In a conversation last night, I was reminded of some difficulty I have in trusting church members. We have done outside business with members of our previous congregation and gotten burned before – confidentiallity wasn’t kept, or we received enormous bills after people got upset with things at church (despite offering to do the work for free). So needless to say, we’re a little hesitant to accept gifts of service from congregational members.
It’s not like every instance has been bad. At our last house, we had members help us with all kinds of repairs and updates. Some we had to pay for materials (understandably), some were minor fix-it jobs that we just didn’t know how to handle. At this church, we’ve already received offers for financial advising, painting, and dog-sitting (not to mention the car that was loaned to us while we were in the process of moving and the home we stayed in waiting to close on our house). On the other hand, it’s a mutual-help situation, which the church should participate in with everyone. We have dog-sat, been asked to house-sit (it conflicting with the dog-sitting), and of course, the ongoing presence that is part of my husband’s job but goes above and beyond (such as dinners & parties, church events for the community, and walking with people through the hurts of life).
At times I have felt guilty for receiving the “free” things. After all, we’re not destitute. Others less fortunate than us could certainly use the gifts more. But I know that it comes from a grateful heart, wanting to give back to their spiritual leader. For that I am thankful.