This post is excerpted from Simple Acts of Moving Forward.
Do you ever feel like this? Somehow I’ve gotten into this pattern—certain jobs always go to me, and certain other people just grow more passive. It’s not like I’m trying to be high profile or grab all the glory. But why am I the only one who volunteers for this or that? Why won’t others speak up?
This situation develops a lot in churches and other volunteer communities. It also appears sometimes in the workplace, where stronger personalities will accrue more and more responsibility while those who are quieter or less confident shrink back. Two dynamics are at work here: you are on your way to burnout, and others are shying away from their gifts and abilities. Perhaps you have more status, or more seniority, or a more assertive personality. Who knows how these patterns develop? It’s rarely the doing of one person. But often it takes just one person to change the direction of things.
This time—and maybe for the next few times—let that opportunity pass you by. Of course you are capable of performing that task or service. Of course you would do a great job. But let it go anyway. Create a vacancy in the system that someone else must fill. This will be difficult, because people have come to expect certain things from you. And the vacancy may stay vacant long enough to cause people discomfort.
But the generous, balanced thing to do is step back so that others may step forward. The Christian Scriptures refer to people as various parts of one body, with each having his or her gifts to offer to the whole community. Yet we often don’t function as though this were true. It takes true generosity of spirit to allow your own voice or influence to decrease so that someone else’s may better flourish.
A Little Prayer for the Next Step
Why am I so hesitant to step back, to give up status or influence? What is this need I have to grab every opportunity to prove myself or be useful? I really want to grow in generosity—it makes for a much healthier world. Help me release my grip so that others can get a better one.
We invite you to use the Simple Acts for the Days Ahead tab to share the simple acts you are working on and to encourage other members of our online community in their efforts.