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  • Writer's pictureRenata Joseph

Step aside, friend

I've been reading through the book, "The Emotionally Healthy Woman" with the young adult ladies of our church. Chapter 6 talks about "overfunctioning," which the author describes as "doing for others what they can and should do for themselves." When we function for others, they do not mature as they should. Another word for this dysfunction would be codependence.

I've thought a lot about this dynamic recently, and how it can creep into my life and the life of the church. I believe a root of overfunctioning is a lack of trust. I overwork if I don't trust that others will pull their own weight. I micromanage when I don't trust that the other person will do what's required. As a mentor, I take-on a "savior" role when I don't trust that God can do the work without me. If I am running myself ragged trying to single-handedly keep a ministry afloat, I am not trusting the Holy Spirit to provide the team or resources needed to do His work.

A look at most churches will show a small number of members and staff doing the great majority of the work and ministry. In doing so, a portion of the Body is overworked as the majority spectates, not contributing to the whole and not growing spiritually through service. This is not the example set by the early church.

1 Corinthians 14:26

...When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction,

a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.

Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.

The temptation for those who overserve is to blame those who are not stepping up to serve. We point fingers. We take on victimhood when we allow others' disobedience to dictate our own. We are not victims. No one else is making us take on so much. No one else is causing our burnout. God is certainly not calling you to do more than your share. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Overfunctioning is a choice rooted in the distrust of others and of God. If we are forsaking God's rest, that sin rests firmly on our own shoulders; no one else's.

John the Baptist was someone who was clear about Jesus' identity as Messiah and also clear about his own role in ushering in the Kingdom of God. To explain it, he used the metaphor of a wedding.

John 3:29-30

"The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”

John knew that salvation was found in Jesus, not himself. He knew there was a danger in overstepping his role, in remaining a middle-man between his followers and God. John chose to step aside, so that those around him could embrace Jesus.

If you are overfunctioning in ministry, are you willing to step aside? Are you willing to let things fall apart for awhile so that others can step up and serve? Will you remove yourself from the savior role so that the true savior may be seated there? The bride can't grow in intimacy with the groom if the friend is in the way. Trust that God has a plan. Trust that He will raise up others to help. He is intimately concerned with the health and maturity of His bride- much more so that we give Him credit for.

So let's be good friends of the bridegroom, Jesus. Let's prepare the way for others to know Him. Let's rejoice at His coming and yield to His spirit, trusting that if we will do what He asks of us, He will take care of the rest.

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