We need clearly defined roles in every organization, whether private or public, business or non-profit. A church is no different. Whether a church grows or stagnates depends on everyone knowing “my job and your job”. Note carefully it’s not enough to know “my job” alone. If you don’t know what someone else’s job is, you might expect them to do something they’re not supposed to do or called or equipped to do; worse, you might be neglecting what you are supposed to do because you assumed someone else would do it. We’ve all heard this little story:
This is a little story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.
There was an important job to be done and
Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
Somebody got angry because it was Everybody’s job.
Everybody thought Anybody could have done it, but
Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.
Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
One reason churches don’t grow is that Everybody is waiting for Somebody to do the job, and the person who ends up doing too much is the Pastor. An exhausted pastor is not the sign of a spiritual pastor or a healthy church. So what’s “my job, your job”? The model I adopt for the church is taken from our home. In my house, every member clearly has a role. Everybody, of course, should walk in love. That’s a given for a healthy climate. What is unique to each of our roles? I as a husband and father protect, provide, and lead. This is not anybody else’s job. This is my job.
What is my children’s job? Besides loving Papa, Mama and each other, they have an important role that’s summarized in one word: HELP. What I want to see in my children as they grow is that they become increasingly less dependent and more helpful. They won’t know how to do this at first, so I have to allocate to them small, easy, bite-size tasks. Parents rob a child of the opportunity to fulfill their God-given call to be a “helpful human” when parents end up doing everything for their children. It’s understandable because we are more capable than they, but we must ignore this convenience for the sake of future growth. It’s also understandable because little children tend to make a mess when they try to help, but we must also ignore this small inconvenience for the greater gain of raising a helpful human.
My job as a parent is to do less as my children do more. When I brought both of our children home, the hard work of caring, feeding, changing diapers, and protecting children from endangering their own lives at almost every moment began! But as soon as I can delegate a chore, I do it. As soon as Alexis could feed herself, we let her take spoon in hand and feed herself. For her this started at one year old. I’ve seen 5 year olds who refuse to eat unless their mother spoon feeds them! It’s shocking because this human being is not only unhelpful, but an unnecessary burden to his family and soon to his church and eventually to the whole society. There is a ritual to self-feeding which Alexis executes nearly perfectly, except for the mess she creates. Like I said, that’s not important. We ignore unintentional messes. Intentional throwing of food, which rarely happens, would be swiftly corrected with both love and firmness. They ritual we taught her is this: she first puts a bib over her head, a cloth over her lap, prays a prayer of thanksgiving before eating, and then digs in. She is a delight at every meal because she can feed herself unattended since one year old.
Someone said to me, You have a special child! No, my child is not a special child (at least not for that reason), WE are special parents! We believe a child should learn to be a helpful member of the family as early as possible. As soon as they can do something for themselves, I stop doing it for them. As soon as Alexis could put on her own clothes, I no longer helped. As soon as she was tall enough to reach the light switches, I asked her to turn the lights off for me as we walk out the door. As soon as her hands were nimble enough to hold a screwdriver, I showed her how to change the batteries in all her toys. Of course, the first few times she could not really turn a screwdriver properly, but I had her hold it and I turned it for her as if she were doing it herself. You should see her confidence rise in be a helpful girl! Now whenever I’m missing my tools, she’s the first one I call for. She not only knows where most things are in the house, she runs to find them for me and be helpful to Papa!
This attitude should translate to every pastor and every church member. As a pastor, I don’t want to do everything, I want my members to grow up, and the only way I know that is they become more helpful. I want them to know “my job and their job”.
Since a pastor is the leader of the local church, every pastor has the job description of a father. Just as a father is supposed to protect, provide and lead in the natural, so too every pastor has to do these things in the spiritual:
1) pray (offering a prayer covering and spiritual protection over every member of the flock),
2) preach and teach God’s Word (feeding the heart and mind of Christians), and
3) lead and raise up leaders (by delegating power and responsibility to growing Christians).
(By the way, these 3 responsibilities of a leader are taken directly from the Bible: Acts 6 and Exodus 18.)
Every Christian is a child within God’s Family, so every Christian has the job description of a child: help! Be helpful! Be helpful to your pastor first of all. Start by feeding yourself the Word of God. Get into the habit of sitting at the feet of Jesus daily, reading the entire Bible through once every year. That will get rid of the Number 1 complaint of church gripers, “I’m not being fed enough.” Stop being a burden and start feeding yourself, so your pastor can focus on feeding the real babies in the family!
Secondly, pray and find a ministry to contribute to within your local church. You have some God-given gift that can be used on the prayer team, worship team, multimedia team, cell group, outreach group, church building committee, etc. Don’t be offended if you get turned down at first. My wife is a beautiful singer but was turned down when she offered herself to the worship team in a previous church. When the sting of rejection was gone, she prayed and asked the Lord what she could do for Him. He whispered, “Children’s Ministry” to her. She volunteered there and learnt many lessons that help us raise our kids today! Please don’t quit after three months if you are given a ministry opportunity. No one expects you to serve in a ministry role forever, but really to know if you’re suited for something, you will have to stick with it for at least a year. When I was a baby Christian, I served as a sound desk operator for one year and an usher and Rangers’ leader (children’s ministry) for two years before I was sure I was not called to any of those jobs. But you know what? Everything I learned in those roles help me to be a better minister today. I know what it’s like to be in the “trenches” of the sound desk when there’s feedback and nobody can figure out where it’s coming from! I now what it’s like to be “outgunned” by a mob of uncontrollable Christian children! I sure can empathize with those who are called to help at different levels.
The third thing you can do to be a helpful child of God is revealed in the next lesson I picked up from my child (in my next blog post).
By the way, during the time it took for me to write these thoughts, little Alexis has brought to my feet her non-functioning toy and asked me five times, “Papa, can you fix it?” It needs a change of batteries, but it’s bedtime, so I assured her, “I’ll do it tomorrow.” She persisted, “Papa, can you fix it?” Ah, after being asked for the fifth time, I had a revelation, “Alexis, you’re going to fix it tomorrow. You’re going to get the screwdriver and you’re going to change the batteries.” With that, I have a happy child in bed and I can continue doing my other job: writing.