I love the local church. I’ve spent half of my life in a church building between growing up as a pastor’s kid and working in the church. Basically, I’m a self-proclaimed church expert.
I could tell you hilarious, roll-on-the-floor-laughing stories about old ladies with bathroom issues and baptisms gone awry. I can also tell you heartbreaking stories about the hard and hurtful times for me and my family. I’ve seen it all, and I love it in spite of the hard times.
I don’t know what thoughts the word church brings to your mind. Maybe you love it. Or maybe you have hard church stories that you could share too. I’m sorry, friend. I won't pretend that it's easy to move past hurtful church situations, but I will tell you this: That is not how God intended church to be.
I may not know your exact story, but here’s how I’ve learned to thrive at church.
Keep Your Focus on Jesus
It has to be about Jesus.
Let me repeat that a little louder this time.
IT HAS TO BE ABOUT JESUS.
People in your church will let you down. Even the pastor will probably let you down at some point. We are all human, and we can’t elevate people to Jesus’ level. I wrote an entire chapter in my book about looking to people instead of Jesus. Don’t do it!
I’ve been guilty of allowing others to persuade my thinking towards how I view Jesus and how He is leading me. It always leaves me empty and heartbroken in the end.
We have to show up at church fixing our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2).
You will thrive when you focus on Jesus.
Use Your Gifts
God has given all of us unique spiritual gifts to use at church (1 Peter 4:10). Some of us are singers. Some of us were made to work with kids or teenagers. Some of us love to mow the lawn or clean the church. I love that none of us have the same gifts and that God uses it all.
We can use these gifts to serve the people that walk through the doors at our church. There is something about serving that strips away any selfish desires inside of us. It keeps us involved. Our desire and commitment to use our gifts glorifies God.
Keep it simple too. I’m all about simple!
Don’t try to do everything. If you do things outside of your gifts, you will burn out. It won’t last. If we all use our gifts, the church will lack nothing. Doesn’t that sound amazing?
If you are the overachieving type, you especially need to keep it simple. (I’m preaching to myself!) Don’t forget to do the small, important things like give a hug, listen attentively, or love the people around you while you are using your gifts.
You will thrive when you use your God-given gifts.
Love the People
"If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing."
-1 Corinthians 13:3
Using our gifts will mean nothing and we won't be focused on Jesus if we don't love the people around us. When I love people, I get so much love in return. It's contagious. Crazy how that happens.
Loving others and having them love you back is a lot like what I talked about in my last blog post about friendship. Sometimes we have to be a good friend to find a good friend. Just like sometimes we have to show love to receive love.
My desire is to show up at church and love the people around me. I want the people at my local church to feel like my extended family.
When I was growing up and we would be on a family trip, I always wanted to be home in time to go to our church on Sundays. They were the people I wanted to be with. They were my family. My parents instilled this desire in me and I am forever grateful for it. As a mom, I want the same for my children.
You will thrive (and allow other people to thrive) when you love them.
Make it about Jesus. Use your gifts. Love people.
I promise that you’ll thrive.
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