliable plan, or a quick strategy or advisement at any time. I’m sure we can all admit that while it does feel great to be esteemed in this way, it’s amazing how fast you can lose sight of boundaries that should be kept sacred. It’s taken me a while to admit this, but the most precious boundary I have is the one protecting my time…and it’s the one I blow through the most. Although I’ve never once been admonished for doing a great job, perhaps I should have been if anyone truly knew exactly what a job or task was costing me on a personal level.
So here I am getting closer to my mid-40’s and discovering that I’ve cultivated an expectation from almost everyone around me that I’m the 24/7-get-it-done guy. But how can I let that go and avoid letting the whole team down? I have no doubt that my peers and coworkers want nothing but the best for me but they are trusting me to behave professionally and be realistic on my limits. Will they think I’ve misled them all by suddenly leaving at 5:00P? Will the Senior Pastor think he’s not getting what the church is paying for? What will happen if I sleep more? Will our production quality spiral out of control? Nonsense—if I’m running on empty most of the time because I don’t have the discipline to set some limits for myself, I’m letting down the team because it prevents me from bringing my best to the table. It keeps me from being the kind of leader I need to be, keeps me from solving problems as effectively, and definitely affects my creativity.
Even though I’m surrounded by a great team of motivated and quite capable comrades, I’ve always put it on myself to be the one working the most hours or contributing the most brain energy toward the tasks at hand. Has anyone asked me to do this? Negatory. Is the staff doing a bad job and I have to hold their hands? Rarely if ever. Or maybe I’m just trying to be a hero? A martyr? A scapegoat? Even though achieving high quality requires a high level of control, the quality we achieve as a team hasn’t diminished at all as I’ve pulled back to get my boundaries back in line.
The power to establish healthy boundaries in our lives is completely up to us. We can protect our personal time and still serve the church—it CAN work. As I’ve been slowly reigning in my time and getting back to taking an actual off day (or even two in a row—believe it!), things have been maintaining and, dare I say, progressing, quite well. Like many other churches, the schedule and pace at our church is somewhat daunting but even while I’ve been lying back and not spending every waking minute at work, our production load has increased almost 400% from when I first started almost 14 years ago.
You may have accurately concluded that I am a slow learner. Maybe—but I assure you I’m not the only one out there in a similar position who has struggled with finding this proper balance. Even though I feel like somewhat of a veteran of the music and production business, I’m sure I’ll always have to work on keeping a consistent boundary on my time. God has put me here to serve this church and to serve others with my talents and skills and I am encouraged that for the first time in many years, setting some basic boundaries has allowed me to get a life.