Sunday, March 3, 2013

Friends Don't Let Friends Volunteer...

annetaintor.com

Ministry Tip #4: Learn to Say "No".

Your friendship with God is more important than your ministry.

First, you fell in love with God and then you wanted everyone else to know the same joy and freedom that you have found, so ministry begins in one form or another. This can look as many different ways as there are people; but ministry happens. 

Ministry to others is a good thing. A beautiful thing and an obedient thing.

The tough twist that comes later is that our busy-ness doing His business can slowly begin to creep into our intimate time with Him. You know what I mean don't you? You finally grab a moment to just sit and breath and be still with God.......and the to-do list for the upcoming women's luncheon pops into your mind. Or the notes for the Bible Study need to be copied off, the nursery needs re-organizing, the Fall Retreat is still missing a driver, and the conference next month still needs tweaking! 

You know what I'm saying.

It is understandable for crazy weeks to happen a few times a year. The "Holidays" are notorious for being anything but merry for those in ministry jobs. Sometimes church or ministry organization events cause our lives to slip into chaos-mode for a week or two. I believe that is normal and to be expected. 

BUT......

If we are slipping into a pattern of accepting jobs or responsibilities because "If I don't do it, it won't get done", we are entering a really dangerous place to live. Exhaustion is not pleasing to The Father's heart. It is not. He is more concerned with YOU

As I read Facebook and blogs, I see an almost competitive pride in being super-busy. We list the items we have to get accomplished by the end of the day and compare our stress levels with one another. "To Do" lists and clever planners can be as pretty and decorative as you want, but if your day is jam-packed with activity, it may be time to re-evaluate. 

Within church ministry there has been an under-lying belief that we (the church) need to provide every ministry program possible to the people. If they want it, we feel obligated to make it happen, even if there is no one on the staff or a volunteer who has a passion or desire to lead it. Sadly, this can lead to a pitiful group of teenagers being led by a volunteer who really has no passion or talent for youth-work, in weekly meetings that could be sending the opposite message to your kids than what is desired. 

It is entirely possible that the one who has the gifting to lead your kids will not step forward until there is a space for them. An opening that causes them to look inside and talk to God about it. Randomly filling the space out of panic to fill an "urgent need", can be robbing the right person of that job and ministry. We must learn to say "no" to the need and "yes" to God's urging.

Personally, when I was in the thick of ministry life, I had to learn that my relationship, my friendship, my romance with Jesus is NUMBER ONE. If my time is filled to overflowing with ministry events and planning, I start to sense a hunger that is not being fed. I don't even know what is missing at first! Sometimes it is hard to recognize what is wrong with this picture. Life is good, people are being healed, set free and we are getting it done! But the thought comes..."God, are you there? Hellooo?"

Time to look at priorities. Ask God about your schedule. His credit system may be totally opposite to yours. He loves YOU, not what you DO.

Which came first? Who comes first? He loves WHO you are much more than what you DO.

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16 comments:

  1. This reminds me so much of my husband. He always says he feels guilty for not doing more, but I remind him of how many lives he's touched that may not have been touched otherwise, like our employees through out the years, the kids we've adopted, the doctor he meets with every Saturday. He's done the Father's work by just being himself.

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    1. Exactly Teri. There will always be MORE to be done, more people to help, but we can hurt ourselves and our families by jumping into every need we see. Your family are amazing and generous givers. You and your husband are being God's arms and hands in the lives of the people in your "normal" life every day.

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  2. Oh Susie. How I wish I had read something exactly like this several years ago!! I ran myself into the ground, volunteering for everything that came down the pike. I did major damage to my family, my friendships, my health, and most of all to my relationship with God.

    Thank you so much for always being so open, for always speaking truth. I'm going to share this post. Loved the picture you included, too! :)

    Pam M.

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    1. Running ourselves into the ground is so easy to do! It begins by just doing the jobs, committees etc that we enjoy and get pleasure from. But it can quickly escalate into "duty jobs" that wear us out. And others round us can manipulate the volunteer-minded person into doing stuff they should have said "No" to. So hard and so easy. Ha!
      Thanks for reading and commenting Pam, I feel honored!

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  3. Oh this is so tough to keep in balance. I remember reading a book by Elizabeth George I think, and she said there are many good things demanding our time, a few better things but a very select best. Choose the best. I think there's a lot of merit to this. Sometime, when people don't step up for a particular ministry, it might be time to just let it go rather than feel pressured into filling the gap. It was very hard for me as a PW to remember that!

