Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Give me a Break

I know that "burn-out" is a common malady among church workers--both paid staff and volunteers. Among the lay leadership of the churches, I think that burnout often comes from utilizing people outside of their gifted areas and taking advantage of good hearted, well meaning people by not offering any support or additional resources.

Paid staff can suffer from burnout from trying to do too much with too little, not adequately budgeting their time and from letting a few well meaning members dictate their schedules and monopolize most of their time.

Face it, people need some down time. It's important to guard your rest time. It's important to be able to tell people "no!" But I've noticed a trend among the lay ministers--common members doing uncommon work. Today's volunteer worker/teacher/musician/singer/etc. is much more likely to just...well, quit--to take their "break" without any preplanning or coordination with others that will be affected by their failure to continue or find a substitute.

When asked they will simply say, "I'm just taking a break." or "I need a little break."

Their break might take them out of a Sunday School class, away from working in the church nursery, out of the choir or even out of church attendance! Have they forgotten that people are counting on them? A last minute call in or just not showing up creates a great burden on others.
Are you taking a break from filling a job in the church or are you deciding that you're taking a break from serving God?

What if your pastor--or my pastor showed up Sunday morning and said that he wanted to take a break? You can put you own church, your own pastor into the following scenario.

For my church, it would be Pastor Terry announcing on Sunday morning that he really didn't feel like studying this past week. He kind of needed a break from sermon preparation. He might tell us that church would be dismissed as soon as Rich and what ever choir members showed up were finished with the music service. Nobody will have to pick up their kids from the nursery or children's church because most of those workers are taking breaks, too. Since several teachers were wanting to take breaks, we would be canceling Sunday School for the next month or so. With any luck, Satan will decide to take a break too!

It would be ridiculous, wouldn't it? God doesn't take a break from being God and we shouldn't take a break from serving Him.

Paul writes to the Romans that because of God's goodness and mercy, we should offer ourselves to Him as living sacrifices. He says it is our reasonable act of worship. Giving our life to God; living our life for God should be what we consider reasonable for His blessings.

Someone once said that the problem with living sacrifices is that they have a tendency to want to crawl off of the altar. I guess that means that we want to take a break from serving God. It kind of makes me sad. I imagine that God isn't thrilled about it either.



Amanda said...

I haven't any good comment because I haven't contributed to anything in church since I was a teenager. Your post is giving me a kick in the behind! Thank you!

Mike said...

I'm not picking on you John but....In your "about me" section it says, "Let me tell you a little bit about myself. For the last fifteen years I have been (and still am) an air traffic controller." So that means when you walk out the door from work, YOUR ON BREAK! No matter WHAT your doing! :)

John said...

Maybe that's why when I ask for a break my supervisor replies, "You got a break the day the FAA hired you!"