As I looked at the preschool workers’ schedule, I couldn’t contain the bitterness welling up inside of me. I would be serving in the preschool room every third week instead of being in worship with my family.
The joy I had coming to church this morning? Gone.
The excitement of seeing new and old friends alike and fellowshipping with them together? Gone.
A chorus of thoughts paraded through my mind. Why wouldn’t more people volunteer? I won’t be able to be with my family in worship a third of the time. I’m not even a kid person. I just volunteer because I have a child in preschool. My situation is unique; I thrive on listening to Bible teaching more than most.
Thankfully in the midst of those thoughts, I knew my attitude wasn’t right. But it was right before Sunday School and I really didn’t have time to deal with them now. I simply said a quick prayer that I wouldn’t express my displeasure to anyone because I knew that wouldn’t help the situation and would just cause tension. And I prayed that I could find some way to have a better attitude.
I guess God didn’t plan to wait until I had a moment to myself. During the initial chatter at Sunday School, He hit me square in the eyes with two truths:
I had been focusing on the lack of workers. But I hadn’t once considered why there were a lack of workers. You see, our preschool department has been expanding so significantly that we were forced to add another class. I was having to serve more frequently not primarily because of the lack of workers but instead because our church was growing with young people! I had been praying for this for three years! Begging God to move! And as soon as prayers answered made me work more in an area I didn’t care for all that much, look where my attitude lay. Shame on me.
Practicing what I preach
I am the first to tell you that our churches in general today are catering to and propagating congregations of consumers: those who come to church for what they can get instead of what they can give. This lights a fire in me to no end. Yet God was quick to place my heart in a mirror and show me how that was exactly what was happening with me today. I always assumed I give because I teach and I serve in various areas at church. But those are primarily in my gifting and in my passion. When did Jesus tell me that I’d only be responsible for serving as long as it was in an area that suited me? The need for workers in preschool was a legitimate need – one that I was fully capable of meeting – even if it wasn’t my thing. But instead I was focusing on how much worship and spiritual instruction I’d be missing by serving. (Anyone get the irony?) God again reminded me of a truth in the Isaiah study that I had written, how if I would give to satisfy the needs of others, God would meet my needs.
All I could do after God shone a light in my soul was whisper, forgive me.
I didn’t want to write this blog. I wanted to deal with my yucky stuff – okay, outright sin – on my own. But if I’m going to share on this blog I need to be real with the good and the bad.
Bitterness sneaks up without us even realizing it. So if my story can help one of us hold our tongues and pray for perspective next time, it’s worth it.
Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. –Hebrews 12:15