Friday, July 29, 2011

Help a Brotha Out

So here's what I've been thinking about lately.
We've decided that this year at our parish is going to be the year that we start really empowering people to volunteer, to step into ministry, to do service. The thing that is holding us all back, as a staff, is that we feel bad asking. We don't want to burden people, we don't want to ask too much, we don't want to impose. We know that people are more inclined to help if they're asked, we know that every person who is in ministry today is in ministry because they were invited, by someone, personally. That's statistically at 100%. Okay that's not true. Some people see a need and fill it, some people, I guess, read it in the bulletin and step right up. But mostly, people serve because they are asked.
And here's the thing. I think people want to help. My sister, once when her pet was having a health crisis, agonized about calling my friend, who is a vet. I had a feeling that Sandi wouldn't mind helping, but Nancy was so worried. I asked Nancy (who is a teacher), "if Sandi's son was having trouble reading, would you be mad if she called you for help?" Of course not. We all worry that people will be offended if we ask them to use their expertise to help us, without paying them for their time, but doesn't it feel great to use our gifts and talents to help people we care about? (Oh gosh, I hope Sandi and Nancy don't mind me using their names!)
Oh but wait, this is my real point. I keep thinking of this episode of RadioLab that I heard a long time ago, about heroes. The story is about an award for people who do heroic things (like, SERIOUSLY heroic things) to save the life of another person. The criteria were strict; the candidate had to put themselves at risk to save another person, for no good reason. But there was a problem... can you guess? NO! It wasn't that they couldn't find enough people who fill the criteria! (You should totally listen to the show.)
Thing is, I think we are givers, by nature. I think we want to help. I think that as a staff, we should be inviting people to do what they are naturally inclined to do. God gives us gifts, not to keep, but to give away. I want to be known as one of those people who helped others use their gifts.

1 comment:

Cate said...

The real trick is not asking the same people who always step up to take on more, but to find those who haven't been asked in the past (or, at least, for a while). The other trick is to take no for an answer and not make the person who really can't take something on feel guilty. And, keep asking in fresh ways - someone who says no either just needs more time to think about it, or truly can't do this thing, but may be able to do something else at another time.

I got asked to lead a youth group starting the fall of my sons' senior year. In fact, they asked two of us who were parents of twins who were going into their senior year of high school to take on that role (both of us declined). I really want to do that ministry at some point, but that was absolutely NOT the right time for it.

So, keep asking, don't take no as a negative, thank people for seriously considering your "offer," ask if there is some other area they'd be able to help, and keep those people on your list!