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Christians have fallen into a trap. I call it the “you can have it your way trap.” I succumb to this so often that I named it. I have this terrible instinct when it comes to churches to run when it gets messy. If I cannot have it my way, then I am out. Now, I do not often act on this instinct but I have to admit that it is there. Where does this idea come from? When did we as Christians start to think that we could have it our way? I blame Burger King.
But I have news for you…the church is not Burger King.
This is the problem with a Burger King mentality in church, we are not committed. If we do not like something that is going on, we leave the church because I suddenly think I should have it my way. The problem with the Burger King Way is that it makes us selfish, it makes church all about us. But church is not about us. It never has been. Church is all about God.
When you leave a church at the first sign on pickles on your plain cheeseburger, then you make church all about you and what makes you happy. So I’m here to say, as much as for my own benefit as your own, that the next time you get the “turn and flee” idea planted in your head, ask yourself, “How can my attitude change to make this better?” See, this way it can still be all about you, but it is now all about you changing your attitude and not changing the church. It is suddenly how can you better serve the church then how much better the church can meet your needs?
This has been on my heart and mind the past few days and it is something that I get mad at myself about often because somehow in the course of my life this “have it your way” mentality has crept into my mindset about the church. I have found myself continually tempted to “church shop (a term in itself that encourages people to shop around until they find someplace they can “have it their way”) when I am unhappy when really I should just stay where I am and try my best to make myself better. Maybe I am the problem, and if that is the case, then I am not going to be happy anywhere.
The point is, this is God’s church, not ours. We should be more concerned about fixing ourselves and our mindset than fixing the church.
As you can tell I go through writing fits. I’ll do a really good job for a few days and then it seems I fail for a few months. Every day I think, “I really want to write something for my blog today.” And then I sit around, for a few hours, trying to think of something to write about. Today started out as one of those days and then it hit me.
At Christmastime I think it is really easy to get sucked into the consumerism and “I Need” syndrome. I love to give people the best gifts I can, which can be hard when you are on a tight budget. And as much as I do not like to admit this, sometimes buying gifts can get to be depressing. When that happens I realize how skewed my viewpoint is. I think that this is especially easy for churches to do. When your church is deep into the holidays it is hard to realize how far you have fallen from the true meaning of the season.
I would tend to think that December is one of the high points for churches doing marketing, but maybe, like gift giving, they are doing it for the wrong reason. When you start a marketing campaign around the holidays it is important to have specific goals to focus on, so when you start to get dragged deeper into gimmicks and hype you can look back and say, “look from where we have fallen from.”
There have been several times already this December (and it is only the fourth) that I have had to take a step back and say, “Wait, why am I doing this?” Here is an example: I am in charge of the children’s Christmas program this Christmas, which is happening this coming Sunday. I have been freaking out for about a month now about everything being perfect. Saturday night it hit me, why do I want this to be perfect? The answers I came up with: I do not want people to be disappointed or think it was bad, I do not want the kids to be embarrassed about it, and I’m a perfectionist. That’s when I stepped back and whacked myself in the head and said, “Really Lauren, those are your reasons?” I was struck with how selfish I had been and with how I totally missed the point of this Christmas program. Since then whenever I get stressed or feel myself getting dragged down I just ask myself, “Lauren, why are you doing this children’s program?” And then I reply to myself, “For the glory of God.” It has been amazing how much that has changed my attitude.
I think we, the church, need to continually ask ourselves, why are we doing this, and if the answer is not “For the glory of God.” Then stop it, drop it immediately, and either pick it up with the right attitude or leave it laying on the ground. I think this is especially true around the holidays when the whole reason for celebration is God’s glory.