Creative Productivity Tips for Worship Leaders

Russ Hutto encourages worship leaders to be intentially productive.

Worship leaders, have you ever had someone asked you what it is you spend your time doing all week? Here are some of the guesses that I’ve experienced over the years:

  • “You get paid to sit around and listen to music, that must be nice!”
  • “You’re on staff? You mean they pay you to sing?”
  • “I bet all you do is sit around and play the piano all week, right?”
  • “Why do you even need a desk? Isn’t your job description fulfilled with a guitar or piano?”

There have been many more. Of course, nobody means to be underhanded when they are trying to figure out just what it is that we as worship leaders actually get paid to do (at least I don’t think they do). And at times, it can be hard to simply explain what it is that we do for our churches.

But here’s the bottom line: if we are privileged to be compensated by our churches for the service that we provide, then we should at the very least be as intentional as we can about also being productive in our efforts.

Granted, God isn’t concerned with our time sheets as much as our supervisors may be, but what God IS concerned with is HIS KINGDOM. And we get to be a participant in reflecting God’s glory here on this earth. The practical manifestation of that sometimes includes our “work.”

So here are some thoughts and tips on being PRODUCTIVE while also being a creative soul.

1) Myth: I’m a creative so systems and processes don’t work for me.

Let’s get this one straight right off the bat. There is no such person in the world who doesn’t benefit from being intentional about time. People who use creativity as an excuse to be lazy, thoughtless, and careless do not serve well. Oh, they might sing or play well, but they do not serve well. This does not mean that every second of your day needs to be structured or logged, but as a creative you actually NEED more structure than you might think you do.

Embrace the processes. Embrace the systems. They are like guard rails on a high mountain road. As creatives we have a tendency to speed through life, allowing inspiration and art to carry us recklessly along the road. Guard rails will keep you from plunging to a fiery crash! Systems and processes will allow you to move through your creative bursts with intention and purpose.

Find a system that allows you to rest and work in a rhythm. Look for daily and weekly disciplines that you can incorporate into your life. Disciplines lead to habits. Habits lead to routine. Routine leads to rhythm. You want your LIFE to be a rhythm. Just like your heart beats in rhythm, without you having to tell it to, our lives should also flow in rhythm as well.

2) Rest well.

Rest – it’s not a word we throw around a lot when we start talking about productivity, but it is a very important word to keep at the forefront of our life rhythms. You will not reach your potential creatively and/or productively if you are not resting well.

This starts with sleep. Regardless of how you feel about burning both ends of the candle, there is no scenario in which constantly NOT sleeping is good for you. Productivity and creativity reach their full potential when you are rested well.

God created Adam on the sixth day and then the very first full day that Adam experienced was the seventh day on which GOD RESTED. The creator of the universe kicks off mankind’s rhythms by starting us off with a day of rest.

Often, we get this rhythm backwards and we work, work, work until we crash. I believe a better pattern is to rest and then to work. Charge the batteries FIRST, and then work from that charge. A crash is not resting well.

Here are some tips for resting well:

  • Be intentional about your sleep.
  • Sleep in a cool, very dark room.
  • Eliminate electronic devices (laptops, smart phones, tablets, tv screens) from your bedroom at bedtime.
  • Early to bed early to rise.
  • If you feel the need to be productive when it’s dark outside, do it before the sun comes up. Go to bed early and wake up earlier.

3) Identify and knock out your big tasks first thing.

Whether or not you’re a to-do list person is not really the issue. The issue is that you prioritize and complete important tasks. How you actually do that is up to you. But you should make a point to identify 1-2 MUST-DOs for each day, and then spend the first part of your work hours doing that thing. The other things will fall into place.

In my own personal process, I don’t check email until I’ve worked at least 1-2 hours on my big things for the day. Some days, that actually does include email, but I’m not writing and replying to emails until I finished my big tasks.

Continue reading.


Essential reading for worship leaders since 2002.


Get the latest worship news, ideas and a list

of the top CCLI songs delivered every Tuesday... for FREE!