The Internet can be an amazing place. I was reading another blog from a writer who lives halfway around the world the other day which stopped me short. I try to read as much as I can because I feel like it makes me a better writer. Anyway, back to this blogger. He spoke of a situation he had encountered in his own country which was really bad. What he wrote to start with would be something you and I would consider to be a rant. I read it and was astounded. No one who lives in a first world country would put up with the sort of situation he was describing. By the end of his post though, he was calmer and said something I’m not sure I could say. He said he was going to take the situation and use it to grow his character as a Christian. Use it to learn how to forgive and how to endure. He wasn’t going to quit standing up for justice and what was right, but in the absence of said justice, he was going to use it to grow in his faith because, after all, that is what was most important.
I say all this because it relates to a question I’ve been puzzling over. No, my question is not as severe as the situation my blogger friend is having to deal with. First world problems, after all. But I’m thinking the resolution he came up with for his situation is something I need to consider for my own problem.
Here’s the question. When is it okay to say no in the church? Is it okay to say no, you don’t feel called to do something? Is it okay to say no, I feel like I’m burning out at this task, and I need a break? Is it okay to say no when you feel like you’re being taken for granted? Is it okay to say no about doing anything? Or is it okay to feel excluded when you are shut out of something you wanted to try?
Part of the problem with all of these questions is that there is a big problem in our congregations today with getting people connected and getting enough of them to volunteer for all of the tasks that need to be done. There are also, I hate to say, tasks that are more desirable than others and more a part of the “power structure” of the church. I think some of this might have led to my exclusion from the thing I really wanted to try.
But, that’s neither here nor there. I’m really wondering when or if it’s okay to say no. I know Jesus called us to share our gifts in the local body of believers, and I believe in that wholeheartedly. What happens though when you are the only one or one of a very small group of people who has a particular gift that you are expected to use week after week, not ever getting a break to study or get filled up with the Word? Are you ever supposed to say anything, or do you work until you are burnt out and ready to slam the door as you leave the church never returning to its doors?
There’s not an easy answer for this question. Many people do want to serve God and their churches and feel called to be in their positions to the point of being burnt out. They don’t want to admit they need a break. They think it’s wrong to say no.
For me, part of being a writer is asking the difficult questions and trying to figure out answers. I think if more of us actually shared our gifts with a local body of believers this wouldn’t be as much of a question. There would be resources to cover for someone who needs a break from sharing a particular gift.
But, in absence of a way to make everyone march in lockstep and do the things we want them to do (Would we really want that?), I need to figure out what I’m going to do and how I’m going to deal with my fatigue and with my feelings. And that goes back to the story I shared at the beginning of this post. My blogger friend, who is dealing with a situation no one should have to deal with, is using that situation to grow his character and his faith as a Christian and to learn how to forgive and how to endure. How can I do any less?
Praying for God’s blessings on you all today!