CNN posted a survey listing the top 15 Stressful Jobs that Pay Badly. Number 5 on the list was none other than “Music Ministry Director”. I confess that I laughed out loud when I saw that! I certainly can relate to the high stress that can be involved in the position and yet that is only one side of the story. On most Sunday mornings, once the service had begun I would be pinching myself to see if it was real! There was nothing I’d rather be doing! When you get to work in a healthy team and you are encouraging your friends to worship God with all of their passion and creativity there really is nothing like it.
I have a few reactions to the article. First off, Dan Fenn, the music director who is quoted in the article… I wonder how his parishioners feel about him appearing on CNN’s website slagging his job? Might they be tempted to liberate him so that he can pursue a better gig?
Secondly, the example of stress that Dan cites – being asked to play “Beer Barrel Polka” at a funeral, doesn’t seem all that stressful to me. Whenever stress had me to teetering on the brink of the abyss it wasn’t over silly things like that.
Well, these things just didn’t add up to me, so through magic of the internet I tracked down Dan and asked him about CNN’s piece. He told me he was quite disappointed when with it. When he was interviewed the reporter told him it was for a piece about “surprisingly stressful jobs” – nothing about pay. He also said that none of the things that he loves about his job made it into the article. And the story about “Beer Barrel Polka” was just a funny story that he told the reporter, rather than an example of the high stress situations he might find himself in. Dan also lamented that the article left out any sense of the calling that motivates him in his ministry. My experience as a worship pastor has had its share of stress, but I felt called to it, and still do. And the rewards of living out your calling far outweigh the challenges that we face!
And a final note: Dan says that he did play “Beer Barrel Polka” at the funeral but disguised the melody in an abstract French-tocatta organ improvisation. Yeah.. that’s what I would’ve done too!