Do we practice what we preach?

I write this to all of the congregations. All of you. Everywhere.

I know this: God has called me to serve vocationally in the local church. Definitely in the areas of communications, first impressions, next steps, and assimilation.

I also know I’m looking for every reason not to.

The sad part is that I don’t have to look too hard. This is a post from a group I’m in (I’ve left out a few details on purpose):

“Does anyone else notice that as we preach mental health as a Church, ours isn’t the best example? I was told on Thursday to (insert project + short timeline). Five hours of work later – on a Saturday – it’s finally done. Is it just my church??”

I have a friend who recently left the ministry. She’s posting a lot of pictures showing the activities she’s enjoying with her family. Many of the posts contain the phrase, “for the first time in a long time, I’m able to…”

Think about that. For the first time in a long time, she’s able to enjoy activities with her family.

Just last night, I received this message from a friend “…after having worked in… a daycare, in restaurants w high functioning alcoholics and/or drug users, a government job, and in a regional insurance office that included several dozen insurance salesmen, I’d never been in such a dysfunctional work environment until now.”

(She’s referring to her job at a church)

My own personal experience? I’ve missed family celebrations, flown home early from a family vacation, and even taken my laptop to and worked at the ER – when I was the patient.

I’ve loaded my personal cell phone (that the church didn’t pay for) with apps and images that were only for the church.

And I justified every second:

  • It’s my family’s church home, not just my job – I want to see things succeed (done, done well, etc.)
  • I’m earning a paycheck
  • Jesus never promised easy, He promised it would be worth it
  • I’m not hanging on a cross

I justified it because I knew it’s what God was calling me to do.

And then I ran. For many reasons. And in some way, I’m still running.

But I know I’ll go back.

Because despite the soul-crushing sacrifice, there’s another common bond among church employees: we love our congregations. Your Pastor loves you (I hope). The church secretary loves you. The maintenance guy loves you. The financial secretary loves you. Even the website and graphic design person loves you.

We know it’s a sacrifice. We know it’s a calling. And each and every church employee I know wants desperately to see people connected to the body of Christ.

And almost every congregant I know will say at some point to a church employee, “you work so hard, you need a break (day off, vacation, etc.)”

You’re right. We do.

So…what’s the point?

Here it is:

If you’re sitting in church, not DOING anything, please step up.

Assume this: every time you pick up the phone and need to talk to your Pastor, every other person in the church also called him. If you attend a church of 200, that’s 200 phone calls. And there are still day-to-day operations.

I used to spend 8 hours a day at the office, then come home to work. For real.

Please – volunteer to do something. What’s the thing you do best? What are you most passionate about? There’s probably a staff leader at your church who needs you on their team.

If you’re not sure where to start, I use a Venn diagram, Make three circles, making sure they intersect. Label each: Ability, Affinity, Affirmation. Ability should be the things you are naturally able to do. Affinity are the things you love. Affirmation are the things that other people have told you that you do well. For example: I’ve been told that I’m good with kids (affirmation). I don’t necessarily like working with kids (that would NOT go under affinity). I think that I’m able to work with kids – if there’s enough coffee. So that could potentially go in 2 of the 3. When you find the thing that hits all 3, that’s your spot.

If you know a church staff member is on vacation or it’s a day off – respect that time. I guarantee you, each and every employee will go above and beyond the call of duty, but even Jesus rested.

Resist the temptation to call, text, email, etc. (Yes, we check our emails on our days off.)

For me, my own first step back to obedience is volunteering.

And I’m grateful every day that I get to practice what I preach.

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