Growing up in my family, it was easy to tell who was in the family and who wasn’t. If you were a guest in our home, you didn’t have to do chores. After dinner, our guests were invited to the den to continue their conversations with my parents as my mom would announce, “Please don’t touch anything. The boys (my brother and I) will take care of everything.”
That meant we were to clean the table off, wipe it down, and reset it for coffee. The dishes were to be washed and put away. Any extra food was stored and then – and only then – were we dismissed to our rooms.
You see, in our family, everybody had a job. Dad worked and brought home the money. Mom cooked and kept everybody clean, fed, and healthy. My brother and I picked up the slack. We cut the grass. We washed and folded clothes. When we got older, we did the grocery shopping.
That was the deal. Everyone had a job and the family counted on everyone doing their job. These jobs weren’t necessarily fun, but they all had to get done. If Dad didn’t work, we would be homeless. If Mom didn’t cook, we’d starve. If we didn’t cut the grass, our house would be overrun with grass and holly bushes. The family ran best when everyone did their job and in our family, everybody had a chore that was vital to the family’s well-being.
Several years ago, our church began to focus on helping our members find their spiritual gifts and then helping them find a ministry that aligned with their giftedness. We have a lot of great stories to share from that ministry focus. Watching someone come alive as they discover the reason why they were born is one of the most exciting moments in ministry.
We also found out something else: no one did the chores.
Let’s face it. For any organization to function, whether it’s a family, church, or multi-billion dollar corporation, there are chores that have to be done. These chores aren’t fun, dignified, or resume-enhancing. They simply have to be done or everything grinds to a halt. Garbage has to be taken out and no one has the spiritual gift of taking out the trash. It simply must be done.
Having a spiritual gift for a ministry is great, but it doesn’t excuse you from doing your chores. Some of us have the gift of evangelism, but all of us have the responsibility of evangelism. I have friends who can turn any moment into an evangelistic conversation. With grace and ease, they can begin telling the story of Jesus in a way that is both convincing and compassionate. Their giftedness, however, doesn’t release me from my responsibility to tell the story of Jesus as I know it, no matter how clumsily and simply I might do it. I have friends who are loving and compassionate. They can empathize with anyone going through any pain. I watch their ministry to others in amazement. Yet, because I don’t have this “gift” doesn’t mean I don’t have the command to love my neighbor.
The church has a lot of opportunities for service that don’t necessarily require a divine gift. Finance teams and personnel teams, building committees and ushers, children’s ministries, and parking lot teams all need people who are willing to serve. Most of the time, the only requirement is the willingness to do it.
And if you’re a member of the family, you’ll have a chore to do. The well-being of the family depends on you and me doing our chores.
You don’t have to be divinely called to welcome someone into your worship services. It’s common courtesy. You don’t have to have a blinding flash of light to tell you to reach out to your neighbor who’s going through a hard time. It’s just what Christ’s followers do.
If you see a piece of trash on the ground, pick it up. If a door is left open, close it. If someone needs help, step up. No, there won’t be any great recognition or parade in your honor, but the family will be able to carry on. So, do your chores.
If you’re in the family, you’ll have chores to do. It’s the privilege of being in the family.