I had never realised this until thinking about a recent church service and those who were there doing jobs, I like to be the boss of what I do. What I mean by that is in almost every job I have done I have always ended up working my way in to position where I was in charge of what I did and that job became mine. It wasn’t that I wanted to be in charge to boss others around, in fact I have always sought out positions where I could work alone, but those positions were always where I was in charge of what I did and it was up to me to get the job done.
Having realised this I can see through out my life time and again where this has happened from jobs where I have actually worked twice as hard to do the work of two people so that I was solely responsible to times where I have worked extra hard to get my self promoted into a position where I could work alone. And even now as I work from home I prefer working independently of others, preferring to be solely responsible for the work that I do rather than with others. Maybe this comes from a childhood where not only was I not in to playing team sports but I also had to be pretty independent, who knows.
Now obviously wanting to be independent and isolate your self from others is not a good thing, it can lead to issues when it comes to being around others. But there is another negative side to this especially when it comes to jobs people do in church. You see someone can be doing a job in church for a long time to the point that it feels like they own the job and don’t like it when others encroach on their territory as they don’t do it right. And this can lead to that job they do defining them, it is who they are in the church and people know them for that role, in fact they can start to feel their worth is in that position.
But that ownership of a role or position can lead to a problem because inevitably change happens, there is new blood, new ways, and people eager to be involved and for that person who feels their worth is in what they are doing and protective of it these changes can feel like a threat. I am talking from experience of something which happened to me back in my early 20s as I felt at the time a position I was in was, to put it bluntly, ripped away from me. In hindsight it was right as I was placing my worth in that position rather than in a relationship with God but it hurt and it felt like a betrayal at the time especially when it came to the way it was done.
Why do I mention this, because it is an experience I had and some thing which I know in hindsight is worth mentioning to help others.
Firstly – knowing our own traits is important in order to control negative ones. I know that I have a side to me which if I am not careful can end up taking ownership of a job which not only could mean I unintentionally hurt others doing so but hurting myself by placing value in the position. A good trick I have learnt is to stop saying “I’ll do that” but instead ask “Shall I do this?” or “Do you want me to do that?”
Secondly – whilst it is good for people to feel they have a part to play in church the leaders need to be alert to situations where someone ends up taking over a role and it starts to define who they are.
Thirdly – in situations where this has already happened, leaders need to really think about how they approach changing it because done wrong it can lead to all sorts of hurt and negative feelings.
Finally although in truth this is the most important – we all need to remember that the most important thing is not what you do but your relationship with God. And so if you find a job you do is being done out of ownership, pride and duty then I would say it is probably time to re-assess the situation.
To finish with here is a video of Graham Kendrick performing My Worth Is Not In What I Own (At The Cross), as it features some amazing lyrics which I feel are quite apt.