Miserable Servants

December 3, 2012 — Leave a comment

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There are a group of people who serve in every church or volunteer group.

In my missions organization, I find these folks on every campus.

The Miserable Servants.

People who are faithful to serve, but never seem very happy about it.

You do your best to try and help them. You offer to reduce their hours or switch their role but they respond by making excuses about why they still must serve.

All the while they fulfill valuable roles, but in a grumpy way, hating every moment.

You attempt to thank them and they deflect it.
You want to encourage them or bless them and they somehow turn it into a pity party.
And if you try to serve them…..Look out!

We all know them.

Here are a few steps to deal with them these servants and hopefully minister to them:

1. Tell them “You don’t have to do this.”
Many will argue saying, “No, no , no” and go on serving in misery.

Perhaps a conversation where you offer to release them will open their eyes to the style in which they are serving.

2. Get to the root of their motivation.
Do they feel obligated to serve?
Do they feel indispensable?
Are they motivated by guilt?

Perhaps the most annoying, grumpy servant is merely a hurting person in need of grace.

Through twenty plus years in missions, I have met my fair share of grumpy missionaries. They may be difficult to be around, but if you can find out why they are hurting, change may be able to come.

3. Find out if they want to serve.
There is a huge difference in our attitudes when we want to do something, rather than when we feel required to.

Even in our christian personal disciplines, we need to obey and do the right things with a motivation of love, gratitude and thanksgiving rather than duty or obligation.

4. Limit their service.
Like it or not, these people advertise in a negative way for our church or ministry. If you have a relationship with them, tell them this. This may be the very jolt a performance driven person needs to see the issues clearly.

Many times we are afraid to address these attitudes for fear of losing them and their service. Do we care more about what they give or their own growth?

5. Love them or ask them to leave.
We either need to invest in these people, believing to see growth in their lives; or we should “fire” them. Both parties need to be wiling to invest in this change, taking the time it requires to see growth.

If we are not willing to engage with these people, then we must cease complaining about their bad attitudes.

In a volunteer missions group like mine, sometimes I want to tell people to “go home!” If they are that miserable, no one is forcing them to be here! By all means, go and find happiness.

However, letting them go is the easy way out. It does not lead to discipleship.

My heart truly goes out to these folks, They need to receive the message of grace in a deeper way. In some form, they are serving out of guilt or obligation.

Imagine if we took the time to get to the bottom of why they are behaving this way.

We may end up bringing transformation to a life; gaining a happy, joyful servant in the process.

 “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 2:9

 Whether giving our finances, time, or service, our attitude should be one of generosity.

What other suggestions do you have?
Feel free to share an experience where a miserable servant became a joyful one.

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 21 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God