Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pardon my plank. . .but YOU have something in YOUR eye.

Day 15:  Lots and lots and lots of lots of leg work.  Eek.  

I have always tried to make this my most honest thoughts and musings.  

Sometimes important, sometimes trivial, but always exactly what I'm thinking about. 

So, I'm about to get honest.  

But, before I unleash something that may or may not be of importance to you, please know that when I use the words "you," "people," "they," or "folks" I could and should easily insert "Amanda" into the sentence.  But, at this very minutes, I'm putting the plank in my eye down so I can pick specks (Matthew 7:3--a personal favorite). 

Secondly, this is not just at our current church.  This stuff happens at a lot of places to a lot of people.  

I am sick to death of people promising to do something, anything, and failing to follow through.  I can think of at least 5 people who this very week promised to do something for me or Chris and I have not seen or heard from them.  It's so annoying!  I get more upset when people promise to do something for Chris and then they don't follow through.  In their minds it's fine and dandy if they don't do whatever it is that they were supposed to do because, well, frankly, they were just volunteering.  No one's paying them, they aren't legally or contractually committed, and it's not like one person makes that big of a difference anyway, right?!?!  

WRONG.  

My husband's ministry depends on people stepping up and making the children in our church a priority.  Chris cannot teach 200+ children, train volunteers, purchase supplies, clean rooms, set up for activities/events, counsel with families, communicate, meet children--oh yeah, and maybe get to go to church once in a while (what's that?) by himself.  He depends on his volunteers to assist him and be there when they say they will.  

Now, before I completely lose my cool, I would like to say that this church has some incredible, awesome, and gifted people who will bend over backwards to assist him.  I have met some of my favorite friends at our church, and I can't say enough about their commitment to our family in addition to the needs of the church.  

This week has been something else.  It's become apparent that some people do not recognize the level of commitment they were needed this week.  Chris has a good attitude, but I'm the one who gets upset.  He always says, "It's just people's priorities."  And he's right.  Some people are ministry committed when it's good for them.  Or when THEY receive recognition.  Or when they will get something out of it.  Or if it's the only good thing going on.  Or if something else doesn't come up.  

What people fail to realize is that when things turn sour, or when volunteers just don't show up (and don't call or make an effort to communicate) CHRIS is the one who eats it.  CHRIS is the one who gets called out.  CHRIS is the one who deals with the annoyed parents when sweet Suzy doesn't have a teacher/craft/lesson/snack.  

And, my husband, bless his good heart, does his very best to let it come back to him.  

Because, ultimately, it does come back on him.  

It is, after all, his job.  

I 100% get that.  

If for some reason bulletins, announcements, posters, phone calls, Facebook messages, post cards, and/or emails don't work, then it's HIS job to make sure people are getting the news.  And it is, but sometimes I think people refuse to take any responsibility for themselves.  

And, that, my friends, is a problem in most ministries.  

Sometimes, unless you take people by the hand and say, "Hello Suzy's Mommy, we know you like having sweet Suzy in a class on Sunday morning so you can have a break during church (oh yeah, that's a real comment but the name(s)--as in more than one--have been changed to protect the guilty), but unless you and other mommies step it up and take the initiative to work at least ONE WEEK out of the year, maybe even 2? in the children's ministry, we won't be able to offer anything for Suzy, and you'll lose your precious break.  

Additionally, Chris (and the other staff members) wouldn't DARE to go to YOUR jobs without YOUR DEGREES and offer unsolicited advice as how to properly do something.  But, that's just me.  Imagine if I walked into your office and started blowing you out about things I thought I knew about (but really didn't) and you had to deal with the aftermath of embarassment and accusing eyes.  

I don't understand this gimme gimme gimme generation we've become!

We have lost all sight of what it valuable and important.  It's almost like we EXPECT the church to inject us with our weekly dose of Jesus and we don't want to be bothered with the rest of it.  Give me a little Jesus to get me through until next Sunday (or my next break), and I'll be fine.  I don't want to get dirt on my best jeans (because, quite honestly, who even dresses up for church anymore??), so I can't help you all in the back/kitchen/cleaning up.  I mean, will people eventually begin holding the church accountable if they choose not to accept Jesus and their Lord and Savior because the church didn't Twitter them to remind them to listen to the sermon and answer the invitation?!?  I recognize that this may sound extreme, but goodness it seems to become closer and closer to that all of the time.  

