A few months after Noah was born I decided to make him a scrapbook. I scoured the aisles at Michael’s for stickers and dye-cuts and special scissors with ruffled edges. Every night after Noah was finally settled into his crib, I sat at the dining room table, construction paper littering the floor at my feet, and I scrapped.
The problem was, I hated every minute of it.
Nothing turned out like I had envisioned. I didn’t have a creative eye for matching papers and pictures. Everything I cut with the fancy scissors turned out crooked and off-kilter. My handwriting was messy, the magic marker smudged and bled. I had envisioned Martha Stewart magnificence, and what I created looked like the work of a ten-year-old. As it turned out, scrapbooking was not my thing.
As I paged through that rag-tag scrapbook a couple of days ago I thought about the verses we read this week from Acts 6.
Because the twelve disciples were struggling to maintain order within the rapidly growing church, they called a meeting with the larger group of followers to decide what they could delegate and what they would continue to focus on themselves:
“We apostles should spend our time teaching the word of God, not running a food program,” they announced. (Acts 6:2)
The disciples recognized their strengths and their mission – teaching and preaching the word of God. They focused on their God-given gifts and then delegated the responsibilities better-suited to the strengths of others in the group.
We, on the other hand, often feel obligated to do it all. And instead of focusing on the special abilities God has given us, we run ourselves ragged focusing our energies on areas in which we don’t especially excel.
Sometimes we say yes to something because we feel like that’s what’s expected of us. Like me with the scrapbook. As a new mother, I thought that was what I was supposed to do: make a scrapbook of my baby’s first year. Regardless of whether I was good at it or not, and regardless of whether I even enjoyed it.
A few years ago our director of children’s ministries called to ask if I might be willing to teach Sunday school at my church. A wave of guilt washed through me before I took a deep breath and told her I didn’t think I would be well-suited for such a role. “Frankly I don’t even really like kids that much,” I blurted. Thankfully she laughed.
There are times we do need to try something new in order to grow or step out of our comfort zone. But there are other times in which we simply know in the bottom of our gut that saying yes will result in cataclysmic disaster.
Sometimes, as with my ill-fated foray into scrapbooking, a period of trial and error is necessary in order to discern our strengths. But sometimes, like the disciples, we simply know what we’re good at and where we need to focus our energy. And in those circumstances, we should say yes, or no, with confidence.
Thanks for bearing with me this week, friends, as I scramble to edit the Katharina and Luther book before my Monday deadline. This is a re-post from 2013, believe it or not, but since I’m thinking about buffer zones lately, it seemed like a good time to revisit it.