Overworked and Underappreciated
Q. I feel used by my church. I feel like they use my willingness to serve without really encouraging me. I don't say no when asked to help out because I want to live my faith by being active in the church. But I am exhausted and they keep asking—with little thanks. What can I do?
A. The Bible is clear that we are called to use our gifts to serve in the church (see Romans 12:6-7 and Ephesians 4:11-12). It sounds like you are doing just that and you should receive more encouragement.
So what do you do? First, I would encourage you to share your concerns with your youth pastor. Maybe he or she simply isn't aware you're feeling used.
Next, try to keep three things in mind:
1) You are in control of your schedule. They can ask all they want, but you are the one saying yes. And let me give you permission to say no. Serving Christ does not mean doing everything. That's why we have an entire church body. I encourage you to really think about how much time you can give to service. What would be the right amount for you? What duties, events or commitments do you really want to keep? And which do you wish you never said yes to? Use these questions to create boundaries for yourself. Then, ask an accountability group to keep you firmly within those boundaries.
2) You need to receive spiritual nourishment. Are you feeling drained from spending so much time serving that you aren't spending time in the Word, fellowship, prayer or worship? As you pour your life into others, make sure you are also being poured into.
3) You are serving for God, not for anyone at your church. Live your faith for an audience of One. You feel you are giving without getting. Do you think that might come from a selfish motive? It's nice to have a "thank you" but remember the real reason for your service.
I had a dream once that I was speaking to a group of students. They weren't paying any attention. I felt a deep pain inside me. When I was finished, no one even noticed. But as I walked off stage, one person in the back gave me a standing ovation. When I looked closer, it was Jesus. It was only a dream, but it reminded me that I am not here to serve or please people. Rather, I am on this earth to serve and please the Lord. Staying focused on that gives me a better perspective on why we serve.
Jim is an author, longtime youth worker and founder of HomeWord, a group seeking to honor God through strong families.
Copyright © 2008 by the author or Christianity Today/Ignite Your Faith magazine.
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