And honestly, GIVE ME A BREAK about your perfect lives.  

GET OVER YOURSELVES!  Guess what! 

I sin. 

You sin. 

We sin.  

And our sin shows sometimes, and it's uncomfortable, and it's not fun to show our weaknesses.  
Why, oh why, can't we lay it out there?  

Why do we feel confined to our bodies and refuse to let others in?   

Isn't the church supposed to be a place where we can love and pray for each other? 

Isn't the church supposed to be a place where I can be 100% honest with myself?  

If I can't be me at the foot of the cross--or in front of the church--or with you, my fellow believers, then where am I supposed to do this?  

Some friends and I have been talking about personal struggles (look everyone, there's my plank--not ready to 100% share my personal struggles with you all--oh what the heck:  anxiety, postpartum depression, post traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, medication that kept me from the funny farm, how that negatively affected my marriage and family, and terrible ORDINARY thoughts just to name a few. . .)and  how scary it is to admit them OUT LOUD because heaven forbid that people might use it against you.  

AT CHURCH!  

What is wrong with all of us?  You know what, go ahead and talk about me.  I'm human.  I'm a forgiven human who loves Jesus like crazy, but I'm a HUMAN and I'm going to mess up.  And you're going to mess up.  And we're all going to mess up, but you know what? It's real life.  

Seriously, unless you can be real with me, I have no use for you.  

I don't want 50% of you, I'd rather know nothing at all if you aren't going to be honest with me.  
If nothing else, it makes me feel better to know that I'm not the only one with issues.  :)

And I wish people would recognize how much their words can hurt.  I have had the most hurtful and insensitive things said to me and/or my husband come out of the mouths of people and friends at church.  It's almost like they OWN us because they go to church there, and that THEIR needs are above everyone else's in the church.  I can't believe how hateful people can be--even people who are in our close circle.  Or, they think because it's church we can treat each other like crap and then be forgiven later (or maybe just forgotten), because, well, Christ died on the cross, right? (insert your favorite Sunday Schoolism here) 

Sometimes I feel like the maid in the house who raised the children, loved the children, and became part of the family--only to be slapped and reminded that I/we merely WORK for them.  Like a second class citizen.   

So, please just remember what you say before you blow up on Sunday because things aren't quite the way you would have done them.  Or before you mouth off behind our backs (foolishly believing that it will never get back to me or Chris or the other volunteers--because BELIEVE ME there are people that are more than HAPPY to spread the crap about anyone in any church.  GASP!) about something that you didn't like (but also didn't volunteer to assist).  Please remember when you begin to snap at the greeter/teacher/helper that they are people just like you doing whatever they can for the Kingdom.  

Jesus, in all of His infinite power, didn't entertain the superstars who did everything well--no, He picked regular Joes who were just willing.  He could have given them the power to be excellent at whatever they did, but instead, He took what they had and made GREAT things out of their willingness to serve.  We can't all be artists, singers, teachers, cooks, greeters, writers--but we can find one thing that we are good at, and give it all to Him.  Imagine the possibilities and blessing if everyone in the church found the ONE THING they were spectacular at and gave it back to God.  We wouldn't have people serving out of their areas of expertise to fill in the gaps.  We would have the BEST people in the PERFECT places.  Our church would explode.  We would be able to do so much more.  

Goodness gracious I love these people I have been blessed to work and worship sweet Jesus with.  I do.  

I have fallen in love with these families and their children (and those without children who just are awesome enough to be around).  

Ministry is THE MOST REWARDING job in the world.  

It also hurts the most.  

But, oh, the rewards are eternal, aren't they?  And that, my friends, is why we stick this thing out:

Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV

 28 Do you not know? 
       Have you not heard? 
       The LORD is the everlasting God, 
       the Creator of the ends of the earth. 
       He will not grow tired or weary, 
       and his understanding no one can fathom.

 29 He gives strength to the weary 
       and increases the power of the weak.

 30 Even youths grow tired and weary, 
       and young men stumble and fall;

31 but those who hope in the LORD 

       will renew their strength. 
       They will soar on wings like eagles; 
       they will run and not grow weary, 
       they will walk and not be faint.

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