Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Do you find yourself with a plate too full? Welcome to a growing crowd. I hear of this dilemma at so many turns. We have too much on our plates. I believe over-scheduled calendars are the newest substance controlled addiction. We can't stop them! And....those nearest and dearest won't help. (As I write this I believe I suffer from this stress, but my load is not near the boiling point of many of my professional and devoted colleagues who are outstanding employees or employers.)

On a couple of occasions I've toyed with recommending shutting down the church calendar for a year....a sabbatical with nothing but Sunday morning assembly....in order to release enormous tension. So far it's only an idea because if I find anyone the slightest bit interested there's seemingly no way to pull it off because our people are addicted to activity. There is feared panic if there wouldn't be something to do. In the meantime families are splitting and hard-working saints live in a land of perpetual frustration because they simply cannot keep up the pace filled with weariness or guilt.

How might we find alleviation?
  • Learn to say "No." While the church is learning to set creativity free, we must be strong enough to applaud with clear conscience while we restrain ourselves from leaping into every good work someone imagines.
  • Trim your calendar. Ponder meetings that have become habit, but not productive. Kill them. Look at appointments which are useful and see if it would be possible to take a month's sabbatical. Would the place fall apart? Would we survive for just one month without it? Most likely so. Then give yourself a break.
  • End the feelings of guilt. Gone are the days of getting a day off. There are too many ways for communicationals to find you. The only real way to get a break seems to be to leave town. Even that can be short-lived. Refuse to take on the monkeys so many are happy to hand you. Hand them back...quickly.
  • Curb the ego. In one aspect we create the full plate syndrome because we are targeted due to ego. Others like to stroke us as to how effective we are and that's why they've called on us rather than another "lesser" type. This is a trap. We are not God. God is God.

The thing that helped me most was to read years ago of Jesus walking away from the crowds and getting into a boat because he didn't want to deal with them any longer. He'd given enough of himself for the day. Although they raced to meet him when he approached shore, still he was leaving the crowd because he'd had enough. I believe effective and long-term servanthood insists there be a wise and controlled pace. We must be disciplined to refuse all that comes our way demanding our faithful attention. Otherwise we will discover many of our prominent leaders choked on plates too full.


cwinwc said...

Great post today Terry and it goes well to balance some thougths I've been having about our church becoming a "one-day a week" church.

Liz Moore said...

It's sometimes so hard to say no without feeling guilty. Thanks for the reminder that it's ok to say no sometimes and not feel guilty about it. I have to admit, my first though when I saw is your plate to full, is yes, it seems to always be too full and I was actually thinking of the lunch and dinner plate!! :) And yes, those need to be cut back too!! :) Thanks for the reminders... in more than one way :)

Unknown said...

Something I was just discussing recently with my mom. I think you wrote this for her.

Stoogelover said...

Terry, we actually did pull the plug on the church calendar a few years ago at Long Beach and it was a huge blessing. The only ministry we now engage in as a community is one that really makes a difference in the lives of unwed mothers. Otherwise our entire emphasis is on ministry where you are each day rather than church-based ministries.

Good blog!

Jeanne said...

Amen Terry!!!!! Another homerun! In a book I’m reading, The Cross Examination of Jesus Christ, the author makes a point about the Sabbath and how the Pharisees turned it into a day of legalistic burdens and regulations “in the name of piety.” It left me wondering about our own relationship with God and what we pile on “in the name of piety.” I do think one of the things my generation has added to the function of the church is a “holy business” that can run its members to exhaustion and replace deep relationship with God and others. In our mad dash to get from one activity to the next, we no longer enjoy the art of being still with God, or with other people. We’re really missing something. God rested, Jesus retreated, why do we think we can’t?

TD said...


Another homerun! I have a few days off this week, and I am planning on leaving town to get away- I live alone- I am single! Got to clear that plate! Thank you for reminding me of that! When I saw you said just Sunday morning! I started to rejoice! Ministry supposed to be 24/7. It would send the right message to churchgoer- outside the building it has to take place. I wish I were headed to Tulsa and take you to lunch- I don't believe I will go that far from Atlanta! Be Good! TD