Sunday, July 3, 2011

“There are different kinds of service" (1 Cor 12:5)

Have you noticed that people have vastly different tolerance levels for chaos? Like a “threshold of pain”, it’s my theory that people also have a “threshold of disorder”. To illustrate this point, let me introduce you to two very different friends of mine. Friend 1 was at my house every day last week to pick up my middle son for volunteering. At 7:30 am, her mini-van screeches into our drive way, worship music blaring through her car speakers, kids packed into every seat. She laughs heartedly into her cell phone as she smiles and waves “good morning” to us. As my son slides in through the back door, a McDonald’s cup falls out onto our driveway. Side-stepping wet bathing suits, pizza boxes, and candy wrappers, he climbs in to find his seat.

Friend 1 is on her way to an outreach VBS that she and her small group have put together in a low income neighborhood. (With a budget of $0.00, but a God of infinite resources, she has seen countless God-sized miracles take place!) In fact, Friend 1 is ALWAYS on her way somewhere, doing, going, helping, volunteering. She works full-time, is the mother of 4 active children (one with special needs), serves everywhere in her church, and is the first to say, “I’ll go!” She never has fewer than 10 balls in the air at once! Her family even won “volunteer of the year” in 2009, with an all expense paid trip to Disney for a week.

Friend 2 is the polar opposite of Friend 1! She is a quiet and tranquil person, living a life of structure and organization. Like Friend 1, she too volunteers, but only after she’s had many months (or years!) to think and pray about it. She and her family have been contemplating finding another church for over 5 years now. (Does “look before you leap” come to mind?) Her cars are immaculate, and her house and yard (tended to by hired hands) are magazine-quality beautiful. She’s a stay-at-home mom, who infallibly arrives on time and with a picture perfect hair do, and well-dressed children. When we talk, she’s one of the deepest and most attentive listeners I know!!

I wonder where I fall in the spectrum… somewhere in the middle, I suppose. I know this spring I was closer to Friend 1, but without the smile on my face. I searched for serene escapes like a caged animal! At other times, I have felt like Friend 2, agonizing about a decision, or just peacefully floating along in the calm waters of life.

So why did God bring this observation to my attention? Maybe it’s to show me that we are made uniquely, and there is no right or wrong when it comes to service. He can work with all types of people, speaking to and using us whatever our personality and comfort level. Maybe He is admonishing me for becoming cranky about my Sunday school. See, recently, my co-teacher and I have had to be away for 2 Sundays. For weeks, we advertised, sent emails, posted sign ups, talked with the kids, in an effort to get coverage. We secured videos and instructional materials, so the substitute parent would simply need to show up and press the “start” button. Nothing. We ended up having to close the class the first week, and God got me there for the second.

Now, God is telling me to withhold my judgment. People are at different spiritual places, and we serve with different “thresholds of disorder”. From the outside, I can look and wonder, “Why isn’t he/she helping more?”, but never see the chaos in their lives, and more importantly, their reaction to it. If a person is responding to God’s call, whatever that may look like to me, I need to keep my mouth shut and my heart open!

1 comment:

  1. Jennifer, this is good for me to read. I've been judgmental and it needs to stop. I have been friend one and was burnt out so I tried friend 2. Didn't work, but it taught me that I am unique and God is faithful to direct me where he would have me serve if I'm faithful enough to listen and step out. Thanks for the reminder!