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    1. Yes, choosing the best has a lot to do with what makes our hearts sing....not just what the urgent need is. Can be tricky to figure out, thats for sure.

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  4. I remember a book title from when my kids were young and I was in the thick of ministry, called "The Tyranny of the Urgent." Not much about the book has stuck, but that title has kept me from doing things that I would otherwise feel I HAD to do. The older I get, the more I know who I'm meant to be And it's one of the great gifts of the fire of my disability that I have to be still more often than I can DO.
    A good word, Susie.

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    1. Oh yes, I forgot about that great little book! So powerful to me too. I just looked it up, by Charles Hummel, and he begins the book by quoting Jesus in John 17:4 in the prayer He prayed to His Father the night before He died, saying "I have brought you glory on earth by COMPLETING the work you gave me to do."
      but Jesus only ministered for 3 years and there was obviously still much to be done! But Jesus only did what God told him to do, nothing more.
      Even the word "Urgent" can be a red flag. I recall moments on the phone with people in a panic and I would pick up the panic myself and be ready to rush to the rescue. Hubs would help me slow down, ask more questions and we usually found that it would not hurt to wait a day or even a week before jumping into someone's situation. He would find out that the "urgent" person had known about the "emergency" for MONTHS but suddenly decided to call and make it our issue.
      Thanks for reading and commenting friend!

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  5. First, thanks for stopping by my blog today and leaving a comment :) As to this post, well, guilty as charged as I'm sure my PSF Pam will attest to. This year, as I strive for consistency, I've told my ministry team that I will specifically be looking for places where I can step away and allow them to take the lead on things. For 3 years I've been at every event we've done as well as volunteering with several other ministries. I'm learning the art of saying "no", and I believe God is pleased with that. I once heard it said that saying yes to everything is actually a pride issue. While we ask who else will do it?, we're really saying I'm the only one who can...and that's just not true. God can and will rise someone up to do what He needs done and we shouldn't jump into their spot! Thanks for this post :)

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    1. Hi Toni, thanks for coming by! I know that for me it was a pride issue again and again. OY! And a CONTROL issue! I am still terrible at delegation, never did it well at all. It can be very freeing to see that the world (and church) can still live if you don't show up, but it also can hurt a bit. Ha!
      You are very welcome!

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  6. I remember when I was a young pastor's wife that I found myself volunteering (or being volunteered) to do most anything that needed doing...and wondered why none of the older women would volunteer to do it. Now that I am an older woman, I know just how those older women felt..."I've done my share...let the younger women do it"...The only problem with that is the younger women need someone to give THEM a break now and then too. Once in a while a mature woman would come alongside and volunteer to help me with some project that I'd gotten into over my head...or she would take my kids and babysit for me to give me a break...and I loved her so much for it. Yeah, we have to discipline ourselves and not take on more than we can chew...but we also need to watch for opportunities to help lighten the load for an overwhelmed young pastor's wife or other wonderful volunteer, and let them know how much we appreciate them. If more people had done that for me, I might still be "out there", instead of sitting on the sidelines feeling worn out. Just a different perspective for what it's worth.

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    1. I agree Pam. I would hate to see someone left alone to carry more than they can bear. If there is no one to help, that may mean that some portion of the duties need to be let go. I'm sure you know that my point is about doing jobs under pressure from others rather than from God's direction.
      I sometimes wonder why so many churches actually create more work by separating groups in a church. Such as having a Singles Group, a Young Marrieds Group, a Mature Married group, why divide everyone when they could be doing things together and forming organic mentoring relationships and learning from one another?
      I don't feel worn out, I feel like a lot of energy was spent running in circles that did not accomplish much. The drama in a lot of churches may stem from over-worked people who feel like all they do is give and give without being rewarded. When they should have been doing it to please God and for the joy of it. Now off I go into another pet peeve. Ha!

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  7. Hey...real quick...just stopping by to tell you about an award for you. Stop by my site: http://mlswift.me/2013/03/05/on-awards-and-following-and-things-of-that-nature/

    GREAT post. Something that I had to put into practice, at least for the time being.

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  8. Excellent! If we volunteer from guilt, there is no life to what we do. If we volunteer without the Lord's call, we may very well be closing out the opportunity for someone else whom the Lord was calling to it. I love the title!! Thanks for linking this up this week.

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  9. This popped up and might be important to reflect on and share...

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All comments are good comments!

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