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The Heart Behind The Hustle

The Heart Behind The Hustle

By Meagan Newell on March 17, 2017

Ladies and gentlemen, fellow worship leaders, pastors, and the like…

There is a looming presence beckoning our attention as we ease our way into the Spring season. For some, it comes as a friend, a welcome celebration of life, family, and chocolate-coated vermin.

For others, this presence bodes agony, tension, and the undeniable stench of livestock threatening carpeted aisles. (Yes. We see you Passion Play preachers and your hosanna palm donkey entrance. We love you most.)

That’s right. EASTER is around the corner, and we know you feel it in all its weight and glory.

As worship leaders, it is our job to pave the way, to set up hearts for reception and change. Easter is a time to take chances and make risky musical choices. It’s a time when many non-churchgoers feel compelled to tradition and embrace the Sunday morning as it was originally intended. Lives are changed in donkey entrances and 8-part harmonies. At least, that seems to be the pressure we place on ourselves.

We plan sets, structure messages, and build light cues months in advance, creating an atmosphere of complete and total intentionality.

However, sometimes, in the midst of all the Easter hustle, we lose the Easter heart.

During this hectic season, we tend to see things through worship service blinders. High expectations have been placed upon us, and our focus becomes living up to that standard. While there is nothing wrong with preparing and executing a pristine worship service, sometimes we miss what’s beyond our blinders’ view.

You see, Easter is a time of celebration. It’s a time of reflection and appreciation for Christ’s atonement. Easter is a recognition of Jesus’ love, grace, and freedom. Yet, so often in this season we find ourselves burdened, overstressed, and exhausted. When we are vulnerable in this way, we tend to lose perspective and turn all focus inward.

Because of this hustled heart, we risk dishonoring those who honor us through this process: our volunteers.

Without volunteers, Easter service would be an impossible feat. We all know this. The value they offer, the time they spend, the sacrifices they make all reflect the beauty of this holiday.

So in the midst of the hustle and bustle, how can we show them their worth? How can we take our eyes off our task list for a moment? How can we come beside them and gift them with encouragement? How can we create an environment that honors those who give their time for Kingdom work? Let’s dig in…


You’ve planned the light cue for the closing crescendo of “Arise My Love,” as well as every color coordination for choir members. Bless it. The Planning Center has been updated to a state of perfection, not a single detail misplaced. Well done! We rejoice in your details! Now, what do you plan on feeding the 20 band members, worship leaders, and 75 count children’s choir you promised could sing the special? Ah yes, details.

To honor our volunteers is to plan ahead. Make a list, be practical and anticipate the needs of the Easter Sunday. Will you need to provide food? Where will the volunteers’ green room be held? Have you properly and frequently communicated with all members of your team? Have you delegated tasks to team members who have giftings in areas you are weak? (THERE’S A TIP.) Are volunteers aware of rehearsal times in advance? Have you discussed Easter dress code?

These are simple questions, and we are sure you’ve already covered these details, however it is important to make sure you prepare the systems prior to the day so your focus can be on loving them well, and blessing your church.

Another way to plan ahead is prayer. This can seem like an obvious one, however with volunteers in mind, it is extremely overlooked. We pray over the setlist and day of harvest. But do we go through our list of volunteers one by one and call them out by name? Do we take the time to lift up each individual and pray over their role on Easter Sunday? Our job as worship leaders sometimes lies in intercession for our worship family. Make sure you don’t miss an opportunity to pray over those the Lord’s entrusted to you.

How about honoring your worship volunteers with a small gift of appreciation? This is an amazing and simple way of showing you care and see their involvement. Whether it be a handwritten note, or even a gift card to an ice cream shop, a small token can move mountains when it comes to honor. Begin thinking of things you can do to bless your team.


You’ve planned ahead, you have the details covered. You’ve delegated tasks and found thoughtful ways to show your volunteers you care. Now is the time to start stopping, looking, and listening.

As you walk through long nights of rehearsal and multiple email threads, it’s important to open your eyes to the family in front of you. Our view can get cloudy as the stress rises, so it’s vital to remain intentional as the process of Easter service begins.

If a volunteer has an idea, a thought, a recommendation, don’t dismiss it. Appreciate the feedback, stop and listen to the heart behind the conversation. Look around every once in awhile and find those that might reside on the outskirts, those that may be new to the team or simply not as plugged in. Keep your heart prepared for these moments. Be actively looking for places to serve your team and bless their experience in the midst of the hustle.


This one might be negated due to service timing and/or pastoral direction, but if possible, do your best to involve volunteer families in the Easter preparations. Create an event that honors those who give up their spouse, children, or sibling for the Kingdom that week.

Have an “after party celebration” for the team, a time to decompress and enjoy each other post-service. Allow the family to be present for rehearsals or enjoy a meal with the team between services. Remember, Easter is a family-centered holiday, so do your best to find ways to honor that time spent.


So the soloist forgot her lyric, or the keys player spilled his morning brew all over the cherry red Rhodes. Mistakes, spills, nerves, there is no escaping these little inevitables. Things are going to happen, people are going to be people. Early mornings and long days provide a variety of personality disorders. Close quarters and high stakes tend to bring out the “bless their hearts” in all of us.

As a worship leader, our job is to take on these little moments of joy and move forward with an attitude of grace. Someone talks about you in a negative light? Grace. The mic batteries aren’t freshly changed? Grace. The food is cold because it was set out at the wrong time? GRACE.

Easter is literally the STORY of grace, so let’s take a cue from our blessed Savior and walk through this day in a spirit of love and laughter. Make the experience a joy for everyone you encounter.


In the midst of the hustle, DO NOT LOSE THE HEART. Why are we breaking our necks for this one day? Why do we place so much pressure on this service? The why behind the what is simple. Salvation. Grace. Love. Truth. All of these things are emphasized during the Easter season, and the Gospel story is typically told in a way that refreshes and revives.

Worship leaders lead this charge of joy and celebration. We take that baton and run the race with passion and enthusiasm. Are we communicating this passion to our teams? Are we passing this baton, or are we attempting to run this “why” alone?

Take time prior, during, after the Easter service to bombard your team with the reason behind this season. Paint the picture, help them to catch that vision. Once they do, the details, the grace, the exhaustion, it all becomes understood. It all becomes a welcome part of the process, because no longer are songs simply being sung. Battles are being WON.

Volunteers are a blessing, a rare gift, a blessed star in the midst of what sometimes can feel like a long night. Take care of them. Love them. Show them grace and build them up in ways they never experience outside the church. Make this team a family. If it’s not one already, this could be the start.

Love HARD this Easter season, and remember Who you’ve been called to reflect. Be vulnerable, be real, show passion, bleed for this cause and these people. Make Easter a season of peace and honor. And always remember the heart behind the hustle.

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Meagan Newell

Meagan Newell