I found this somewhere on the web and thought it was well worth pondering together (does anyone forget where they found content? ). In the quotations below, pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church (Seattle, Washington) defines what he sees as the difference between a “load” and a “burden” that we carry in our personal lives:
A “load” is a light enough pack that someone should be expected to carry it alone. Practically, this means that the typical person needs to find a job, pay their bills, read the Bible, attend church, pursue Christian friends, pray, repent of sin, share their faith, watch their diet, exercise, and look after themselves and their spouse and children if applicable.
A “burden” is a heavy load that is simply too much for one person to bear without the loving help of Christian friends. Practically, the person with cancer or another debilitating ailment, the mother of young children who is abandoned by her husband, the poor elderly widow who cannot pay her bills, and others like them should not feel guilty for seeking reasonable help nor should they be chastised for doing so. Rather, the church exists in part to help lessen their burden by taking some of the financial, emotional, and practical weight out of their pack and carrying it for them.
He goes on to suggest a helpful practice for ministry:
One key to ministry is discerning what is a load someone else has to carry (in which case we show concern) and what is a burden we and others need to help carry (in which case we take some responsibility).
He concludes with a nice exhortation to not extract too much from our church leaders and thus become part of their pastoral “burden”:
Are you someone who is expecting too much time, energy, money, and/or investment from the leaders in your church? Which loads do you need to just buck up and carry without whining until someone else does your job? Have you manipulated others’ concern for your load to get them to take on your responsibilities as their burden in the name of loving Christian community?
This is a nice piece, and these are sound words. I was challenged by it to do all I can not to be a burden to my pastors. It can behoove all of us, I think, to reflect on how we can serve our churches rather than primarily asking them to serve us and our personal desires.
Exhortation like that of Driscoll, of course, can do much to create a culture in which the leaders love the people, the people love the leaders, and each group seeks to outdo the other in serving one another in the name of Christ.
(Photo: Adrian Schoonmaker)