I put together the first draft this post in May 2011 after being approached by several people (in the church where I work) who all wanted to talk to me about ‘needs and opportunities’ for ‘us’ to reach out and help different areas of our local community.
What I find so uncomfortable about these kind of conversations is that sometimes there seems to be an implied criticism – and I think it’s easy for people to fall into assuming that because they see an opportunity or a need their responsibility ends at flagging it to someone ‘responsible in leadership’ for them to deal with – yet I’m not sure that’s how it’s supposed to work!
I’m sure that God shows us stuff because He wants us to take responsibility for it – but it doesn’t necessarily mean that because we saw it we must attend to it* – each one of the folk who spoke to me on that day was already deeply involved in a number of areas of ministry into the community over and above their normal day to day work responsibilities – so it’s not that they were being lazy… just that they saw a need and didn’t know how to respond to it.
* Of course, if it’s something as simple as spotting that someone’s spilled a drink, or left some rubbish behind – passing that kind of thing on to someone else to deal with may well just be laziness.
Seeing a need and not knowing how to respond to it is not a new problem and Jesus gave us some advice (recorded in Luke 10:2) – He was aware that there was much work to do and that there was a shortage of workers – His response was to tell us to pray for more workers to be sent.
Based on that, I think God shows us these needs and opportunities, not for us to get frustrated that ‘someone else’ should be taking care of it – but to stir us pray, as He commanded, that people would be sent to respond to it.
That said, it’s also true that sometimes people just assume that, because a need looks overwhelming, it’s not for them to try to tackle it – but I’m sure that God has some truly awesome works for us to do that we can miss out on because we view ourselves through the eyes of our earthly perspective – whereas God, who views us from heaven’s perspective; with no illusions whatsoever; knows that, in His strength, we can be so much more than we think we can be…