Woe Is Me: Fighting The Poverty Mentality in Production
There probably isn’t a technical director anywhere in the country who has everything they want. All of us, in one way or another, want something more.
Regardless of the size of the congregation, I’m sure that nearly all of us have been in that last boat before (I sure have!). If only I could hire a staff person to help me out, things would be better. If only I had more volunteers, then I wouldn’t be so overwhelmed. If only there were more people to help me, I wouldn’t have to be here all the time, and I’d probably enjoy what I’m doing a whole lot more.
Before long, we’ve turned all of our attention onto what we don’t have and away from all that we do have. The result? A “woe is me” mindset. We begin to believe that God called us into the ministry just so we could live in a mud hut of isolation and desperation in the sound booth at East Bumblefuzz Community Church. That we’re suffering for the Lord by being overworked and underpaid. Thinking (in our best Eeyore voice), “I guess this is just my cross to bear.”
Granted, some of our reasons for not getting help may be legitimate and beyond our control. We can’t force volunteers to come out of the word work. We can’t just magically increase a limited budget. We can’t make old gear work like new.
But spending too much time focusing on our problems can lead to a dangerous “poverty” mentality. That mentality screams, “I’m on an island tackling all of the technical needs (seemingly) by myself because I’m destined to do this alone. No matter how hard I try, nobody will ever want to help, so I might as well start preparing myself for the slow slide into frustration and burnout.”
Over time, the poverty mentality can lead to a very desperate emotional spiral of blaming our leadership and even blaming God for the situation we’re in.
It’s about that time that remembering Paul’s words in the New Testament would be helpful. He said that God won’t give us more than we can handle, so we can take a deep breath, knowing that God won’t allow it to get worse. That’s totally somewhere in the Bible, right?
The problem with that is that the Bible never says that God won’t give us more than we can handle! In fact, it essentially says the opposite. Paul himself (quite used to suffering in his own right) said in 2 Corinthians 1:8 (NIV) that the pressure and hardship he faced made him “despair of life itself.” The circumstances he faced were hard enough to make him just want to quit and give up. Some encouragement, huh?
But, as the old cliché says, “God is more interested in our character than our comfort.” Every difficult circumstance we face is an opportunity for us to grow not only in ourselves, but also in our faith. Paul goes on in 2 Corinthians to say that, “this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God . . .” (1:9 NIV).
When we focus solely on the challenges we face, we become too wrapped up in the problem to focus on a solution. And often, finding that solution requires something from us. We’ll miss that solution if we don’t first take our eyes off of the problem.
Does God have the power to do miracles on His own and make eager, talented, available tech people fall from the sky? Absolutely. He also had the power to multiply the loaves and fishes on His own so that the 5,000 could be fed. But He chose to wait until the disciples took the food in their hands and broke it. He required them to act first before the miracle occurred.
And He often requires the same of us.
As you find yourself faced with any number of issues in the world of production this week, fight against the urge to give into the poverty mentality. Instead, make a conscious effort to shift your eyes off of the problem and onto the God who can help strengthen you in the midst of it. That’s where you’ll begin to find your solution.