is this enough?

I feel like there is a natural end to what we’ve been talking about this week.

We’ve been looking at what we should do and how we know if it ‘counts’. We’ve looked at how we should start to shape our lifestyle related to compassion. But there is one very obvious question that I’m sure you’ve thought of.

How much of this do I have to do?

Common, you’ve wondered.

You want to check it off your list, “yup I’ve doing all my required compassion work to be a good Christian. 3 volunteer opportunities a month. Done and done!”

Maybe it’s not that direct. Maybe it’s “I don’t have any time. How much of this do I NEED to do to be ok?”

It seems like the logical finish to this week.

The problem is that is topic is crazy complicated.

We can talk about seasons of life, the calling God has placed on you, how engaged you are now, etc.

We can talk about what Jesus has said when it comes to the great commission to go out and make disciples (Matthew 28:16-20), we can talk about forgiving 70 times 7 (Matthew 18:22), etc.

Here’s my take, do with it what you want.

I think in general we don’t do enough. We’ll talk about why we don’t in the future but I think we usually don’t. I think if you’re anything like me you’re on a journey to see how this all works practically in your life. That’s a growing process.

I started out wanting to volunteer more and build more relationships. Then recently I sat down with my wife, feeling like we did at the start. Like we were missing God and not living in community the way God had called us.

The funny thing is that we were still doing all the things we decided to start doing at the beginning of this process.  We were doing all the things we thought that if we did we’d have it all sorted.

We’d be loving enough, giving enough, serving enough.

But as we did it we found it only depend our commitment or sense of need to do it more.

Peter Rollins has a parable where Jesus meets a group of followers.  I’m paraphrasing here but the story goes that this group is known for going above and beyond. As opposed to the rule of the day where they had to carry the pack of a Roman Officer for one mile if asked this group would carry it two.

The parable ends with Jesus saying “I’m so sorry you misunderstood. If your rule is to carry their pack 2 miles then I’m calling you to carry it 3.”

Ultimately Jesus is always calling us into more. Into deeper relationship, stronger community, and more of Him. Little by little we need to give it all over.

So are you doing enough? Probably not, but that’s ok neither am I.

You and I are on a journey together to be more engaged with the call Jesus placed on everyone one of His followers. That’s why I created this space. That’s what this space is about.

Don’t be discouraged that you’re not there yet. Be encouraged that there is more of Jesus to find, that He still has more for you and more your life can be.

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I just cannot handle more people

People are tiring.

I love community, I love spending time with friends and family but people can be tiring.

I was chatting with a lady who works all day with marginalized communities. We were talking about compassion and she said “I just can’t do it after work too.”

Fair enough.

I think this is a common problem. You spend alllllll day working with people and then go and volunteer with more people and by the end you’re just done with people. This isn’t’ everyone. Some people just go and go with people. But there are LOTS who have a finite amount of people time.

So they ask “how do I do relationship when I’m burned out on people after work?”

Well, compassion takes on a bunch of different faces and I think there are two major ideas to work through here.

The first is that work is not divorced from your compassionate life style. A life style encompasses all you do. Your healthy lifestyle is not only at home, neither is your compassion. You eat healthy at work and you love people at work.

For some reason people feel like work that isn’t in a church doesn’t count as compassion.

Ridiculous.

If you’re where God wants you then there is compassion to do there. There are people to love and compassion to share. There are opportunities to be generous and chances to show grace to those who just don’t deserve it.

You can live the life of compassion at work. Don’t discount all you do at work, but be there with purpose and intent. Let your story of love and redemption and grace permeate all that you do and share it organically with all the relationships you build.

The second thing worth touching on here is why I said yesterday that asking “does this lead to relationship” is good but not perfect.

Back to this lady I was talking with.

She said she was peopled out. She felt like she wanted to volunteer and serve but just not more activities like work. I asked if she had ever considered doing something that supports others building relationships?

Would you consider sitting on a Board of Directors, or maybe you could help with some administration, or you could organize activities for others to be involved in.

It was different than work but still so vital. The front line relationship of so many volunteers needs the back end support of others.

You may be peopled out but you can help others build relationships.

Now, let me be very clear. This is not an excuse to avoid relationships. This is on top of and in addition to your relationship building. This is so you don’t burn out and this allows you to continue in the relationships you have.

Relationship is a part of compassion. There is no way around it. But everyone has a different capacity for relationships and beyond that everyone has different skills. If you’ve got skills to sit on a Board of Directors, do it. Just don’t forget the relationships.

So maybe there are three questions to ask not one.

Does this lead to relationship?

Does this lead others to relationship?

Am I doing enough of both?

am I doing this right?

I like metrics.

I like when I can quantify things. I suppose this stems from the fact that I am a huge nerd.

One of my favourite past times is fantasy sports. It’s just as cool as it sounds.

Basically, a person who could never play professionally sports, me, picks people how actually play professionally sports and puts them on their ‘team’. Then, whenever the real athlete does anything I get points on my fantasy team.

Just as cool as it sounds.

But this leads me deeeeeeeep into number crunching, building tables and spread sheets. I’ve even created statistics on relative value of players to know how and when I should pick the player.

Just as cool as it sounds.

I love numbers and metrics.  

But life so often doesn’t work like that. Life isn’t’ charts and tables and life is often grey not black and white. Over the years I’ve grown way more comfortable with ambiguity and uncertainty. I’m actually really comfortable with it now.

But when it comes to compassion I think people want yes and no answers. Does this count? Am I doing it right? Did I do enough?

We want hard answers, metrics to show if we are the compassionate person we want to be. We want a formula or ratio that says “if I volunteer 2 nights a week for 4 hours that’s 27% of my free time. If we compare that to the normative persons volunteering and factor in tithing 10% of my time I’m actually a good person because I give an extra 17%.”

But it’s not that at all.

I do have something that might help. It won’t tell you what to do but it will tell you how to do what you’re doing.

The question to ask is ‘does this lead to relationship?’

Is what you’re doing building new or strengthening old relationships?

So does helping out at the soup kitchen count? Well, are you building relationships while you’re there or just handing out soup?

Does what you do at work count? Well, are you building real and honest relationships?

Does helping my neighbour shovel their driveway count? You get the idea.

It’s not perfect. But it’s a good start.

The cool part is this doesn’t mean to you necessarily have to start or stop doing anything. I just might mean you do it with a purpose and intent you didn’t have before.