Wednesday, January 2, 2013

By We, I Mean You

Do you ever use this phrase?

By we, I mean you. 

Here's an example from my household. I'll say something like this to my kids:

We're going to clean up the basement today. 

Then I'll follow it up with:

And by we, I mean you. 

What I'm actually saying is that I want them to do it, and I'm not going to help. But somehow, using the word we in the initial sentence makes it sound less... commanding. More... we're all in this together.  And, hey, that's my prerogative as a parent, right? Even if it is a little manipulative. Or, deceptive? Maybe a little of both.

Okay, so I should break myself of the habit.

But when I said it to one of my kids this morning, something else popped into my mind. (I love the way the Lord uses random moments to teach and admonish me.)  How many of us have this attitude in life, even if we never say the words? My thought this morning was about about church ministry specifically. For example:

We should start a youth ministry. (Thinking, by we I mean you, because I don't have time.)
We should help at the soup kitchen. (Thinking, by we I mean you, because I am uncomfortable around homeless people.)
We should have a VBS this year. (Thinking, by we I mean you, because it's too much work for me.)

Am I saying that we shouldn't make suggestions for how our church or other spiritual group should improve itself or minister to others? Not at all. What I'm thinking about, and what I've seen in myself, is the tendency to come up with ideas I think are great, but not finding some way to help, even if it's just by hosting a planning meeting or praying for it daily. And then I get frustrated there isn't enough ministering going on. When I tell my kids what needs doing, I expect them to do it. In the same way, we often expect things from others when we're not willing to help make those things a reality. And by we, I definitely mean us.

If I were into making New Year's resolutions, I would make this one: No more by we, I mean you. If we have an idea, but can't help, just say you. And then leave it to the you to decide if they can and want to. Without judgement or expectation.

We can go one better, and commit to making this an us year. In our homes, churches, work and everywhere else. Look for ways (big or small) to be a part of worthy things.

This isn't a resolution in honor of the changing of the year, but in honor of God's changing of my heart. On that note, let me wish you a year of making the changes that God puts on your heart. And by you, I mean us.

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