Serious question. If the title of this post were the subject of an email from me would your reception of it be different?
I know my answer to that question. A few days ago I received an email from someone that I love and respect. I saw the subject line and my initial thought before I even read it was, “sure man, I’ll do what I can”.
Then I read the email. And the 50 other names that were connected to the email. I still found myself wanting to help, but with much less vigor. I went from a passion to do whatever it was that I could do to help out to simply saying something to the effect of, “If I’m able to get time I’d love to help out”.
I really do not know why I would respond this way. My level of passion for helping a guy out should probably be the same whether he asks 50 guys or just me. But it wasn’t.
The singular plea sounded like this: “I’ve got an issue, Mike. I think you’d be great for helping out and solving it. I need YOUR help.”
The group plea sounded like this: “I’ve got an issue fellas. And I’m really hoping one of you chaps can help out with it. I have no idea who that dude is going to be, but I figure one of you fits the bill. I need your help.”
The first one makes me think that there is something in me that is called forth to help out. I fit the bill. I need to take this thing and help. The other one makes me think that anybody could probably do it, somebody will do it, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be me.
Perhaps this is selfish. Maybe this doesn’t reflect a servants heart. Chastise me in the comments—seriously, call me out if I’m totally off base here. But I wonder how often our announcements and pleas for help in the “nursery” or cleaning bathrooms, or teaching Sunday school, or being on the finance team, or anything else, simply falls on the ears of nobody because they aren’t the somebody.
I hope that thinking through my response to this email will make me a better pastor. When we have needs within the church I want to pray and think through who I can personally walk up to and say, “I need your help”. I’ve known this all along that you get far more response when you ask them personally. I think now I understand why that is the case.