I was browsing through a retreat center’s library recently, just grazing the titles. Later I remembered seeing a book entitled, Living with Eeyore: How to Positively Love the Negative People in Your Life, by Elizabeth Baker. I didn’t have time to pull the book off the shelf, but the title stuck in my memory. I happen to know a fair amount of people who live with the “glass half-empty” mentality. I bet you do, too. I like to think I’m a “glass half-full” kind of person, and that is usually true of me. But there is one area where I can miss the mark: church.
As I was preparing for our church leadership retreat last month, I began thinking about what needs to be improved–not a bad thing, certainly. However, in my experience, it often leads me down the path of looking at what’s not good enough, where we are lacking, what we don’t have. In other words, “glass half-empty” thinking. As I found myself on this well-worn path, I decided to turn back and begin again. This time I pulled out our member roster and our volunteer ministry records and did some useful research. I was shocked at what I found: nearly 75% of the folks in our church are actively serving!
I was tempted to think, “Yeah, but we are a small parish, so it’s easier to have a higher number of active volunteers,” but then remembered a conversation with a church leader following a workshop I led on helping people identify their spiritual gifts. She said that they were a very small church–around 50 people at best–but that the 80/20 rule was very real for them. Twenty percent of their members were doing 80% of the work, and not much was happening. It seemed as though the Spirit was encouraging me not to be so quick to dismiss that 75% after all!
In all reality, no church will ever experience 100% of their membership in serving opportunities. (At least, not with the prevailing paradigm of ministry being something we add on to our calendar. Go here, and here, and here to read about a different paradigm.) In fact, 75% is way above the average of 40-50%, even in the healthiest of churches. Suddenly I found myself in that “glass half-full” mentality, excited to share this great news with the leadership team, then break out the balloons for a real volunteer celebration!
When do you catch yourself thinking more about what you don’t have than what you do have? How many/how much is enough?
- How many people in the pews?
- How many Bible study groups?
- How many volunteer ministers?
- How many Sunday school classes?
- How many first-time visitors?
- How much money?
- How many who have completed gifts assessments?
- How many hours logged in community service?
- How many people engaged in mission?
- How many/how much (you fill in the blank)?
The God we serve is quite adept at providing more than we could ask for or want. When we realize that we are on mission with him we can trust that he is providing everything we need in order to accomplish his purpose.
Try counting your blessings…praising God for the resources–gifts, people, money, ministry, etc.–that he has provided. Develop a “glass full to overflowing”mentality, break out the balloons and celebrate!