Here’s the full question from Jacob D.
“Is there an easy way to tell if you are being asked to do too much? And if you feel like you are, how do you tactfully and respectfully say no?” (he then explains his particular situation)
The absolute indisputable answer is no, there is no easy way to tell if you’re being asked to do to much.
There is no easy answer, because discernment is never easy. If it were easy then everyone would have it, and there would only be a few morons in the world.
Should you discern poorly to one side, and you’re doing so much that everything worthwhile in your life implodes or explodes. Discern too poorly on the other side and you’re a lazy and selfish sloth, with the only difference being the number of toes.
So, here are some tests that come to mind, (although this is hardly exhaustive as I’ve only spend about 8 minutes thinking about this question)
1. The PEACE test. Jesus came to bring rest to the weary, and his burden is light. If you’ve lost this in your ministry, they something is really, really wrong. Now the opposite of peace is lots of things, and for the sake of simplicity, we’ll measure them in degrees. Those who have lost their peace for a short while are restless, meaning it’s a major effort of WILL to slow down and turn off. Think flipping through the channels at 2AM. Worse than this is discontentedness, a continual state of anxiety and pressure that covers everything you do and influences everything you think. This is like a TV filled with loud scratchy static, and it’s just over your shoulder, just on the peripheral of your vision at every moment. Finally, the extreme lack of peace is bitterness or resentment, every little problem is a big problem. The ugliness within is all consuming and you can think of nothing but, “I’m a victim and someone ought to pay.” Disclaimer: there is no one opposite to a lack of peace… it has a thousand ugly heads.
2. the LOVE test. If you are serving in a ministry and this service has caused you to sacrifice your spiritual life, then something needs to change. You are either doing too much, or you’re doing it the wrong way. Loving God is a greater commandment because it always leads to the second greatest commandment. The reason why the are not “equal” commandments is due to the simple fact that loving others doesn’t lead to loving God.
3. The SKILLS test. If you are doing something that’s way outside of your skill set, then you’re probably doing something you shouldn’t be doing. Yes, I know that God’s power is made perfect in our weakness, but this is a reference to our failings our sin. We are still created with gifts, and a foot needs to be good at being a foot. Close to this test is the results test. It’s so close that I’ll not even give the results test its own number. If nearly everything you do totally sucks, then you’re probably being asked to do too much. I know, I’m really smart for being able to say this.
4. The PASSION test. Everyone likes things and has compassion for things and sees things in a unique way. God has made us all different in many, many ways. Yea! (although I’d be cool with a few people like me) If you’re doing something that’s far outside of your passions, then you’re in trouble. There’s a time to do things out of duty and servanthood; a time to step up and take one for the team. However, this time ought to be limited, as serving outside of your passion makes as much sense as a “caution hot!” sign on a coffee cup. (it’s just stupid)
5. The FAITH test. Don’t forget what ministry is: God is doing something great in you while you do something great in the world. Therefore, faithfulness in the moment is more important than results. If you’re CONSUMED with doing good looking good, etc. then you’re probably doing too much. Stop it you moron. get off that high horse so you can wrestle with your messiah complex.
6. the GROWTH test. Now all of these things need to be seen in light of what God is doing in your life. Discernment in anything requires a healthy spiritual life. If you’re not walking with God, then start doing that before you make any decisions or judgments about what you should and shouldn’t be doing. You need to be keeping in step with the Spirit before all of these things because God is growing you… so the boundaries on all of these tests may be pushed, and that’s ok… God is trying to grow you. Perhaps the answer is for you to “handle” it all…or the answer is to let go of some things. This last test includes all the practical things like having a regular quiet time, taking a Sabbath, not cheating on your wife, etc.
SO, let’s say you’ve discerned (or “felt,” if you must) that you’re doing too much. Well, the best way to approach your senior pastor is to be open and honest. Collect your thoughts, write them down, share your heart and see what happens. Ask for help… when you have too much, perhaps you can keep the sane responsibilities, but scale them all back. You can share the results of each of these tests:
“Dear Pastor, I have little peace these days, my faith is drying out, I’m doing crap work because I don’t know what I’m doing, my heart just isn’t in it, it’s difficult to be faithful, and I think I’ve learned all that God has for me in this season, and it’s time for a change… I either need to do things better (asking for help) or I need to do less things (asking for less).”
There, isn’t your life all figured out now?