Why isn’t dedication a character trait that’s blasé anymore?
Instead it’s celebrated. Really, I’m torn as to whether that’s a very good thing or something that should be so normalized that we don’t blink at it. Shouldn’t it be something that we consider blasé? (That’s where I land usually, apparently.)
We totally need to celebrate dedication like the kind that Gabby Douglas, my newest hero, has in spades. (That smile could topple fortified walls of hate. Right?!?)
I feel like dedication is a character trait people make a big deal over. But it shouldn’t be. From baseball players to normal jobs, it seems like people don’t stay in one place too long anymore. Unhappy situations, bigger pay, greener grass. These aren’t always bad reasons to leave for somewhere else. But, this gets applied to how people approach belonging to a Church, too. People jump ship from church to church all of the time. “Church shopping” is the term people use.
Church shopping?!? The Body of Christ isn’t a cute pair of heels; it’s a pair of stanky feet Jesus cleaned up to be presentable and holy. It comes with occasional blisters, yes. Yet Jesus has designed The Church to be His representation in this world and ambassadors to welcome more into His Body.
It’s important to find a good church to find that fits your needs and challenges you to grow. And sometimes it’s important to leave a church for reasons contributing to spiritual health.
But what happened to dedication?
I’ve got some friends who are heroes of mine, the kind of heroes I could actually emulate realistically. They love Jesus and are committed to their church. That’s nothing new, per se. What is unique about them is that there are probably a good 8-10 different times when they have had reasons to find another church. Legitimate reasons, not just something like “the preaching isn’t challenging me anymore.” (That always comes across as weak sauce to me, by the way. If you aren’t getting challenged, then start teaching or leading people who need challenging. Learn to feed yourself instead of getting spoon-fed. It’ll bring a whole new depth to other people’s teaching for you.)
From my good friend, Jamie Roach’s book Sacred Community: “A sacred community is a unified body of individuals who are dedicated and set apart for the service and worship of God.”
Does that describe your community at church? If not, YOU are someone to change that. Not the pew hog three rows in front of you. Not the person everyone always assumes is going to do something.
I’ve been at my church 8 years (also as the student ministry director) and the longevity has helped so much in building great relationships. Every once in a while I get a comment or question about how long I’m thinking of staying. (Usually youth pastors don’t stick around the same church more than 3-4 years.) That always bugs me because it assumes I wouldn’t want to stick around for the sake of being committed to the same group of people. Well, my community is my church. The people who care about me, who have celebrated the birth of my daughter, who have sobbed with me over the loss of my dad. I have been hurt by people from my community, but we work through forgiveness. I’ve hurt people, too, and need to experience forgiveness.
That’s how The Church is supposed to work and bring about a better world than the one we feel stuck with.
Check out these words from a no-nonsense guy, Hugh Halter. (And read his book Sacrilege. It’s a good one.) He puts the need for being dedicated to your church body plainly.
“Please don’t give up on your church or leave. Find some friends in starting a church. Jesus died for his ‘bride,’ the church. The least we can do is stop bellyaching about her and try to make her as beautiful as Jesus intended her to be.” –Hugh Halter in Sacrilege
Let’s be the kind of Christ followers who partner with Jesus in making our churches as beautiful as they can be. Be the person who steps up to continue to make your community a sacred community.
I leave you with a picture of beautiful dedication.
[I mean, you get how CRAZY that is, right?!?!?! WOW!]