I was in the office of a church member this morning and she was almost in tears out of worry because a member of our church's nominating committee had asked her to lunch. She knew the reason for the invitation-she was going to be asked to be on Session (our governing body of elders). This is the season in the life of our congregation when folks are being approached by our nominating committee to "prayerfully consider" serving on Session.
This woman is one of those 20% of the congregation that does 80% of the work and is getting terribly burned out. She said that she and her significant other (who is currently on session) might take a year or so off from church work. Why do we do this to ourselves and to our most faithful members? I think that part of the reason is the way we tend to go about inviting people into ministry. We use words like volunteer and recruit, which makes it seem that the ministry is just about plugging in warm bodies to do certian jobs without regard to calling and giftedness. Women and men are not recruited by Christ, but rather called by Christ to particpate in his creative and redemptive work in the world.
I encouraged this woman to ask for guidance from the Holy Spirit as she reevaluates her ministy activities. I am sure that God is not calling her to drop out completely, but is calling her to be discerning as to where she spends her energy. Ministry is work and often can be a struggle, but when one is working within one's unique giftedness, it also is a great joy, full of meaning and purpose. This woman told me she feels like she "must say yes because I should be willing to do what's needed." I told her to stop "shoulding" on herself and stop "musterbating." (This is a church member I can say such things to!)
So, I pray for all of us whose "no" button is broken- that we might say "no" in order that we might say "yes" to Christ's call.