This is a follow-up to last week’s post.  If you haven’t read it, click here and take a minute to read it first.  You won’t miss anything, I promise.

Here’s the quick, non-whiny version of why I got out of music directing, and I’ll apply my own principles to it.

The reason I told/tell everyone is that I got sick of working six days a week and every weekend.   That’s true, but that’s not the whole deal.

After eleven years of it, I was getting bored.  I had pretty much played out all my musical ideas, and wanted to do something new.  I approached the powers-that-be about writing a Christmas musical, which, if it succeeded, I hoped would move me out of music directing and into more creative endeavors.  I saw myself writing dramas (which I’d done successfully for several years), working on original material for holiday presentations, and keeping a toe in the music department.  I ran this past my boss, who answered to the pastor, and both of them said yeah—go ahead and write it.

Christmas was a Sunday that year, and I’d conceived the thing as a twenty-five to thirty minute presentation—a mix of video and music.  This would keep our volunteer need to a minimum (always a consideration at Christmas time), it would be a middle-sized project for my first attempt, and it would be consistent with the Christmas Eve services we’d done in the past, at least as far as length went.

In June I presented the idea, and they liked it.  Except…except that a few weeks later, in a meeting which I didn’t attend, a committee decided that what we needed was a full-blown Christmas Extravaganza.  A two hour full-court press.  A  musical with song and dance and original tunes, presented over four weeknights.   Lights, sound, full band, ticket sales, months of rehearsal–all for MY production.

Here, my friends, is where I went wrong:  I said yes.

I said yes because I saw the church as a way to live my life the way I wanted, to do the things I loved, and to get paid for it.  In other words, I wanted the church to provide me with my dream job.  I convinced myself that it was the best thing for the church, and that, well, any fool could see it.  And if they didn’t, I’d show them.

I spent evenings and weekends all summer and all fall writing that thing.  Seven or eight original songs and an entire storyline to go with it, dialogue, the whole deal.  Seven or eight speaking parts, a live band, a choir…

I bit hard on the opportunity.  When I got done, they’d owe me. 

We pulled it off.  It was a long, exhausting season, from September rehearsals until Christmas week, but I thought it went well.  I wrote all the arrangements for the band and vocals, and recorded background tracks to go along with the live band.  I played in the band, and came to some of the acting rehearsals as well.  I completely threw myself into it.  When it was done I was tired but euphoric–I’d done it!

Two weeks into January I asked my boss if we could now start talking about how to change my job.

“Are you serious?  We don’t have the budget for that.  Besides, I need you in the music department.  We have a big, big spring season coming up, and we have work to do.  I’d advise you not to even talk to the pastor about it.”

I became disillusioned, and a couple months later I gave them my notice.   I blamed them.  What I didn’t see was this:

My motivation for wanting to change my job around was selfish—it was best for me

It made me happy.  I made up a direction for the Arts Department, and then got mad when they didn’t go along with it.

In short, I didn’t know why I was doing the job.

I thought I was doing the job for lofty motives, but when I couldn’t get my way, I cried foul.

Here’s what I should have done:

I should have told myself the truth about being burned out on the job, then gone to the management and laid it out.  Because being dissatisfied with the job was my problem–not theirs.  Instead I tried to muscle the situation by writing the big musical and forcing their hand.   It was a little dysfunctional all around, and they probably could have handled it better too, but that’s not the point.  I could have completely circumvented the hard feelings and saved myself a lot of trouble, by just telling myself the truth.   And it turns out, all these years later, that they’re just fine without me!  Go figure.

So how’s it going with your situation?  Back to my initial question:

Why are you doing this?

You need to know.

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