My reaction had always been to reject the invitation. After the long wait times of modern air travel, why should I give up my seat on a flight and take a later one? Apparently, most people share my opinion because whenever an airline call for volunteers because of an overbooked flight, there is no mad rush to do so—even with financial inducement. We do not like to volunteer. Somebody else can do it.
I first came across Charles Osgood’s poem, *Whose Job Is It, Anyway? in my late teens and it is as applicable now as it was then. Here’s the condensed version,
This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
If this story reminds you of what happens in your church, you are not alone. Even in large congregations, it’s often a struggle to fill all the positions. Smaller congregations often fare worse. Sure the job needs to be done, but let someone else do it.
I wonder if our reluctance to volunteer reflects a misunderstanding of what it means to be part of the Body of Christ. When Jesus told the parable of the ten coins (Luke 19), it seems that He has the expectation that all His followers will participate in enlarging the kingdom. The anger expressed towards the third servant who hadn’t invested the coin and increased the king’s wealth highlights the importance Jesus gives to each believer’s participation.
In I Corinthians 12, Paul compares spiritual gifts to the body. Each part contributes to the optimum functioning of the body. Since every believer is given a gift, it is expected that we must use it for the church to effectively grow God’s kingdom. We cannot say we belong to the body if we are only bystanders.
Yes, it’s pretty comfortable to stay home on a cold day and view a favourite YouTube worship but is that putting His gift to use if we don’t do anything to grow God’s kingdom? It’s wonderful to be out on a Sabbath and enjoy the fellowship of believers in worship but unless we are doing something to help the church in its mission, we’re not using the gift.
I really don’t think we want to leave the growth of God’s kingdom to Anybody, thinking Somebody will do it. If we’re not doing it, Nobody will end up doing it.