By Jennifer Davis Rash
The more I talked the more his eyes glazed. Why I continued to spill out the ridiculous amount of information, I do not know. After all, he wasn’t retaining any of it, so I was basically wasting my time and his.
And while I could be describing almost any lengthy conversation I have with my sweet hubby, this particular conversation was with a ministry peer.
I usually have decent observation skills and can read my surroundings well. Knowing the appropriate way and time to share information, delve into a lengthy discussion or ask someone to join a spontaneous brainstorming session will certainly influence the results, or at the very least the efficiency of the process.
These are things I know well and work hard to always assess. I also know what it feels like to be on the other side.
You get caught by someone unexpectedly and it’s a day when you are already overwhelmed, overworked and pretty much exhausted. The other person isn’t doing anything wrong and may even be sharing positive news, but by not being aware of your inability to absorb what is being dumped on you, he or she sends you into a mental battle of perseverance versus creative escape.
You stand there nodding, saying things like “Uh huh” and “of course.” You determine to basically agree to all that is being outlined before you because that will take less time than debating or discussing the details. You convince yourself that the person will wrap up sooner if you don’t contribute to the conversation.
At least those are thoughts that go through my mind in those situations. Does that ever happen to you? (I hope it isn’t happening right now as you read this column!)
Anyway I would venture to guess that most of us have been on both sides of this situation, and I’m curious as to why we keep doing it to each other.
In my recent experience, I knew exactly what was happening, but I also convinced myself that I had to transfer the information to the other person at that moment.
Why did it have to be right then? Not because there was a vital deadline but because I needed to move something out of my brain and off my to-do list. I had planned to check that off my list and chose not to adapt to the situation.
How much of what we do every day is basically taking information of some type from one person and handing it to another person? Sometimes I think we live in an endless tangled web of assembly lines. Instead of taking the item from the person on the left and handing it to the person on the right, we are moving in and out of all the lines handing things to this person and that person — making the rhythm inefficient and chaotic.
In some ways, the spontaneity and creativity is exciting and fresh. In other ways, the lack of order is tiring and unproductive.
And so in this transfer of information from my brain to yours, I merely want to note a few reminders for myself while sharing with you another life lesson I’m trying to learn:
- Be aware of the other person’s schedule, pressures and energy level.
- Give the gift of “just the facts” and let the other person ask for the details he or she needs.
- Be willing to put any information that can wait on hold if the timing or situation seems wrong.
- Try to solve issues or problems (within the appropriate boundaries, of course) before automatically handing the problem to someone else.
- Be positive and encouraging (as long as it is real and not a fake attempt).
- Surprise a family member, friend, co-worker or fellow church worker by taking something off his or her plate.
Keeping volunteers fulfilled
“Too many willing-hearted volunteers have been wounded ‘on the job.’ They’ve responded to an invitation to serve, only to end up in a volunteer position that was poorly conceived, resulting in tasks that few people would find fulfilling. Or they show up to serve and discover they have nothing to do; an unprepared volunteer coordinator has wasted their time, causing them to lose precious hours they had willingly carved out from their busy schedule.
“Some work hard on menial tasks without ever hearing how their efforts serve a grander cause; they’re given plenty of work, but no vision. Others have felt overwhelmed by unreasonable demands for which they’ve not received proper training; rather than being set up to win, they get put on the express lane to frustration and failure.
“Many have been hurt when a coercive leader drafted them to ‘fill a slot’ without considering their gifts or talents or what they love to do. Some have given hours — and maybe even years — in voluntary service to an organization or church, without receiving a single thanks.
“But it doesn’t have to be that way. … Volunteers can experience a deep satisfaction and have a profound impact on others. … [Church leaders can learn to care for volunteers properly, provide the right training, recruit better, etc.] … We talk with volunteers about these issues so we can learn from their experiences and continue to improve the volunteer culture in our church.
“The church was designed to be primarily a volunteer organization. The power of the church truly is the power of everybody as men and women, young and old, offer their gifts to work out God’s redemptive plan.
“Jesus chose to advance His work primarily on the shoulders of ordinary people who live in the real world of family and business and community. He believed the same skills used to make clay pots and herd livestock and bake bread could be used to advance the kingdom of God.
“The apostle Paul felt so strongly about being a volunteer that in 1 Corinthians 9 he reminded people that he himself was one.
“I believe that the church is the hope of the world. But that hope rests on the willingness of volunteers from all walks of life … to be mobilized, empowered and used by God.
“Once you decide to invest even a small portion of the blessings God has given you into the lives of others, you’ll find the seed of something powerful sown in your own soul.
“And someday, in the midst of giving yourself in the spirit and act of volunteerism, that seed will blossom into the amazing realization that this is what you were made for.”
“The Volunteer Revolution”
The Sept. 5, 2013, Rashional Thoughts — “Sometimes we have nothing left” — is the best one yet.
I have been thinking about this subject for probably a year.
I hear that phrase all the time, and I always think, “Really? Does the Bible really say that?”
All I could think of was that we wouldn’t be tempted beyond what we can bear. So you have just wrapped up my yearlong thinking session on this subject.
When I have been handed more than I can bear, let me not forget to rely on the power of Christ that dwells in me. I’m putting these verses in the front of my Bible.
Mount Olive, Ala.
“If what I’ve been saying is not getting out there (outside the church walls), then it’s not getting the job done. If it doesn’t walk out those doors, then I didn’t get the job done. If you can’t see Christ in my life, then I’m not getting the job done. … The world is watching.”
Pastor of Lamkin Memorial Baptist Church, Bigbee Baptist Association
Three ways to live on mission with gospel intentionality:
- Prayerfully watch and listen to the Holy Spirit to discern where God is already at work in the world around you.
- Meet and engage people in the normal rhythms of life.
- Look for ways to proclaim the gospel in word and deed.
Facts & Trends Fall 2013
Thanks for sharing about yourself in the Jan. 2 Rashional Thoughts, “Clearing the clutter starts with me.”
The thing I think would make Christians more excited and thankful is a clear understanding of their spiritual gift. Knowing it makes an enormous difference in your understanding, task selections and success.
Bob Cosby, M.D.
“The word missional is a popular buzzword in the church today. Living missionally simply means having a Great Commission and Great Commandment mindset in all your encounters.”
Thom S. Rainer
President, LifeWay Christian Resources