Woe is Me
Originally published in Church Production Magazine, March 2014.
Anyone who knows me may think I’ve lost it but here goes…Does anyone remember Winnie-the-Pooh? Yes, I’m starting this article with a serious question about a children’s book. I have some vague memories of Winnie-the-Pooh but I’ll be honest, even as a child, I found a bear wearing just a shirt and no pants sort of creepy. Actually, WAY creepy.
But for this discussion, let’s take a look at Winnie’s compatriot Eeyore, the donkey everyone seemed to enjoy pinning a tail on. Have you ever noted just how much of a pessimist Eeyore was? In fact, he should be crowned the king pessimist. I delved a little deeper into this Eeyore guy and this is what Wikipedia said:
“Eeyore is a character in the Winnie-the-Pooh books by A. A. Milne. He is generally characterized as a pessimistic, gloomy, depressed, anhedonic, old grey stuffed donkey…”.
Wow, anhedonic? Anhedonic is quite the word. In fact, Webster’s defines anhedonic as ”an inability to experience pleasure.” Hmm, inability to experience pleasure—that got me thinking just a bit.
I feel like I know this Eeyore. In fact, I feel like I know quite a few Eeyores. Since transitioning twelve years ago from production on the road to production in the church, I’ve come in contact with more Eeyore personality types than I ever thought possible. And you know what? Most of them were involved in the production and technical side of things. How in the world did they get into a fraternity I happen to love?
Eeyore has what I’ve come to call the “Woe Is Me” outlook. See if any of these sound familiar:
- Don’t they know how long I was here last night?
- If they’d just give me a budget, I could fix this issue.
- I guess it’s good enough for a church.
- I told you so but no one ever listens to me!
- I’d work harder if someone would say thank you.
- Let me tell you how long I was here last week.
- You want me to do what?
- Everything sucks.
All these are sayings I’ve heard since being around churches. Now of course, I’m generalizing terribly but I think it’s still a great point for all us to consider.
Allow me to pin the tail on the backside of the church Eeyore and say there is absolutely no place in the church for this Woe Is Me doctrine. This mentality is convenient to succumb to for several reasons—It’s SO easy to get others to feel sorry for us because of some long work hours around a big holiday production. Or to lament with us about how our particular part in a huge project wasn’t even noted by anyone. Or maybe no one acknowledged how it was our idea that saved the day during the last crisis. You know what, ALL of those may be absolutely true. But here’s the deal: I’ll wager a bet that none of us had a gun put to our head to be involved in church production. In fact, at some point, most of us went into this willingly.
Far be it from me to suggest that things are always perfect in the church production world. Sometimes it’s actually very, very far from perfect. There are few jobs that have a relentless schedule every single week out of the year like the church does, but you know what? The local church is THE hope of the world. Think about it, we as technical artists get the privilege of being a part of something great! That reality is the absolute best thing about what I do. God thought enough of ME, a flawed and imperfect dude with problems and issues like everyone else, to have a membership in one of the highest callings. Getting to play a part in communicating God’s message that can quite literally change lives—please show me what’s not to like! When involved in something of this magnitude, how can I be Eeyore? Woe Is Me? No thanks, please go sell crazy somewhere else.
Even on the days when it really does feel like someone is pinning a tail onto MY backside, God still needs my help. He needs me to have a good attitude. He needs me to be helpful. He needs me to be supportive. He needs me to be caring. He really needs me to not be a jerk. All that? Seriously? Even when I’m weary and beat up? You better believe it—ESPECIALLY then because when I’m at my weakest, God is at His strongest. I ran across this scripture recently that sums up this sentiment in a great way for anyone involved in the technical side of things:
“Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.”
Colossians 3:22–25 (MSG)
This verse is an encouragement to us as production people. An awesome reminder that we do this for a much higher purpose than for worldly riches or a pat on the back. God knows the hours. He knows the sacrifice, the time spent away from home and family. He knows it’s a thankless job sometimes, a forgotten job other times. But He is there to renew our strength and to give us what we need to continue serving His church. Be renewed today that you are part of an exciting facet of God’s work in people’s lives. As for the Eeyore thing…come on, that’s just a character in a children’s book, right?