Yeah--I know you see bees around this article, and there's a good reason for that. I actually got my inspiration when my daughter was completing a research paper on Africanized Bees. I know it might be hard to find a relationship between serving in God's kingdom and Africanized Bees, but just keep reading.
I know you remember that day when you either got a call, signed up on a volunteer list, or simply stepped out in faith to serve God's people. If you were anything like me it's like feeling that somehow in this enormous world, God actually carved out a moment in time to designate you to do something for Him. Taking those first steps of service may have included nervousness, smiles, prayer, and wanting to somehow find a way to put your gratitude for the opportunity to serve into words.
The honeymoon phase (as I like to call it) is such an effortless, unbelievable experience because in addition to serving God, you simultaneously are growing in your love for Jesus. You are connecting with "The Cross" on a deeper level and trying to humanly understand everything that Jesus did for you through all the torture He endured just because He loved you. The other thing about the honeymoon phase is that eventually that unbelievable experience will take effort to maintain, because serving God's people will and does come with many known and unknown sacrifices. You will encounter obstacles, challenges, and even people who will make you want to quit serving. Oh, boy, you wait until you run into one of the biggest momentum busters when you encounter obstacles and challenges coming from other Christians who should know better, but they don't. That's right you heard me other Christians trying to present obstacles and challenges to keep you from serving. You gotta be kidding me you might be thinking. Well no I'm not, because it's unfortunately true sometimes. There are Christians who are serving God with smiles on their faces, who might be praying for others, organizing church events, and leading ministries who are hurting other Christians. In other words, they are stinging people while serving.
During my daughter's research time, I learned more about Africanized Bees than I needed too. Did you know that in 1957, some Africanized Bees were exported from Africa into Brazil which eventually spread to the southwest region of the United States toward Central America to help increase honey production. However, instead of helping the honey production, Africanized Bees actually decreased the honey supply as well as deranging the domestic honeybees. Africanized Bees are smaller in appearance, but tend to have a more defensive behavior and can sting intruders in large numbers. Africanized Bees compete with other bee species for nectar which allows them to displace other bees. The alternative name for Africanized Bees is "killer bees", because they can cause a huge threat and are known to chase a person away for up to one mile with the intent of stinging them until death. They have killed thousands of animals as well as approximately 1,000 humans as a result of their stings. So as you can see, a lot of adjectives can be used to describe Africanized Bees like defensiveness, displacement, killing, stinging, and threatening. Sometimes when Christians serve and their motives are not right, they can become defensive, feel displaced, take on a killer attitude to protect what's theirs, lash out and sting anyone or anything they believe is in their way all because they feel threatened by change or new people. So let's take a look at a few "bee" types that can be found while serving.
HONEY "Bees": Like any bees including Africanized Bees, honey has an essential purpose in the hive. Its sweetness can be converted into many different food sources and serves to be an enhancer. When and if you get an opportunity to serve with someone like this, you will ALWAYS look forward to showing up and serving. Their presence is always warm, loving, and a reminder of the gentleness of Jesus. They aren't looking for accolades or trying to advance their own agendas. They just want to serve and spread joy. Honey "bees" just want to advance God's kingdom!
BUSY "Bees": Bee colonies can contain approximately 50,000 bees or more, so you know there's a lot going on all the time with a unified purpose to protect the hive and generate honey. You are most certain to find a few people who are just busy serving. Every day of the week and every time the church doors are open, they are serving. Sometimes in the same service area and sometimes not. People like this always make me go Hmmmm..., because I'm constantly thinking when do they take time to worship and spend time with God? Do they think the amount of time they serve is going to get them "brownie" points with God? These people can be easily spotted, because they do what they do so much they can do it in their sleep. I often wonder if they sense their purpose anymore? When was the last time they checked in with God to see if He still wants them to do what they are doing? I think another head scatcher with this is when you see busy "bee" couples. I'm forever amazed how they come to church together, go their separate ways as soon as they enter the church, go perform their service duty, and never, I repeat, never can be seen sitting together or even reading their Bibles together. How about holding hands (now that's a clencher) and worshipping together? Yet somehow they are busy serving. Nobody can serve or lead in everything. Everybody who serves also needs time to sit and receive God's word!
TERRITORIAL "Bees": This is a "juicy" one, because sometimes people who turn out to be territorial in their service are usually sincere people who are sincerely wrong. I'm thinking the likely culprit in making a person feel that they personally own a ministry, a team of people, a church, or even a particular organized event must be rooted in the fact that they have been serving the same way for so long that they feel like it's theirs to keep. Territorial "bees" are usually extremely resistant to overall change and particularly in their specific areas of service. They believe no one, even in a senior leadership role, has a right to propose change in their area of service wthout their permission first. They almost immediately oppose new people as well, and only associate themselves with their clique. The words coming out their mouthes to others are laced in all the right Jesus sayings when you talk to them, but deep down they have lost sight of the fact that it ALL belongs to God! If you have territorial "bee" tendencies you need to know that regardless of the fact that you have been serving in a particular area for 1, 5, 15, or even 25 years, it doesn't belong to you. This bares repeating----it doesn't belong to you----it doesn't belong to you and you don't own it!
WISE "Bees": I love wise "bees", because people who are wise in their service are constantly very helpful, are usually older in age and are looking to pour into the younger generations, and have seen a lot of good and bad things happen and yet they are still standing. They usually don't have egos or insecurities when it comes to why they are serving. Matter of fact, they will serve, unnoticed, until they no longer have breath in their bodies. Which is why often times wise "bees" need to hear from their senior leadership that it's okay to rest. Wise "bees" are also very loyal. If they let it be known that they want to "step away" or as some would say "step down" from their service positions because they have been so loyal for so many years, it's up to their senior leadership to honor their request. If you tell a loyal servant you need them to continue serving, they will do it out of their loyalty. No senior leader is doing wise "bees" any favors by asking them to keep serving when they have expressed otherwise. It's kinda of selfish really. Senior leaders must be wise----senior leaders must listen, listen, listen, listen to what is spoken and unspoken when it comes to wise "bees".
