church nonsense

Busy Work for Church Ladies

I was a deaconess once.  Here were my duties:

  1. Prepare the juice and wafers for communion.
  2. Pray for the needs of the church.
  3. Help with baptisms.
  4. Organize meals.  I was put in charge of this one.  The other deaconesses said it was because I like to cook, but I soon figured out that it was because none of them wanted to do it. I wouldn’t have minded at all, except it was like pulling teeth to get people to sign up.  I even employed the use of a website – Take Them A Meal – to streamline the process.  But that kind of new-fangled technology was too much for the dyed-in-the-wool Baptists. They just could not let go of their beloved sign-up sheet.  Which no one signed.  And I think I know why.

When my daughter was in college, she was asked to prepare and deliver a meal to the pastor of her young adult group and his wife.  They were adopting a baby.  A sign-up sheet went around for two weeks worth of meals.  Two weeks worth of meals. For an adoption.  No childbirth or c-section from which to recover.  My daughter, being a college student, had neither the time nor the money to prepare and deliver a meal.  But she did it because, as a small group leader, it seemed like the right thing to do.  Here’s why it is all so wrong:

  1. It is unnecessary.  With the plethora of grocery stores offering high quality, nutritious prepared foods these days, getting an emergency dinner on the table is pretty darn easy.  To those living in a remote area with no high-end markets and no fast food, I apologize.  You do need meals.  And I’ll bet your sign up sheets fill in fast. For everyone else, we church ladies have got to stop treating husbands like they are helpless.   They CAN do it.  Which brings me to #2.
  2. It inhibits bonding. Oxytocin is a bonding chemical.  It is released in our brains during sex, childbirth, nursing and caring for one another.  It is God’s genius design for bonding families.  Recent studies show that men who engage in the hands-on care of their children have a stronger bond with them than men who don’t.  Back when my mom was having babies (several of them), women spent a few days in the hospital.  My dad was in charge of dinner.  Him making dinner was a big deal, a special memory.  It cast a whole new light on him.  In our effort to bond with the other women in our church families, we church ladies rob men of the opportunity to form a deeper bond with their nuclear families.  That right there is why I believe it is wrong to participate in this antiquated tradition.  Besides…
  3. It causes burnout. When legitimate needs for meals arise we are too burnt out and/or financially depleted to sign the stinkin’ sheet.   So we wait for others to do it.  Or we become resentful.  We start assessing whether the recipients really need it, or whether they are showing enough gratitude.  Not too long ago I received a request to make a meal for a pastor whose wife was about to have their first baby.  Along with the request came a loooong list of don’t-likes and prefer-not-to-haves.  It really taxed my sweet, generous spirit.  And since I start just about every meal with garlic and onions, the two items at the top of the don’t-like list, I abstained.

Fellow church ladies, please, let’s stop generating sign up sheets for unnecessary meals.  It’s sinful busy work – Satan’s scheme to keep us from meeting any real needs.

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