There is an sweet Canadian band from Montreal called Arcade Fire.
They won the Grammy for best album this year, so I know I’m not the only one who enjoys their sound! For one of their earlier albums (Neon Bible) they wrote and recorded a song called “Intervention”. Throughout my time as a deacon I was often haunted by some of the lyrics from the chorus.
Working for the church / While your family dies / You take what they give you / And you keep it inside / Every spark of friendship and love / Will die without a home / Hear the soldier's groan "we'll go at it alone".
Those lyrics still cause a stir within me. The words are perhaps just an observation, maybe with a ring of disappointment, anger or frustration. To my heart they were convicting. There were weeks during my deacon term that I filled every evening with “deacon” stuff – meetings, visits, activities, worship, correspondence - because I “had to”; it’s what I understood made me a valuable deacon team member. What I was doing was important!
Working for the church/While your family dies
It happened gradually. My motives were pure. I wanted to serve the church well. But as I offered to do different deacon tasks I had to sacrifice the home time. Not only did my physical presence diminish, but because I was giving the church everything I had, I had nothing to give emotionally at home. The cracks became gaps. I started to see it. I wanted to include or invite my "family" to join in the deacon journey I was on – with its joys, sorrows, trials and victories - but I didn't know how to... and I was drained. Unconsciously, I allowed the relationship with my family to "die", while I did “good” work at the church.
You take what they give you / And you keep it inside / Every spark of friendship and love / Will die without a home / Hear the soldier's groan "we'll go at it alone".
We are called to be deacons. The time we spend serving God through the church is precious. We are blessed to see God working tangibly in our congregations and communities!! But we definitely can't go it alone. Share your stories! (Keeping the confidentiality of course). God is here, working among us, and it is encouraging for others to be able to share in that! Being a deacon does not mean you automatically sacrifice your family. It requires an attentiveness to God's leading. What has he called you to do?
Bathe the deacons in prayer (include yourself too!). Pray that God will fill them with wisdom and understanding, that they may know how to serve well.
I wonder if you have felt a tension between serving the church and your life at home? How have you welcomed those around you into your diaconal experience? What might you say to encourage those who feel like they are “working for the church/while your family dies”?