Do you volunteer (or work) at your church? If you’re involved in any aspect of ministry, you’ve probably learned firsthand that there are far more ministry needs out there than a typical church or ministry has the time or capacity to address.
Faced with this reality, how do you respond? For many church workers and volunteers, the answer is to stretch themselves ever more thin to try and help as many people as possible. Blaine Smith of Nehemiah Ministries encourages us to respect our own limits while helping others:
At a staff meeting one Sunday afternoon a member complained to the youth pastor that many of us were feeling considerably overtaxed. He responded that we must learn to place some limits on ourselves. “But,” she replied, “Jesus never turned his back on any person’s need.”
As quickly as the words left her lips he shot back, “But you’re not Jesus Christ!”
It was at that moment as though giant chains dropped from my body. As a young Christian I simply assumed I was to imitate Jesus in every way possible. This meant striving to live at his energy level, and following his pattern of continually responding to an overwhelming variety of needs.
For the first time it dawned on me that there was a difference between how Jesus ministered to people and how I was expected to do so. God had put me within a certain physical shell, and I was to operate within its limitations. Not only was it okay to pace myself–I was required to do so. What a glorious insight!
However laudable the motives, trying to respond to every need or problem is a sure road to exhaustion and burnout. And this isn’t just a problem for church workers and volunteers–it’s easy to be overwhelmed by needs in our families and friendships.
What do you think of Smith’s advice? How do you draw reasonable limits in responding to needs?