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 house, you didn’t have to do any chores. After dinner, our guests were invited to the den to continue their conversations with my parents while my mother announced, “Please don’t touch anything. The boys (my brother and I) will take care of everything .”
This meant we had to clean the table, wipe it down and reset it for coffee. The dishes had to be washed and put away. Any extra food was stockpiled and then – and only then – we were sent back to our rooms.
You see, in our family, everyone had a job. Dad worked and brought home the money. Mom cooked and kept everyone clean, fed and healthy. My brother and I took over. We cut the grass. We washed and folded the clothes. When we grew up, we did the grocery shopping.
It was the market. Everyone had a job and the family relied on everyone to do their job. These jobs weren’t necessarily fun, but they all had to be done. If dad didn’t work, we’d be homeless. If mom didn’t cook, we would starve. If we didn’t mow the grass, our house would be overgrown with grass and holly bushes. The family functioned best when everyone did their job, and in our family everyone had a chore that was vital to the well-being of the family.
Several years ago our church began to focus on helping our members find their spiritual gifts and then helping them find a ministry that matches their gifts. We have many great stories to share from this ministry focus. Watching someone come to life as they discover the reason they were born is one of the most exciting times in ministry.
We also discovered something else: no one was doing the chores.
Let’s face it. For any organization to function, whether it is a family, a church, or a multi-billion dollar corporation, there are tasks to be performed. These tasks are not fun, dignified or rewarding. They just have to be done or it all stops. Garbage must be taken out and no one has the spiritual gift to take out garbage. It just has to be done.
Having a spiritual gift for a ministry is fine, but it doesn’t excuse you from doing your chores. Some of us have the gift of evangelism, but we all have the responsibility of evangelism. I have friends who can turn any moment into an evangelistic conversation. With grace and ease, they can begin to tell the story of Jesus in a way that is both compelling and compassionate. Their gift, however, does not release me from my responsibility to tell the story of Jesus as I know it, however awkwardly and simply I can. I have friends who are loving and compassionate. They can empathize with anyone going through pain. I watch their ministry to others with amazement. However, it is not because I do not have this “gift” that I do not have the commandment to love my neighbour.
The church has many service opportunities that do not necessarily require a divine gift. Finance teams and staff teams, building committees and ushers, children’s ministries and parking lot teams all need people who are ready to serve. Most of the time, the only requirement is the will to do so.
And if you’re a family member, you’ll have a chore to do. The welfare 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 a common courtesy. You don’t need a blinding flash to tell you to reach out to your neighbor who is going through a tough time. This is exactly what followers of Christ do.
If you see trash on the ground, pick it up. If a door is left open, close it. If someone needs help, step in. No, there will be no big recognition or parade in your honor, but the family can continue. So do your chores.
If you are with family, you will have chores to do. It is the privilege of being with family.