15. Hearts vs Hands

This post will deal with something I’ve discussed recently, regarding what us Christians should have when it comes to leading and serving; perhaps for leading more, since serving can be done by anyone. The simple intro to this topic goes like this: When we pick our leaders, what do we consider to be more important, the hearts or the hands? That is, do we regard their attitudes (heart) or their skills (hands) to be more significant as a criteria for choosing leaders?


To explain a little further, when we refer to attitudes, I guess we’re thinking about whether that person has a heart that is willing to serve and put their all into loving and serving those under their care. Actually, now that I think about it, a good way to think about all of this is a meter (eg: a fuel meter) that measures your ability. Your attitude determines how much percentage of your ability you will use (note that it’s “percentage”). Whereas, skills would measure how large your ability meter is. Translating this into numbers to give an example, suppose person A had an attitude rating of 50% (they’re half-hearted) and has a skill rating of 200 (units of skills). Then their output of ability would be 200 x 50% = 100 units of skills. And then you could have person B who has an attitude rating of 100% (they really want to serve with their all) but only has a skill rating of 75. Then their output is 75 x 100% = 75 units of skills.


Of course, the above is just a simplification of the issue. At the end of the day, we want our leaders to be proficient in both (to have a strong desire to serve, and a lot of ability to do so). The last time I’ve looked into this issue, the general consensus of the people around me thought that having a heart to serve was most important, and more important than the skills that they have. And that’s fair; using my mathematical metaphor from above, having either a strong heart or a strong skill wouldn’t make a difference in the output and so using that we can still accept that the heart is more important.


However, I think we only try to make this choice between hearts and hands only when the people we have to choose from only have one or the other. That is, they either are very keen as Christians to serve but don’t know how to do anything, or they’re very skilled but don’t really have any motivation to serve as Christians. I somehow think that we need to reverse the order of what’s important in picking leaders when we’re picking from people who have both hearts and hands (not perfect in either field of course, but relatively high). I won’t use my mathematical method for this because it obviously won’t apply well in real life. So let me try to give my view through words.


Although today we’re encouraging every Christian to develop a heart to lead and serve, sometimes it seems the people we pick to do things are not well trained in terms of their skills. I haven’t said it but we already know the consequences of such choices: the thing we’ve assigned them to do fails to an extent because they don’t have the necessary skills to bring their task up to standard. I’d like to explore the consequences more in detail.


One large example that hits very close to home goes like this: in general picking “lesser-skilled” people to do certain things leads them to doing it at the very last minute because they’re forced to produce something; I guess we call this a last minute adrenaline rush. The first thing to note here is that people who are “rushed” for time in doing something would be considered as “very busy” to the point of stressing out. And what happens with that? The people around that “lesser-skilled” person will feel sympathy for that person and be gracious and kind to that person for that period of time while they’re stressing. However, in hind sight, if that person knew what they were doing, they would not be stressing in the first place. Normally we expect people to get things done comfortably on time, we don’t want people stressing out hard otherwise no-one would want to do it. And so really, this “sympathy” we give to that person really is considered to be “grace”. They clearly don’t deserve it because they didn’t have the skill to do their task, though we had expected them to be able to, as should themselves when they first agreed to do it.


I tend to feel that this becomes a publicity stunt (though not intentional), where you’re simply getting sympathy from others because of your own failings. But yes, you’d be right in saying that it’s the kind and helpful thing to do because things outside our control often happen to people that cause them to become stressed, that’s a part of life I know. However, I think we also have an alternative reaction to these people; and that is to rebuke them and I guess give them advice on what they can do better in the future. It’s like this: you have a friend who failed a test because they hadn’t studied enough. And so you feel sorry for that person and try to comfort them, etc. But then you learn that the reason they didn’t study enough was not because they didn’t have enough time (from something out of their control) but that they were simply too addicted to playing games or Facebook. Do you still feel sorry for that person? Of course not. You’d rebuke them and tell them not to play games when they should be studying. I guess this scenario closely mirrors people who leaves things to the last minute (because of their lack of skill in knowing what to do or actually doing it) and so really they foolishly wasted time when they could’ve tried to do it, or ask people for help.


I’m not saying that we don’t feel sorry for the people who have purposely placed themselves in a bad position, knowing that it is entirely their fault (as harsh as that sounds). However I feel that we should be indifferent in whether we’re graceful or not as sometimes in order to encourage others we need to be a bit firm and strict with our words, since clearly rebuking others (if done in a mild manner) will teach them what to better do in the future. So the above couple of paragraphs dealt with the consequence of the “sympathy” thing.


Another consequence of lesser skilled people leaving things to the last minute is that it hooks the skilled people into helping those who are in need. Yes of course helping others is a good thing but if it’s done at the last minute sometimes it bring stress to other people. Remember how I talked about random emergencies out of our control that cause us to become stressed, well this would be an example of one of those emergencies which makes the skilled helpers stressed because of the time constraint. The skilled helpers are obliged to help because the task would be a common goal that us Christians want to reach (eg: organising a camp or retreat). This simply causes more trouble for more people because now more people are involved in the problem.


The inefficiency of the whole ordeal is that it’s a problem that can be avoided if only better skilled people were chosen to do the task. I guess if you were given the choice of being to avoid a problem and the stress that comes with it, you’d choose to avoid it rather than to take on the problem; it’s more common sense from a broader perspective. Of course from a Christian perspective, sometimes we’d want to pick lesser skilled people to do the task because we want to train up their skills to do it better in the future. In that case, would it then not be wiser to choose those lesser skilled people and then put the better skilled people as like supervisors. Yes that takes up more resources but now there’s this additional goal called “training” and to the people resources are well spent. But even if this is not the case, the lesser skilled people who realise that they can’t get something done comfortably should at least ask people for help. Again why face problems when you can avoid them in a safe manner; it’s not wrong to ask for help. Sometimes it’s actually considered to be strength to admit your weaknesses.


My answer to this last point about why lesser skilled people don’t ask for help is that it might be to do with pride. Prideful people are not going to ask anyone for help, even if they are going to face a large pile of problems; that’s just the way humans work. But then in some sense that’s also an attitude thing; people who are keen in serving and being a leader should also learn to be humble and admit their weaknesses. So I guess somehow right here I’ve provided a bit more evidence that shows that the heart is quite important. But I hope after this I’ve given some fair points to show that our hands in Christian ministry are also something we need to consider carefully.


One thought on “15. Hearts vs Hands

  1. Sup jas, excellent, agree with ya. it makes sense that since God gave us all spiritual gifts for service, there must be some things which we are more suited to than others. however i still believe that you wont know you “skills” or “hands” until you try it. i think thats why even though hands are important the heart is more critical. Also i reckon its important to say that if someone is entering service with a 50% commitment, not onli is that not helpful for them, its dangerous. sooner or later, you’ll get sick of the “chores” and it will drain you.

    the thing is, what happens if there is someone with 200 skill and 50% commitment, knowing they can get the job done.. do you get them or not. dunno. surely god can still use them to spread his gospel but its probably not helpful to them..

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