Talking in Circles

I was thinking…which is dangerous, I know…and this time is no exception, as you are about to find out…I was thinking about how I am not a big fan of talking people into doing things.  Maybe there is some event coming up for which volunteers are needed but lacking, and I decide that I need to talk to people to get them to volunteer.  I formulate my arguments, mentally categorize all the motivational things I will say and all of the possible responses until I am ready to approach that unsuspecting potential volunteer.  Not too much or too little guilt; make sure and emphasize the benefits; make the victim…I mean potential volunteer…feel that they are needed. 

And then I strike.

And they say, “Yes.”

And I feel horrible.  I feel like I just stole something from them…maybe it’s their time or energy, but something.  I feel like they are only saying yes because I asked and not because they really want to.  Or maybe I laid the guilt on too thick so they feel reluctantly obligated.  I do not like talking people into doing things.

The problem is…that is my job.  I am a preacher.  I am supposed to convince people to change, to give up sin and serve the Lord, to be sacrificial, to give up their Saturdays and their cash, to work for the Lord until their legs and arms give out.  And I was thinking…who is going to talk me into talking others into all the things God would have them do?  There are bound to be times when I get tired of the feeling I get when I talk people into things.  I am sure I will have times of reluctance, times when I don’t want to be the guy that people avoid because they don’t want to give up their Saturday or their sin.  Who will talk me into talking people into God’s will?

And I thought a little more…it seems as though I will have to talk people into talking me into talking people into doing God’s will. (I know…this is starting to sound like a VBS song; “There are fish in the nets in the hands of the men in the boat in the sea of Galilee.”…maybe I’m not thinking clearly because we just had our VBS.) Maybe I will have to convince people that I need convincing and that they are the ones to do it.  Should I preach some sermons about it?  Should I address the congregation and try to convince them that they need to convince me?  Will they figure out that all they have to do to keep me from talking them into doing things is not talk me into talking to them?

But, then I thought…certainly this is not exactly what God intended.  Certainly He intends for His people to simply do without having to be talked into it, to serve without reservation, to work as for the Lord.  But, then maybe that means that I need to do my job of convincing others without having to be convinced to do it.

And, so, I was thinking…I need to thank all of you who are volunteers in the church…but especially those who work without being asked, who step up when a job needs to be done, who are ready and willing to sacrifice for the Lord.  And I am sure multitudes of ministers, elders, and deacons will join me in saying: you are a breath of fresh air; we need more like you; could you help us convince some others to join you? (is that too much guilt?)


6 thoughts on “Talking in Circles

  1. Clint,
    Unfortunately, it just seems the same 20% or so are the ones who are always willing to do something that needs done. If it helps, maybe the ones you are able to talk into doing things are exactly the people who are willing to do something that requires a bit of self-denial.

    Are you always asking the same people? Or do you try to “spread it around”? I’m guessing it’s usually the former. So maybe you’re just feeling guilty that you aren’t asking the people who always say no or find an excuse not to do things??

    In any case, keep up the good shepherding. Someone has to keep the sheep headed in the right direction and motivate them; even if it requires a rod sometimes.

  2. Clint, You just summed up my entire career in youth ministry. I HATE having to convince someone to do what they should be doing without even being asked. We finished our VBS on Friday and an amazing group of people shined all week long doing the jobs that needed to be done. We needed about 10 more people and I am the world’s worst at drumming up that kind of support. Unfortunately, the people who do step up end up getting overworked because others were content to sit on the sideline.

    I loved the angle of your article as it forced me to consider my own position. It’s too easy to blame those who are not working when I need to take stock of my own action -or inaction- to make sure that I’m providing the opportunities for others to get involved. As our leadership has worked through this very issue we have used Ephesians 4:11-16 as our model for the idea of “equipping the saints for works of service.” We have to be self motivated to go out and motivate others to do the work. If we do all the work ourselves, we have stolen opportunities to serve from others.

    I kinda rambled, but thanks for the article. I may try to use it in my bulletin space sometime with your permission.

    Jason Fish

  3. Clint, WWJD?
    Cliche? Yes!
    Appropriate? Maybe.
    Worth asking? Definitely!
    Your answer? Priceless (I can’t wait to read it)!
    P.S. I don’t like blogging but you kind of talked me into it.

  4. ProdigalKnot…

    Well, I usually try to ask a variety of people…but, like you said, there are maybe 20% who seem to do most of the work. And, my guilt usually comes along when these 20% do the work even though they are doing other things. Mostly, though, I just don’t want to come across as pushy or the bad guy or as always asking and never giving…all of which can easily happen…which makes me a little paranoid.

    But, I’ll keep doing it because I have to and because I get to. God has blessed me with so many opportunities to serve.


  5. Fish,

    I’m glad to hear that you guys are focused on Eph 4 as your ministry model. I don’t think a church can do it any other way and survive. If the ministers and leaders did all the work they would burn out quickly. Putting it into practice has been difficult, though…I am often torn between the urge to jump in a serve and the appeal of Eph 4 to equip others to serve. It’s hard watching opportunities slip by while trying to help others learn to take advantage of those kinds of opportunities…but it won’t work any other way so I’ll just have to deal with it.

    Thanks for your rambling. And you have eternal permission to use anything of mine that you get your hands on.


  6. Stockton,
    So, are you asking WWJD if He were in my place…or WWJD if He were around in our congregations today?

    Maybe if He were me He would pick 12 men who like to fish and go to the nearest trout stream. Oh, wait…that’s if I were Him…

    I don’t know what He would do in my place…except maybe perfectly balance between serving and helping others learn to serve…take others with Him to serve…tell a parable about using our talents…send out 70 disciples to spread the word (which would be half our congregation)…

    What do you think He would do? What have you been doing? Do you have a blog yet or do you just read and comment on others’ blogs?

    BTW…I might have another guy on board to go through the Masters program with us next fall: Nick Perez. He’s getting his Bachelors in Bible right now. Anyway…catch me online sometime.


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