Wednesday, July 27, 2022

The Showboat

If the first person to step up for leadership in your church is the person who needs to be needed, the second person to step up is going to be the person who needs to be seen. 

What better way to be seen than to be in charge of something?

You will notice this person because they will make a spectacle of their service in one way or another. Usually, they're going to make this spectacle out of the other areas in their life where they are not receiving the affirmation that they need. 

So this is the guy who shows up to speak wearing his dirty work clothes. He hasn't even bothered to shower or to change because it's important to him that you see how hard he works. It's important to him that you understand how much time he puts in or how much grease he gets on his hands. His appearance is meant to tell you, "I work hard," and his greatest joy comes if you mention it to him. "Man, long shift at work? Busy day?" He doesn't care if you heard a word that he said; he wants you to notice how well-worked he is. 

This is the woman who brings all six of her kids with her to teach a class or run a rehearsal. She lets them run around and get into things and make noise. Sometimes, she makes sure you see her stopping everything else in order to attend to her child. She might be a single mother whose every day is like this, trying to tame a bunch of kids and no one notices how hard she works at it. She might be married and not receiving support from her husband. But it's important to her that you notice how hard she's working at mothering and how much she gives for her children and how good she is at caring for them. The class or the rehearsal or the ministry is secondary to her; she is looking for recognition of her mothering skills. 

What's sad about the second scenario is that this is a woman in a church. She is surrounded by others, particularly women, often widows or empty nesters, who would have absolutely no problem stepping up and helping with her children while she leads, if she would just ask. But she won't ask. Sometimes, women will step up during the ministry and offer to help with her children, and she will turn them away. That's a tell-tale clue you've got a showboat on your hands, that you're dealing with someone who needs to be seen. If she won't let anyone help her, even when she knows she's making a spectacle of things, it's because she needs the spectacle

Just like the man who won't put on a clean shirt. 

You've got to be careful with this type of volunteer leader because it's very easy for them to lose sight of the heart of the ministry. It's easy for them to lose control of the content. It's easy for them to just stop caring and to push it to the side altogether and adopt something entirely more informal or even something that is a full waste of time. You will have persons show up to a class and never crack a book open because the book is not the thing; the spectacle is the thing. 

A person who needs to be needed will throw themselves into the ministry because they're weaving themselves into it as an indispensable thread. But a person who needs to be seen will do no such thing because that ministry is just a venue; it's just an opportunity. 

Again, does that mean you don't let a person lead who needs to be seen? Not necessarily. But you have to work with this person quite diligently to make sure their need doesn't interfere with their service. You have to change the narrative a bit and help them understand, at the very least, that the best way to be seen in ministry is by actually doing the ministry, not by making a scene. You want to recognize them for their successful, meaningful, invested service and not just for showing up. Talk to the man about his words, not his appearance. Talk to the mother about her content, not her kids. Make sure they know that the thing is really the thing.  

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