ROUTINE "Bees": I'm actually not big on seeing the same movie over and over again, but as I have matured I see why some people do it. So although it's not my "thing", some people feel more in control when they do the same thing the same way over and over again. Routine "bees" are usually in a position of leadership. They have grown extremely comfortable in what they do and have lost their creative zeal. You will most often find routine "bees" are not interested in doing anything that requires effort on their part. They will run ministries and organize events the same way all the time. They are ususally geographically restricted in that they are willing to keep up their routine as long as its convenient for them. If something new is introduced, epsecially if it requires effort on their part, it's ususally seen as non-biblical as a way to cover up their not wanting to do it or it's just immediately flat out rejected. A routine "bee" constantly needs to do things the same way month after month--January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December--which ends up suffocating ministries and stifling ministry growth. Sometimes routine "bees" need to be replaced not only for their own good, but for the good of the entire group or organization.
GLAM "Bees": Yep----it's just what it sounds like----GLAMOUR! Glam "bees" like the spotlight. Glam "bees" usually don't want any hinderances to their ability to be outfront and upfront. They expect everyone else around them to cater to what they need so that they can be in the spotlight as they serve God. If you get too close to the glam "bees" they will step on you, belittle your service, complain about you, and even get mad at you if it affects their ability to be center stage. Glam "bees" do not make serving Jesus attractive to others. Matter of fact, their disruptive behavior turns people away from Jesus!
HUNGRY "Bees": I think it's all our duties to feed the hungry "bees". They are usually people who are new to Jesus and new to serving. They want to not just do the right thing, but they also want to do right by Jesus. We all have a responsibility to help shape the hungry "bees". We all have a responsibility to not run the hungry "bees" away, because they don't look like us, dress like us, or serve like us. I personally think the biggest disservice a mature Christian can do to anyone, especially hungry "bees", is to reject them.
NOSEY "Bees": I love this one too, because nosey "bees" usually have created this imaginery universe in their heads that they must be in the "knowing", and it's their Chrisitian duty to spy. I am assuming that nosey "bees" must have a TON of time on their hands to be able to keep up with all the news and drama that is constantly flowing in churches, ministries, and organizations. I guess the million dollar word is WHY? Is it an element of self-importance? I guess I live under the notion if something is my business, God will bring it to my attention and that I wouldn't need to be constantly looking and spying. If you are a nosey "bee", STOP IT! There is a reason certain things are none of your business, so stop trying to inject yourself into situations. If you need to know something, trust me God will bring it to your attention!
I can go on for days identifying the differnt types of "bees", but I won't. As I mentioned before, serving God should not be a one time unbelievable experience, it should be this way all the time. To keep your momentum going, you must be willing to change and be flexible for Jesus. What God is doing through your service to bless someone else's life should be the only center stage ALL THE TIME. Sometimes you will need your senior leadership to make training available to you outside the organization to help keep your momentum going, so speak up. If you are part of an organization who only makes outside training available to a few "special" people and it's not shared and communicated to help others to grow, you better rethink your relationship with this organization.
I have been called and labeled as unforgiving, bitter, hurt, and my all time favorite is offended, because I expected more, pointed wrongful things out, and refused to settle for medicority. I am and will always be a firm believer that when you serve God, serve Him with a spirit of excellency even when you are surrounded with complacency. When you know your service has caused a problem or has hurt other people, don't blame the devil. Sometimes Christians have a habit of blaming the devil for their intentional, hurtful acts. If you did something wrong, own it and fix it! I can tell you if you've read this article and if one or more of the "bees" applies to you that the beauty of God's grace is designed to allow you another chance especially when you know you don't deserve it.
Like the QUEEN "Bee", all "bees" serving in the kingdom of God need at least one senior leader who provides them the guidance they need. They need to be in a creative environment that shapes and molds the gifts and talents that God has given them. Serving God's people must include raising up the next generation, because death doesn't discriminate and none of us will be on this earth forever. No church or organization should die off when the leaders and/or founder dies. If you are a senior leader, you have a responsibility to not allow complacency or being afraid to make the necessary changes so that the people can flourish. A few killer "bees" shouldn't ruin everything for everybody else. A senior leader must not be passive in fixing matters when God has already given them the authority and position of influence to do it. As a leader, you are required to not create "bubbles for a few special people". You are required to take the vision God has given you to serve His people not just inside but outside the four walls of your building. Last but not least, for God's sake, try something new and different. There are some people inside your organization who have a trillion ideas that get implemented for three weeks and then the idea dies because they never follow through with their own ideas, so don't be afraid to partner with other organizations who are more experienced in areas you are weak and can show you how to do things better.
I hope this article has blessed your life and serves to encourage anyone wanting to quit, are tired, or feel what they bring to the table is irrelevant. Don't ever let people run you off with their "deadly bee" stings. However, be flexible in case God decides to move you to another organization, because He knows your service, gifts, and talents will never be accepted at your present organization. God never wants your flames to be put out, because of the constant insecurities of others who will not exercise their free will to change. The only serving fight I hope you never participate in is fighting with those who are determined to keep things the same, because fighting peple like this is exhausting and limits your ability to be effective for God. Change must be intentional. Also, take it from me don't accept mediocrity or complacency when it comes to serving God with a spirit of excellency. Remember God and only God equips you to serve, and He expects you to remember to NEVER serve youself BUT only Him. A lesson for all of us is to "bee" servants only unto God and not man!