The Allure of Whatever Makes My Life Easier

Guilt has a nasty habit of not making my life easier.

If I serve in something that is easy enough for me, that I can put in my diary and then tell myself I have fulfilled my service duties, I can keep my guilt at bay. So I serve, and am happy to do so, because it stops me feeling guilty that I’m not. But what and where and how I serve may not speak to somebody pushing outside their comfort zone.

 

I’m going to call it. Many of the decisions that we make – whether in ministry posts or as members of the church – revolve around one particularly alluring idol: what makes my life easier.

‘Hang on!’ I hear you cry. ‘I serve jolly hard. I don’t think I’m just doing whatever makes my life easier.’ And, of course, I am sure that’s true. Not everything we do is designed to make life easier. Though we perhaps have to wrestle a bit more with whether the things do are always on our terms, if we do them because they ‘fit’ our schedule, and just enough to assuage our guilt in not serving. Guilt has a nasty habit of not making my life easier. It tends to ruin my ease. If I serve in something that is easy enough for me, that I can put in my diary and then tell myself I have fulfilled my service duties, I can keep my guilt at bay. So I serve, and am happy to do so, because it stops me feeling guilty that I’m not. But what and where and how I serve may not speak to somebody pushing outside their comfort zone.

But let’s be honest, which people tend to get the most help in our churches? Is it necessarily the people with the deepest needs? Maybe. But I’d be prepared to guess that, if most of us are honest, it’s often those who make the loudest noise. Whose concerns get heard the most? Those who spend the most time raising them usually. Even beyond our own churches, in our wider affiliations, how do we often decide where resources go? Is it those who are genuinely most needy? I think if we’re being honest, the squeaky wheel frequently gets the grease. Why is that the case? Because we all long for a quieter, easier life.

If someone is continually on at me about their pet peeve, I may well do something about it just to get rid of them. Jesus told a parable about that and, as I recall, the judge involved isn’t deemed a particularly righteous fellow. Now, it may well be that those who get on at us are in genuine need. But much of the time, we’re not really driven to help because of their need or out of love for them; we act out of a selfish desire to serve ourselves and get them off our backs.

I read this really interesting article by Adrian Reynolds yesterday. One of the points Adrian made was that many churches create training posts, not because they need someone, but because they see training as a Biblical imperative. I have no doubt many do exactly that. But I am also sure that the allure of making our life easier carries something of a draw for many too. I think this is especially tempting for churches like mine in which posts are not created because we think it would be nice but because we genuinely need more workers.

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