why i am not signing up as a Sunday School volunteer

June 16, 2012

I see in the church bulletin there's a need for volunteers in the Children’s Ministry.

When I see the ad I get a little twinge that tugs at me. 

But it is not the Holy Spirit. 

It’s that little thing called guilt that whispers to me.

“Your son goes to children’s ministry.  Every weekend.  The least you could do is sign up.”

The Bigger Voice says, "No, you're not supposed to do that.  Stay focused.  Listen to God." 

The Bigger Voice wins.  I don’t sign up. 

A couple of years ago Pastor cancelled communion one Sunday morning.  Not enough volunteers had signed up for the Children’s Ministry and some classes couldn’t open.   Children had to attend church with their parents.  Pastor felt that if not enough people in this large congregation could sign up to help the kids we shouldn’t be taking communion.  

Ouch.  I don’t know if he meant to use the guilt trip method, but if you were susceptible to guilt you were in trouble.  You’d probably sign up for the next few years.

The following weekend, all the classes were filled and opened to receive children.  Hopefully most of those who signed up sensed a tugging by God and not led by guilt.

I served in the Children’s Ministry several years ago, four years consecutively.  Absolutely loved it.  It was a yearly commitment, and I knew God had me there.   

A few years later, at a new church, I knew my time volunteering in Sunday School was over.   But a new believer, filled with zeal and passion, asked me to partner with her teaching in the three year old classroom.   Knowing I shouldn’t, I responded "Sure!" before I could say, "let me think about it" or simply "no."   It was probably a combination of her excitement, my guilt and not yet sensing a place of belonging in my new church.  

A couple of months later the new believer, realizing she'd taken on too much, quit.   For me, it was an “I should have had a V-8” moment.   But I stayed and held out, but only made it through with God’s strength.   My exhaustion wasn’t just due to the three year olds.    I'd recently returned to school after stopping and starting over the course of many years.   I was paying on student loans but had no degree.    I sensed God calling me to finish what I started.   Doubling up on classes, working full-time and taking on the three year old class I literally felt like the blood had been drained out of me.    

I think it has finally sunken in.  Don’t sign up for something God hasn’t called me to.

But still that little twinge of guilt whispers to me.  But at least it’s only a whisper.  It used to shout,  and before I knew it I was saying yes when I should say no, only to be frustrated later and have to retract my commitment.   

Signing up for something out of guilt isn’t from a servant’s heart.  It’s from a guilty mind.     

Last weekend was the end of the commitment for Sunday School teachers, and new teachers had signed up.  My son and I made thank you cards for his Sunday School teachers thanking them for teaching his class.  I thoroughly am grateful for every teacher and helper in his class or my son wouldn't be able to participate.

I have not heard the whisper of guilt since last week.  But I know it is only lurking around the corner.