Last week I read in Church Volunteer Central a story about how volunteers in churches need to feel value in what they do. In the article a psychological experiment that had been conducted was applied. They wrote:
A psychologist at Stanford University did a little research project. He hired a man as a logger. However, instead of asking him to chop wood, he told him to hit the same log over and over with the blunt end of the ax. He would even pay double the amount he would receive for actually chopping down trees. Sounds like a great deal, right?
Well, the man quit after just a few hours. As he left, he told the researcher, “I have to see chips fly. Otherwise, it’s no fun!” In other words, he needed to see the value in his work, that he was actually making a difference.
That story and their conclusion resonated with me. There are a lot of days that I year not see what I’ve done at the end of the day to measure against the effort I’ve extended. When I do projects around the house, it’s the ones that I can stand back and look at when everything is over that give me the greatest satisfaction. Seeing the results of my labor is gratifying. I like to see the chips fly!
As I think about that story, I wonder how it applies to our spiritual lives. I think most of us like to have a sense that we are making some kind of progress. As a leader in the church, I become concerned when people stagnate or even give up on their spiritual growth. This study made me wonder if one of the enemies of our growth is either stagnation or a feeling of futility.
It has caused me to ask myself, “What are the ‘chips’ for me spiritually? What are the signs I look for that my efforts to know God and become more like His son are really bearing fruit?” Spend a few minutes today thinking about the evidence of the Holy Spirit in your life. Give God thanks for those things that are signs God is working in you. Those are the things that make walking with Christ an encouragement. They also help us keep going when we face resistance.
One of the values of small groups and close relationship is that we can help one another see how God is at work in our lives. When others reflect the changes in us, it encourages and reminds us that the chips really are flying. Think about how you’ve seen God at work in another–share it with them. Help them see that you know they are growing in Christ. It is part of what we can do for one another.