What I'm Reading Today: Exodus 35-37
Over the last several years I've learned that lots of folks make one particular assumption about the price of living together in community. "If you want to participate in the life of a community," they say, " then you are going to have to end up doing all sorts of things that the group needs but that you hate doing!"
I am unusual because I totally reject that line of thinking. In fact, it is that very assumption that has done more to undermine the life of our local churches than anything else. I make the radical assumption that communities thrive when people are asked to contribute the things they LOVE to do!
Each time I bring that way of being into a community, I find there are lots of folks who are initially suspicious of that approach. "It sounds good in theory," some say, "but it's not practical. After all, if we organize ourselves around people doing what they are passionate about – who on earth would ever take out the garbage, crunch numbers to create a budget, or care for the screaming babies?!"
I never argue when I hear that response – I just try to let a little time pass and allow people to grow into my way of being. I do that because I trust that eventually a shift will start to take place in the community. Slowly people will realize, for instance, that there are people with the spiritual gift for servanthood who love caring for the community through acts of service – acts like taking out the garbage and vacuuming. There are folks with the gift of administration who love transforming numbers on the page of a budget into a vision for the community's future. There are folks who have the spiritual gift of helping who love to comfort a screaming baby until it calms down.
The problem is that those of us who live in community aren't patient enough to let the process work organically. We get in a hurry and plug people into open slots without a second thought about whether their gifts match the community's need. Consequently we end up putting people into positions they don't enjoy and then later wonder why they suddenly stopped participating in the life of the community.
Given my assumption that spiritual community should be a place where people explore and develop their passions, it's no wonder I was fond of today's passage – for in that passage we hear a little bit about Bezalel and his role in the community. "Moses told the Israelites, 'See, God has selected Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. [God] has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skills, ability, and know-how for making all sorts of things…" In other words, the community was called to honor Bezalel's gifts and put him in a position where he could use those gifts to build things for the community. What a concept!
Perhaps over a period of time, you have allowed those communities that you participate in to plug you into a slot based upon the group's need and not your own spiritual gifts. As a result, you might be feeling a little bit disconnected. If that's the case, spend some time today contemplating your gifts – those areas in life where you come alive with joy and passion. Once you find such areas, consider pursuing opportunities to put those gifts into action!
Til next time …