Thursday, March 1, 2012

On Need Fillers and Party Goers

Some of you are Need Fillers. You see the need. You fill the need.

You pick up the neighbor kids when it’s not your turn.
You step it up at work when a project needs direction.
You swoop in to assist the friend that struggles.
You make a meal for the new mom.
You serve on the committee.
You cut out one hundred sheep for Sunday School.
You bring the muffins.
You chaperon the dance.
You volunteer to lead.

Service drips through your veins. You Need Filler, you.

Some of you are the exact opposite of Need Fillers. Some of you are Party-Goers.

My husband once said, “I’m more of a Party-Goer, not a party planner.” Translation: You do all the work. I’ll show up, enjoy myself, and eat nachos.

Tsk, tsk.

But that’s how our family leans. More of the party-going, nacho-eating type. Others-first thinking doesn't come easily. See, for most of our existence, our family ignored the needs of others. Surely, someone more qualified will ___________________________ (fill in the blank).

But now, as we open our eyes to the big ‘ol world around us, I can see Need Filler ways begin to bubble.

Recently, I read about service wearing you down. Need Fillers know this tired feeling. I read about a woman who in an attempt to serve God’s world, ended up losing her relationship with God.
“She lost her awe. Service wore her down and rubbed all shininess off of life. Service can do that to a girl. Service is not God so it leaves us exhausted, empty, and wanting after awhile.”—Glennon from Momastery

This made me think about all of you and the cool projects you spearhead and the simple tasks that add up to the many hours in your lives. It made me wonder if you’ve ever experienced service and good intentions blocking your relationship with God.

Question for you: Tell me, smart friends, how do you find balance in being a Need Filler and a Party-Goer? Have you ever served only to later discover your service was actually pulling you away from God? What was the result?



TheeFireWife said...

I've recently drawn back from sunday morning nursery serving. I don't know that it was pulling me away from God, but it was pulling me away from my husband some, as we weren't traveling to church together, weren't always sitting together, just we're on the same page. Its hard for me, since I'm a "need filler" as you put it. But I've found other ways. And besides, loving my husband is my first service, always.

Jean Wise said...

Discernment is one of the areas i am really praying about this year. It is so hard to find that balance. I feel guilty saying no. I think you really have to know yourself, your gifts, and your season in life before saying yes or no.

I do admire the natural need fillers though - the ones who see what is needed and hop right in there. I don't think I am the party goer more of the wall flower to be honest.

I read an essay a long time ago that stuck with me: Always go to the funeral. The theme was do what is right to do for others even if inconvenient. That has helped me decide.

good discussion Amy

The Wyatt Family said...

Just out of curiosity, Amy, where do you and Shane fall, birth-order wise, in your respective families growing up? (Eldest, middle, youngest, only)?

I am a natural Need Filler, I have some very dominant 'eldest child' qualities... have been this way since childhood. If I see something that needs doing or can be done better, I usually step up. Most of the times I don't necessarily think of it as 'service'... more just who I am / what I do (Gah, that sounds prideful or boastful or something... not meant like that at all).

However, I am by NO means the life of the party.... that for sure was my little brother growing up (and, in fact, rings true to this day). I plan the stuff and organize everyone, and then people enjoy themselves b/c Ricky is there (he's great with people, conversation, parties, etc).

Almost textbook eldest child / youngest child characteristics.

Sorry for the tangent, but it seems like some of the NeedFiller / PartyGoer characteristics can be attributed to this.

As for how to do better with the one you're not naturally drawn to? No idea, sorry!

Traveling Pirate said...

Just today I thought, "I'm always doing things for others but rarely ask others to do something for me." I would say that I am sorely out of balance on this topic and that probably contributes to why I consistently feel drained. This is even more pronounced in my professional life as a teacher. It always feels like give, give, give. I used to receive fulfillment in return. With overwhelming school regulations and the increased demands on teachers, I no longer feel fulfilled. I just feel empty professionally. As a Chemistry teacher, I frequently picture myself as a flask from which my self is continually poured out but nothing arrives to refill.

Amy Sullivan said...

Dang , some good conversation here!

First off, TheefireWife,
Good for you for stepping back. See, here's the thing that does get me. No, I'm not the first to step-up but once I do, it's tough for me to back away. It's like, oh, I've committed, I'm seeing this through...even if it isn't working.

I admire that about you. You saw it was pulling you away, and you stopped.

Amy Sullivan said...

I get that empty flask feeling, and I can see why you have it, especially in teaching.

It is just in your personality to do things well. Everything. Sometimes when I am feeling completely out of whack, I realize I'm putting too much into a certain area...???. Is this you? Maybe, maybe?

I think the perfect cure for this would be some travel. Hint, hint. What's going on with your overseas adventures?

Amy Sullivan said...

Shazam (I have no idea if I spelled that correctly!),

Interestingly enough we are both the oldest of our siblings, but that is a good point.

I think my tendency comes from being required to hold a lot of responsibility in my childhood. You'd think that would make me a natural Need Filler, but instead, it's made me develop some serious boundary issues. If I think I'm giving too much or being taken advantage of, forget it. I'm out of there. I guess trying to avoid the role of "doing it all" again.

I think Shane's Party-goer attitude comes from being a pastor's kid. People always did for him and then did more for him. It's only been as an adult that I've really seen him grow in really wanting to find ways to put other people first.

Oh and ps hardly a tangent...I happen to love your conversation both here and in book club. You rock!

Amy Sullivan said...

It's funny you mention the funeral thing. That's something my mom always said. You go to funerals. It's the right thing to do. And you know what? I NEVER feel like going, never, but I always think of how supported the person must feel just having a line of people who came to tell them they are important and thought of.

And balance? Yes, you are right on that one. It's all about balance. Although I can't even pretend to have that one down.

Thanks for always adding so much to the conversation at my blog.

Kathleen @ Kath Ink said...

Hmmmm. When the question of balance comes up, I think of one of the most challenging blog posts that I have read about balance by a friend of mine.

This is it:

Not the typical perspective on the need for balance...perhaps not what you are looking for but this post sure has stayed stuck in my mind.

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