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?)