Saturday, January 23, 2010

Stepping In

My sister-in-law and I were comparing notes about the things we do at church. We're both old hands at church life, and in addition to being involved in official ways --- serving on committees, singing in the choir, holding office, and the like --- we also find ourselves stepping in when we see things that need to be done that no one else is doing: watering flowers, washing choir robes, dusting pews, putting fresh water in the baptismal font, turning on the coffee maker.

I've been thinking about this, and wonder if we see the things that are amiss because we've been keeping house for a long time, no longer have kids to distract us, and are still physically able. Is this a phenomenon that happens to women of a certain age? (To be fair, there are men that take care of small repairs around the church, change light bulbs, carry out trash, mow the lawn, and the like.)

However, I'm getting tired of doing these things and am beginning to realize that feeling put-upon is a consequence of competence. If I continue to take care of these little tasks, and do them easily and well, no one else will bother to pitch-in. A good example are the potted poinsettias people donate at Christmas to decorate the church. They require almost daily maintenance --- too much water and they rot, too little water and they droop, and even with just the right amount of water, they continually drop leaves and bracts. In the past, I've made a special trip to church once or twice during the week to take care of these exacting plants. This year I ignored them and several people murmurred, "What happened to the poinsettias?" In the next Worship Committee Meeting, I'll suggest that if we want to have flowers, someone needs to be in charge of them.

When I was younger, I wondered why some of the older women who didn't work, didn't have kids at home, and were still active didn't volunteer for jobs at church. Now I know; they're tired of stepping in and they're leaving it someone else. Now I, too, am ready to retire from stepping in.


Blogger cda said...

Love that phrase "consequence of competence." I think it's true—for those of us who aren't social loafers. Was it hard to not take care of the poinsettias? That's the problem I tend to have with stepping back.... I almost spend more effort not doing the task than doing it, and then it's hard to even remember the original sense of being put out.

Always enjoy your posts, Jill!

8:37 PM  
Anonymous オテモヤン said...


5:33 PM  

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