The Martyr Complex
Written by T. M. Suffield |
Saturday, April 15, 2023
Essentially, dear sweet people who love Jesus very much think it’s Godly to absolutely crush themselves with responsibilities in and around the church community. It isn’t. Please stop it. This might be motivated by a desire to ‘work’ our salvation or to ‘strive’ towards Jesus. It might be motivated by a sense that we’re supposed to kill ourselves for Jesus (no, we’re meant to kill our selves—harder but less hard work). I think most of the time it’s neither, it’s more likely that they’re good hearted people who take on more bit by bit over time and don’t think it’s OK to say “no” to something.
So often I meet people in churches I’ve been involved in or from elsewhere who are working incredibly hard for Jesus. It’s laudable but it rarely looks to me like the Way of Jesus.
Jesus taught a way of ease, with kind yokes and light burdens (Matthew 11). We should be disciplined (1 Corinthians 9), but we shouldn’t be driving ourselves into the ground.
So often I meet people in churches I’ve been involved in or from elsewhere who are drifting for Jesus. It’s distressing, but I wonder if the church has really done very much to help them get away from it.
Stop Being Martyrs
I think that one of the reasons some people are drifting and others are driving themselves into the ground is because the overworked don’t ask those with no discipline to do anything.
I understand why, ‘ask a busy person if you want something done,’ the business proverb goes. It’s true too, as anyone who has led people knows. They’re competent and do things well and it’s all straightforward. Great, but those aren’t values of the Kingdom. I love it when everything in my church is done really well, why wouldn’t I? But when that gets in the way of asking something else to do anything it’s not a good desire. It’s actually my sinful desire for perfection and it needs to get in the bin.
I don’t think the only problem is that the leaders won’t ask them to do things, they don’t ask because it’s easier to ask the same old people. Which isn’t good, but why do those same old people keep saying, “yes!” with such (fake) enthusiasm? I think it’s because they’re martyrs.
This is especially prevalent in people who helped to plant a church or are on staff, but it can appear wider than that. Essentially, dear sweet people who love Jesus very much think it’s Godly to absolutely crush themselves with responsibilities in and around the church community. It isn’t.