Are You Just Eating?
Feeding vs eating. This is a concept that I became incredibly aware of in 2020 and I realized what a problem it is in all areas of life. I see it at church, with my students, at the grocery store and more. It started out seeing someone come to a party, not contribute anything but sit down and eat half the pizza provided for the event themselves. I realized this was a very literal example of an overarching problem. I mean have you ever noticed that there are people who only show up to events when they’re bored? Or what about those who only call you up when they need something? These folks always have an opinion on the temperature of the chili at the potluck when they’ve brought nothing or they really want to be a part of an event but they don’t want to do any work or they like the idea of giving back as long as it doesn’t cut into their plans?
I don’t get this type of personality because I have the exact opposite problem. Personally, I have a hard time saying no to people, events and needs. I stretch myself thin because I enjoy serving but I also feel guilty when others won’t do their part so I try to take up the slack. I’ve come to realize that this can create negative feelings and pressure on situations that shouldn’t be there and quite frankly it can steal the joy and blessing of giving back.
I didn’t realize how many people were willing to do nothing but expect everything until the craziness of 2020. It was the moment someone got angry with me for not being able to volunteer for one thing because I was already volunteering for two more that I realized we have a cultural issue and sadly it’s one that is easily seen in the church. Nurseries are overflowing but parents won’t volunteer for extended care. Choir members only show up for their solo or when they like the song. Bible Fellowship classes complain that there are no events but won’t plan or work the ones provided. Church attendees leave when they don’t like the new pastor’s accent, the way the guitarist moves when he plays or the shade of green selected for the foyer carpet. I’d like to say this is a local problem but it isn’t. This has become a prevailing issue for not only churches, regardless of location or denomination, but all forms of organizations, clubs and teams.
We’ve become a generation of on-demand, fast food, “Have it your way!”, YOLO, “You do you, boo!” zombies. We sit mindlessly scrolling and call it entertainment. We call it quits when something isn’t just how we like it and when the excitement dissipates we move on to the next best thing because we have fear of missing out. We’ve somehow been tricked into thinking that we not only deserve to work less and get exactly what we want but that that will bring us ultimate fulfillment but it doesn’t because if it did the idle rich would be a lot happier than they are at the moment.
So, do a bit of introspection on both sides. Do you ever give back at places you take? This could be writing a thank you note to your child’s teacher. Showing up to neighborhood clean up days. Volunteering for parking lot duty at church. Offering to run the next fundraising event. It doesn’t have to be big things to be impactful and doing it with a cheerful heart can create a ripple effect in those around you.
On the other side, do you do too much? Are you spreading yourself so thin that you are of no use to anybody? Have you become disheartened and bitter towards some of your responsibilities? It is not your job to fix everything and yes, I’m talking to myself. Just because you are busy doesn’t mean you are effective and that’s a tough thing to come to grips with if you are a fixer like me. And don’t let your pride or inability to delegate duties make everything a mess. If you are feeling overwhelmed, know where your strengths lie and pray for direction. Remember, even Jesus took time for a nap!
So, we should really be treating life like one of those good old fashioned potlucks like you have after a revival or funeral. Everybody brings food and everybody eats. There’s a nice variety of options and nobody leaves empty handed.