In an age when helping others is already seen as a big accomplishment, we often stop at the act and don’t stop to examine ourselves.
Tim Keller speaks in an interview about the dynamics of a church as it grows larger and about how we can actually be selfish in helping people.
Redeemer has grown fairly rapidly over recent years: what are some of the adjustments you have personally made to ensure ongoing growth?
TK: There’s a piece I wrote on this subject that is readily available on the internet — it’s called ‘Church Size Dynamics’. In a nutshell, however, as a church grows larger, the lead pastor has to be more present to groups of people and less available to individuals. When hundreds of people are waiting to hear your sermon, or dozens of leaders are waiting to be trained and mentored, is it good stewardship to take away three hours that could be helping hundreds and thousands of people grow to counsel one person in crisis? My pastoral heart — and (to be honest) my need to please people — make me want to be available to any individual who wants me. But at various times my own leaders had to confront me about the selfishness of such availability. They would say, ‘You are being a terrible steward! You recruited us to shepherd people, but we are doing it poorly because you are too busy wanting the emotional pay-off of doing it yourself, rather than teaching and training us.’
To Take Away
While most us have the opposite problem, having people to help and not doing it, we still need to examine our motivations for heling people: people-pleasing and a sense of pleasure we get from being useful. We should instead take pleasure that we are serving God’s people — and if they are not Christians, they are still created in God’s image.