It’s been over three years now since I left corporate life to go work at a church. When I look back there are number of things that I knew were going to be different, and yet, there are some things that surprised me. Here are four things that I’d wish I knew before joining a church staff.

1. It’s so easy to go on autopilot.

Here’s the thing. The Sunday to Sunday cycle can be an easy thing to overlook. When you get in that cycle, it saves you from coming up with new ideas or approaches. The routine can be like comfort food. It seems good, but over the long haul it will hurt you. If all you’re doing each Sunday is putting the tape in and hitting play, then you you’re going to have issues.

Think of it this way, when someone hears and sees the same thing day in and day out, it begins to lose its effectiveness over time. In short, people stop paying attention.

In order to prevent this, think about setting aside once a quarter to do some deep thinking about what’s really working and what can be better.

2. You have to redefine your goals.

Every new employee comes in with a set of ideas and goals. However, you have to quickly learn to align your goals with the church’s goals. Now, this is a challenge for some people. Some people often think their church is going to reflect their personal goals. This is not the way it works. The church does not bend for you, you bend for the church.

If you can’t rectify your personal goals with the church’s goals, then you may need to rethink your position at the church. Otherwise, you’ll never really embrace your work and realize your potential.

3. Perfection will never happen.

There are going to be some things you can control and some things you can’t. The idea is not to let the little things get to you. Take a worship video for example. You might think that you have done the best worship video possible. The music, the visuals, everything was on target.

And then you get that one email…

The email that states how you missed this, or they didn’t care for the music. The truth is, there will always be someone who tells you that it could be better. What should you do? Just reply with “thanks for the feedback”, delete it and move on. Unless it something glaring that you need to apologize for, trying to make that one person happy won’t help you in the long run.

Like every organization, your church will it’s critics. However, if want you’re doing aligns with your church’s goals and your leadership has buy-in to what you’re doing, you’ll be fine.

4. The job is 24/7, but you’re not.

This lesson is something I learned along time ago. It involves boundaries and limits. This is going to be a 24/7 job. Sorry guys, but it is.

My grandfather was a worship minister and watch him deal with this tension. Every Sunday afternoon he refused to answer the phone once he got home from church. Why? Because he knew that he needed to decompress, and the chance that the phone call on the other end of line being an emergency was pretty slim.

Boundaries are essential to ministry. So learn to say the word “no”. There is going to come a time and place where you will have to say no to someone or something. For some of us that’s really difficult. You may need to work on it, but regardless it’s something you have learn to do to save your sanity.

These four things aren’t exclusive to church’s, but I found them to more prevalent in the church environment versus the corporate world. It’s not to say that one is better than the other, but it does mean that you need to proceed with caution as you think about working at a church.