As a Christian…

As a Christian…

It started with an email. She said she had picked up my business card from an art exhibit I had done a while back, and wanted to “talk to me about my needs” for financial planning.

A sales email. But it ended in a way that has begun to bother me. It said, “As a Christian…” and then listed reasons I should meet with her, including “shared values” and having “so much in common.”

I get lots of these emails. In fact, I get lots of requests, and while I am happy to network and help people, I have grown sensitive to being told how and when I should help people or buy things because I’m a Christian. The fact that it is other Christians doing this is especially worrying to me.

I volunteer. I help people. But I find that there are some of my brothers and sisters in Christ who tell me how to act and follow it up with the fact that “I’m a Christian.” And this is not the “irons sharpens iron” kind of suggestion a friend would give.

I was going to hit delete on the email, and looking back, I should have done just that. Instead, I responded, saying I didn’t think it was cool that she had taken my business card to sell me something, and asked that she not contact me again.

She responded by saying she wasn’t selling me anything, what she was doing was trying to “find out my needs” because all her clients are friends and we would become friends because she thought that, “as Christians we had so much in common” but she realized that obviously we didn’t share the same values and gave me advice that from now on, I “should be kinder to people who contact you” and signed her note, “God bless.”

Wow.

This was not going to a good place. I imagine the devil had a nice big laugh at our emails, two Christian women totally not communicating in a positive way. While this girl did not handle the situation well, neither did I. Every time I have a frustrating exchange like this, I pray and try to reflect, and what most bothered me most was how I had handled it.

First, I should have prayed about it. The very first thing I should have done is ask for God’s guidance on how to proceed.

Based on what I received from the Holy Spirit, I should have either ignored the note or simply said no thank you.

And then I realized, in the past when I had done that, it had not worked out well, either. When I ignore those emails and hit delete I get another email asking why I’m not responding. When I say no, I get the “but as a Christian, you should…” type of response.

 

 

An example:

A Christian acquaintance noticed I updated my website and asked me about it. I told her I have very limited skills with this, bought a template, and then spent hours and hours trying to figure out my minor updates. Ha! But I did it. So she said she knew a guy who needed a website built from scratch and she would send him my way. I repeated that I didn’t have the skills to build a website. In fact, I was proud of myself that I had learned to do the updates I needed to do.

Her response: “As a Christian woman, I feel I should help people. I guess you don’t feel that way.”

 

Another example:

I received a request to donate art for a book project. I was not comfortable with the amount of images and detail required for this specific project and after giving it some thought I politely declined. The response I got was: “I was told you were a Christian so you would understand how important this project is.”

I did not tell her that in reflecting on this project, I wasn’t called to it myself. But perhaps I should have said that. Instead, I let her final jab about me being a “bad Christian” go without retort.

 

 

Going back to the original email I received about “my financial needs,” what bothered me most was that she was using the fact that I was a Christian as a selling point. If she was a non-Christian and tried to do this, I would forgive instantly. So why didn’t I forgive as quickly with her, as another Christian?

I realized how very sensitive I have become to this issue. I get a lot of requests like this from people and sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed. But when I have an uncomfortable exchange, I also know this is an area where I have to grow. If I had handled the first email properly, I would have felt better even if I got a snippy note in return. (In theory.) But in just telling her it “wasn’t cool” that she was contacting me out of the blue without knowing a thing about me I opened up the path to negativity.

The reality is that I get lots of requests now because people think of me (I think) as someone that can help. So I should be comforted by that, because it is a blessing. But the downside is that I can’t always say yes.

I need to work on being too sensitive to people who give me those snarky responses of “as a Christian woman, I thought you would” and instead pray for them. Obviously, they are feeling some degree of sensitivity, too. We’re all just trying to do our best. And what it always comes back to is going to God first and asking the Holy Spirit to guide my answer.

 

 

Be Sociable, Share!
Cherie Burbach About Cherie Burbach

Cherie Burbach is the founder of Putting on the New. She is a poet, mixed media artist, and freelance writer. She’s written for About.com, NBC/Universal, Match.com, Christianity Today, and more. Her latest book is: Art and Faith: Mixed Media Art With a Faith-Filled Message. For more, check out her website.

Comments

  1. Bettilu Davies says:

    I accepted the Lord as a young child and grew up in a Christian home. Many times over the years if I slipped or even just irritated someone, I heard, “And you call yourself a Christian.” Sometimes people hold us up to a higher standard, and we accept it, because they are guilting us. Yes, we should be careful to live as Chris tells us to, but we shouldn’t allow others to use our faith as a hammer to hurt us. Yes, we should pray for them. Yes, we should accept correction, but not hurt ourselves by guilt which is undeserved. Ask forgiveness when we are wrong, but go on, trusting God to help us in the future.

    [Reply]

  2. Such great points, Bettilu. We all want to do a great job for Christ but we shouldn’t let guilt be our guide.

    [Reply]

  3. I feel the same way about some Christian ministries calling on the phone asking for donations when I don’t even know how I got on their list. If I say , “No, thank you,” I am made to feel like I am rejecting a ministry that helps people. They give me the same feeling a telemarketer does when they call. We give to lots of ministries but we can’t give to everything that is out there and just because they call and ask for money doesn’t mean I feel led to give to them.

    [Reply]

  4. These situations remind me of a juggling act on a tightrope! Yes, we have skills, but we can only juggle so many of them at a time. And responding in a way that says no but still shows love is that high-wire balancing act!
    When I need to say no to a person’s request, I’ve learned to explain my balancing act and how many balls I’m already juggling, such as: after committing to other good causes, my budget doesn’t allow adding another. Most people understand and accept my explanation.

    [Reply]

  5. That’s probably the biggest takeaway for me, Barbara and you make such a good point. There are so many good charities and we have to search our hearts and see which ones God is calling us to support.

    [Reply]

Speak Your Mind

*