by Caitlin Meadows
I like when I can meet another person’s need. This, of course, is not a personality trait unique to me. In fact, I’d be surprised to learn of a person who doesn’t like to be needed. Like little children who are eager to be their parents’ helper, adults feel satisfaction when we can serve in even the smallest of capacities.
My husband is one of six children, four of which are his sisters. Each sister pitches in when we have family meals together at his parents’ house, often with both prep and clean up. I noticed this early on when Adam and I were dating and deeply admired the community effort. However, I hesitated to jump in. And I still do. With five women in the kitchen, I’m usually not sure where I fit. While it’s polite to offer to help, it seems rather silly when the Meadows women are operating like a fine-tuned machine. Won’t I just get in the way? So, more often than I like to admit, I sit aside hesitating to jump in like a newby intimidated by double dutch jump ropers.
Re-created to lead means re-created to meet a need
As a part of the body of Christ, many Christians blend in instead of jump in. Their congregations and communities look to be operating like a fine-tuned machine. Rather than potentially upsetting the rhythm, it’s easier to sit aside and be served. When we do this long enough, we learn to ignore the inner desire to serve – to be needed. But that desire to be needed and that nudge to serve points to the reality that when we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, He re-creates us to lead. Which also means that He re-creates us to meet a need – to serve.
While the majority are sitting aside, too intimidated to jump in, those who actively meet the various needs around them are slowly becoming burnt out. This isn’t a poor reflection on them but an indication that we can’t do it all alone – whatever the “it” may be. We’re designed to operate as a body, each person doing his or her part to help one another (Romans 12:4-5).
Getting to meet a need
Realizing that in Christ you are re-created to lead in your circles of influence is important, but it is only part of the picture. The other part that is equally important is realizing that He re-created you to fulfill a call. He created you to be needed by both His body and those who do not know Him. God does not need you, but He wants to use you to meet the needs of His creation. How cool is that? The Alpha and Omega, the Most High, the Almighty wants to use us to meet the needs of His creation! Despite our shortcomings, imperfections, and finite minds and bodies, we get to be used by God! He doesn’t depend on us to meet the needs of His creation. No. Much better than that, He enables us to do so!
Three reasons we hesitate to jump in:
To become more intentional about taking the initiative to lead and serve in our everyday situations, we need to recognize the underlying reasons for our hesitations. We hesitate to jump in where needed because:
1. We’re waiting to receive delegation.
My dad pastored the congregation I grew up attending for a total of 34 years. That is a long time for a pastor to stay put! He’d be the first to admit that delegation was not always an easy responsibility. As I grew older and became more aware, I noticed that much was expected of him that could have been handled by other members. The problem was that the more responsibilities my dad handled himself, the less others saw an opportunity or a need to be jumping in. Thankfully, several lay people took the initiative and jumped in anyway. The result was a joyful, cohesive team that helped take a load off of their pastor.
2. We lack confidence in our ability to meet the needs within our circle of influence.
“Who me?” How easy it is to look at those around us as better suited than we are for, well, whatever the need happens to be. While it’s good to be humble and think more highly of others than ourselves (Philippians 2:3), it is not good to deny God’s call on us to serve out of self-doubt. Those whom He calls, He equips. So remember, when you think you’re not cut out for meeting the need- if God is calling you, He will work through you. He will accomplish through you that which He desires. And best of all, it will be for His glory. It’s not about you. All you must do is be willing and obedient.
3. We struggle to identify the need(s) we are called to meet.
Every follower of Christ is re-created to respond to Him and allow Him to take charge of their lives. This is each Christian’s primary call.¹ The secondary call of each Christian is the specific, unique way in which each individual is equipped by God to meet the needs He assigns.² In her article expanding upon Os Guinness’ explanation of primary and secondary calls, Amber Riggs notes:
Guinness emphasizes that to realize that powerful sense of calling we are after, the secondary call can’t come first. The primary call must remain primary.³
It only makes sense, then, that the more immersed we are in cultivating our relationship with Christ, the more in tune we will be with our unique call. Identifying how He desires to use us to meet the needs around us will naturally become easier as we more intentionally make time to study His Story and respond to Him. Again, our lives are not about us but about Him.
Time to jump!
So we can throw off our intimidation and quit making excuses. We can ignore the assumption that those with leadership titles or educations have it covered. And we can eagerly jump in. First, by more intentionally cultivating our relationships with Jesus through surrender, study, contemplation, and prayer. Second, by responding to His leading. Leading for Jesus through meeting needs on His behalf doesn’t have to be grandiose or complicated. Whether its a bathroom that needs cleaning, a yard that needs weeding, a worship team that needs leading, or a class that needs facilitating – prayerfully consider where and how the Lord wants to use you to lead. And then – jump in to meet the need!
¹ Guiness, Os, The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life (Nashville TN: Word, 1998), p. 31
² Ibid., p. 31