I have learned that I am very expendable.
Sometimes it is easy to think that the whole world rests on my shoulders. Maybe that is an exaggeration. Yet, it is easy for some of us to also exaggerate our own sense of self-importance.
- What would this company do without me?
- What would my friends do without me?
- What would this church do without me?
The truth is that my company, my friends, and my church will go on without me. If I die — when I die — life will go on for everyone else. The sun will rise and set. The flowers will grow. The next week and the next month will happen. All of that will happen with or without me.
Perhaps some of these feelings of being essential come from trying to meet everyone else’s expectations. Think about the expectations that you experience regularly. What if I try to meet everyone’s expectations?
- What my family expects.
- What my children expect.
- What my boss expects.
- What my church expects.
- What my friends expect.
- What the civic group expects.
- What the team expects.
- What the committee expects.
If life is about meeting everyone else’s expectations, then I can begin to feel far too essential. In fact, I can begin to feel so overloaded and burdened that there is no longer any joy in day-to-day living. It is one thing to recognize one’s vocation/calling and to live as a servant. It is quite another to define my existence by my ability or inability to measure up to the expectations of others. At some point, I need to wrestle with these expectations and take a hard look at which ones really seem to matter, which ones have been thrust upon me, and which ones I have gravitated toward out of my own insecurity.
I was in a conversation with a friend of mine about this very issue. We talked about the struggle of living with no margin. We talked about the price and futility of living an overloaded life. My friend was a minister for many years for a very large church in Dallas. He said to me regarding his time and his ministry:
"I began to realize that if on a Sunday morning I was crossing the street in front of our church building and got run over and killed by a truck, this church would have a search committee in place by that evening."
Now my friend chuckled as he spoke this exaggeration. Yet, he was trying to make a point. He went on to say that sometimes ministers (and many, many others) see themselves as essential. Yet, life will go on for the church with or without those of us who serve these churches.
Bottom line? The essential one is God. God is the one the world cannot live without. We are born. We learn to love God and serve him. We die. The constant from generation to generation is God himself.
What helps you remember that you are the one who is expendable and that God is the one who is essential?