A year ago, the Lord gave me and the misses a funny lesson about the power of personality. The small country church we attended for several months wanted to revive a helps ministry known as “Community Angels”. The woman spearheading the effort was bubbly and enthusiastic about it and my wife responded with excitement in kind. They met and discussed ideas, eventually coming up with a framework for the ministry and a presentation for the congregation to kick it all off.
The first sign of trouble came when the pastor suggested a change to the presentation; specifically from “What is your God assignment?” to “What is your passion?” The women bristled at the pastor’s suggestion – after all they’re both mature believers who’d prayed and talked at length about this ministry they would found and manage. When the women resisted his suggestion, the pastor tried to pull rank and direct them to change their presentation. The word-smithing tug-of-war went on via email and phone for a day and a half.
Finally my wife told him “Look, I’m passionate about Jesus and my husband; I am NOT passionate about changing bed pans.” At that, the pastor folded and allowed the ladies to give their presentation the way they wrote it.
Throughout the ordeal, I asked Karen whether or not it was God’s leading for her to be involved in the “Community Angels” and she could not answer. To be fair, I too had gotten sucked into a few church busy works through arm-twisting and manipulative tactics and had to repent. It was a lesson we both needed to learn, as various church jobs cropped up and forced cancellation of our personal plans and time together.
As often as I asked, Karen said her only involvement per the guidelines they established, was to take phone calls from people with care needs and match them with care providers. “Phone calls only then” I said with relief; our time together as newly retired people wouldn’t be significantly impacted by a few phone calls.
Words are made for the eating.
Days after making their presentation, a member fell and broke her femur (thigh bone). When she was discharged from the hospital, she called the “Community Angels” for help. Karen and I were out and about town for a leisurely day of shopping and lunch when she got the call. With no volunteer list established and no one available to help, we cut short our “date” and I dropped Karen off at the member’s house, where she spent the rest of the day helping the woman to and from a potty chair.
“I am NOT passionate about changing bed pans”
Does God have a sense of humor, or what? That which Karen did not want to hear from me, her adoring husband, who just like her is a first born child and knows what’s best for everyone, and I do mean everyone, Karen heard loud and clear from God who in what was so obviously an act of sovereignty, arranged some bed pan duty for her. After all, that’s Karen’s passion, right? Not! 😯
Having now gained Karen’s undivided attention, a wonderful friend and sister whom the Father has given to her, spoke an unsolicited word of wisdom concerning the power of someone with a vivacious and enthusiastic personality to persuade others to join them on their religious escapades. Or at least what sounds like an escapade during the sales pitch, but more often than not, is just an over-hyped religious grunt-work. Karen’s sister went on to explain that stoking feel-good emotions can mimic the joy of the Holy Spirit and thereby compel other believers to join in on the work.
The confluence of this and several other strange happenings during our brief time at that church, prompted us to resign our commitments and leave within days of the bed pan experience. The related articles below will help give a more complete picture of the reasons we left. Hopefully we’ve learned the lesson of looking to the Holy Spirit to lead us in all things and the next time someone makes an enthusiastic emotional appeal to enlist our help in a religious work, we’ll seek the leading of the Spirit so we don’t find ourselves assigned to bed pan duty.
Epi(B)logue: Such experiences are like bones for the chewing, often yielding up new insights long after the fact. One big difference between works inspired by the Holy Spirit and those of men who rely on enthusiastic sales pitches to enlist support, is longsuffering (Galatians 5:22). Simply put, the Holy Spirit sustains what He inspires, whereas the works of men become drudgery once enthusiasm for a “new program” wanes. Thus the “Community Angels” quickly folded and the bubbly and vivacious woman who tried to reestablish it left the church as well.