What do you mean I can’t DO ANYTHING?! Matthean anxiety and what to DO about it

April 17th, 2020
This article is featured in the Growing Spiritually issue of Ministry During The Pandemic

Editor's note: This article is part of a series of articles from the author related to the release of Gospel Discipleship: Participant Guide and Gospel Discipleship: Congregation Guide (Abingdon Press, 2020). Read previous posts here and follow the month-long digital release party on Facebook.

“Therefore, go…” (Matthew 28:19a, CEB translation)

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I feel right now like my whole body is full of kinetic energy, like I want to just take off running. In fact, on some level, I feel like I am running, except I am running behind my own life, which is taking off without me right now. I don’t like this. Such movement is not my style. I am much more of a sit back and take things in first kind of person.

That being said, though, there are people in my life who like to take action. They are Mattheans: the disciples who like for their faith to be expressed in concrete things checked off the list, people have been fed and clothed and bandaged up, kind of ways. The Mattheans around me are spinning. They are in more of a tizzy than I am. Why? Because in reality, they have actually been told not to take action. They have been told to stop.

Oh, I am feeling for my Matthean friends right now. We all have our anxieties to confront in this COVID-19 reality, but to be told to stay home and basically wait this out? Uh uh. That is not how Mattheans work. At all.

Gospel Discipleship uses the lens of the last words Jesus speaks in each Gospel to illuminate the discipleship types, and the first of the last words of instruction that Jesus gives in Matthew is “Go!” And now they are told to stay. This is madness for Mattheans.

"Gospel Discipleship: Participant Guide" by Michelle J. Morris. Order here: https://bit.ly/GospelDiscipleshipParticipant

In a time when there is tremendous need, Mattheans spring into action. If there’s a need to be met, Mattheans will meet it. Mattheans are the ones who would tear the roof off a house and lower their friend down to meet Jesus. These are not people who sit quietly in the corner when there is a crisis. They help. They fix. They mend. They sow. They do not quarantine quietly in the corner.

If Mattheans don’t have something constructive to do, they will figure out something to do anyway. So why not recognize that and put it to good work?

And honestly, plenty of churches are. There are still people who need to be fed. In fact, with schools shut down and free lunches restricted, there are more to be fed than usual. Many churches are stepping into the gap. Some are allowing drive thru pick ups of meals, some are driving meals to people. People are also checking in on neighbors, going to the grocery store for others or picking up medicine. There are still a number of ways to make a concrete difference, and more of those will unfold. There are still actions to take, they just have to take place in new ways. And churches are still worshipping, just virtually. So if you want to help and you have some hidden skills playing the piano or want to help with the livestream by running the technology, that is an action that makes a difference.

But if you are in the vulnerable age group or are vulnerable due to health conditions, or if you have any hint of exposure or symptoms, you need to sit out the contact mission on this one. But again, that doesn’t mean you can’t help. Why not write a letter to someone you know in the nursing home? Or help your pastor with organization plans. Or recognize that you can take care of you, and that matters, too. If your action is you focused, like taking care of some of those to-do’s around your own house, then you are still caring for the Christian community. You could also take this time to watch some how-to videos on YouTube and cultivate a new skill that you can use when this is all said and done. You are keeping you safe so that when we are past this, you will still be with us to live your life in service to Christ.

And remember, too, that Mattheans tend to struggle with exhaustion from overdoing. It is possible, depending on your job, that you have just been given a sabbath. Please take it! Also, depending on your job, you may have just also become someone who needs help. That is a difficult pill for most Mattheans to swallow. But if you do need help, please let us help you. It is a chance for us to live out our discipleship. There is no shame here; this is an emergency situation. If we all pull together, we will get past this.

So do the good Matthean thing: Make yourself a list of the things you can do. Focus on that. Check those things off your list and celebrate the new ways we are figuring out to serve our world. Take the actions you can take, and then rest up. There will be much to do on the other side of these isolated days.

Wondering if you are Matthean? Or sure you aren’t but wonder what you are? Take the Gospel Discipleship assessment at https://www.ministrymatters.com/gospeldiscipleship.

What Do You Mean I Can’t DO ANYTHING?!?!?! (Matthean Anxiety And What To DO About It) originally appeared at GospelDiscipleship.net. Reprinted with permission.

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