Exploring a Question

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!

4 Replies to “Exploring a Question”

  1. Good questions, Alisa. My answer is “Yes” to your “No.” 🙂 In addition, being one who understands these type situations from both sides, sometimes folks actually need to say “Yes” so others can have the emotional liberty to say “No.” Whenever any group gets together, there naturally arises the group dynamics of how to share individuals gifts without being taken advantage of–or of taking advantage of others. And, sometimes what seems like a “power move” often is simply the awkward reality of group dynamics in which two or more people desire the same function. So, yes, in all situations where we feel overlooked or taken advantage of we have at least two choices: nurture anger or nurture grace. I pray that I will always nurture grace–it creates less heartburn 🙂 Thanks for giving me something to think about.

  2. I knew my reader had to be broken or something. I swung by here and could only see posts from way back. But I have fixed it. I love your story. Your blogger friend from halfway across the world will make it through.

    I had church issues. I still have church issues. One time I grappled with being everything in the local church. I was the complete person, doing it all. At another time, I was content with being a passive member.
    I ha e however realised that the biggest place for bitterness to rise in our hearts is actually among brothers, in the church. I suffered this for so long, carrying the burden of being the unrecognised labourer working behind the scenes. When I got on your the scenes, I was embittered by the people who didn’t do as much as I would want. Bitterness became a part of me.

    But I thank God. His grace is so beautiful, I literally felt him embrace me on many occasions. Truth is, it is easier to say you want to serve God in the local church until you begin to serve God. Then the human in us responds to the situation. In times like these, I recommend a dose of Spirit. These are the best moments to practice being spiritual and responding in love and in the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

    I enjoy grace more now because I have seen that God always always has a beautiful outcome for every circumstance. We are free to say yes. We are free to say no. As long as you’re in that will of God, you’re at the best place.

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