Serving people is hard work. It can be exhausting mentally, emotionally, and even physically. Current culture teaches us that unless we somehow protect ourselves from the taxing effects of serving people then we might burn out. The unfortunate result of that mentality is many people are “serving” without really caring.
Let me explain what I mean. You love Jesus, love His church, love your particular church family (community of people you gather with at a place of worship). You love all that so much you undoubtedly feel the burden, the calling, to serve in ministry.
Whether it be as a volunteer or a career you set out to fulfill the call on your life to serve God by serving others. You’re all excited to see people’s lives changed. You quickly get involved in whatever area of ministry it may be – greeting people as they arrive at church, ushering people to a seat, praying with people, watching and teaching their children – whatever your area of gifting has you doing. You’re loving it – being there caring for people through their good bad and ugly is all worth it to see the work of God first hand and be a part of it.
Pretty soon you and those you serve with realize the demand is greater than the supply. It becomes apparent that as you serve and care for people it is impossible to be as involved in each persons’ journey as you started out being in the beginning. It requires so much time, emotional and even physical energy. So programs and processes are developed in hopes that more people will be served with added efficiency.
It works for a while until efficiency reaches a tipping point where processes begin trumping the actual caring for people. Processes work great for dealing with products or objects as the subject of the process, but it’s much more tricky when the subjects are people. You see people are not as easily controlled or manipulated as products are. People have a choice of what they are subject to. When they are subject to an environment that isn’t providing the love and care they need then they leave to find it elsewhere.
That is the problem I’m describing when I reference “serving” without really caring. Any of us who have served more than a minute in ministry have experienced a moment where it felt more like going through the motions than loving devotion. So how do we overcome the dilemma of serving more people without losing the genuine care?
Well there seems to be a lot of emphasis lately on doing things as part of our serving and our process that can make people “feel” cared for. I understand the intent and admit what I’m about to say might seem picky. But what if instead of thinking about how to make people “feel” cared for we stopped and took the time to understand what it would take for us to get back to actually caring?
What if we challenged more people to step up and care? What if instead of focusing so much on how we can care for more people we focused on how we care more for the people we can? What if instead of only celebrating how many people we churn through our processes we also celebrate the people who become developed and equipped to begin sharing the burden of truly caring for others outside of the processes?
I hope and pray we all can see the eternal implications of how we share Gods love. Feelings are fleeting, but truly experiencing God’s love is eternal. If we’re to be vessels God uses to show His love to others we have to stop acting like we care to make people feel like we do. We have to take action because we care and the truth of God’s love in us will show through. Go read 1 John 3:16-18 and be encouraged to do something heartfelt today. Don’t do it because someone told you to or asked you to or notices what you do. Do it because you simply and truly do care.