We’re surrounded by so many needs – where we work, in our communities, virtually everywhere we go. These needs seem so pressing, we’re worn out just thinking about them: pleas for food, disaster relief, foster care, blood donations, mentoring, tutoring, the church nursery. How should we respond?
In reading Oswald Chambers’ classic devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, I found two statements helpful for evaluating what to do when needs arise.
“A need does not always mean a call”
One statement is, “A need does not constitute a call.” Just because someone has a need, that does not necessarily mean I’m the one to meet it. That has freed me from guilt, for example, when the call to nursery duty is sounded. I’m really not a “kid person.” I love my own children and my grandchildren, but I might not be so fond of yours – and I’m not particularly good with kids. Other people, I have observed, have a great affinity for children, so I leave that job to them.
However, when I hear of a man – regardless of age – desiring help in addressing various areas of life, particularly from a spiritual perspective, I’m poised to respond because God has put that particular passion on my heart.
“Good is the enemy of the best”
Chambers also says, “Good is the enemy of the best.” There are many worthy needs and causes, but we have a finite supply of time, energy and resources. So what may be good for me is better – even best – for someone else; and vice versa.
The Bible also offers useful guidelines for distinguishing needs from a call, good from the best: Ecclesiastes 9:10 tells us, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,” and Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” If you honestly can't do something with all your might, with all your heart, maybe it's not for you.
This doesn’t excuse us from activities beyond our comfort zones, but if we find our time and resources consumed by good things, while things best for us go ignored, it may be time to re-evaluate what we’re doing – and why.