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Uplifting The Church Pt 5 - Wake Up Call


A good and bad way to wake up


I don't like alarm clocks, especially the ones with the nasty repeated buzz sound that makes you feel like you've been jolted out of your sleep.


Large clock in black and white.

I do not use stock photography in my articles. See this image in my own portfolio.


We’ve probably all been there, the moment when someone else wakes you up by turning the lights on or pulling off the blankets. It’s usually not meant to be mean, but it doesn’t feel nice when you're wrapped up in sleep and unwilling to give up the comfort zone. I’m not judging those who do it, but I’ve never had the heart to do it to my own kid. When I need to wake her up, I simply lay down next to her and start rubbing her back, arm or face. I hold her hand sometimes and maybe say a few kind, soft words to her, like: “Where’s my baby girl?” 99.9% of the time she wakes up and immediately engages with me, usually with a hug or a few kind words of her own.


I’m a realist and I don’t have a bleeding heart. I put my foot down where it belongs and speak up when it’s right. But the wake up thing, it’s important, because when I wake my daughter up with love, she stays engaged and doesn’t shrink back into the blankets. She wakes up feeling refreshed, respected and open to whatever comes next.


"Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light." - Ephesians 5:14 (NKJV)


What do alarm clocks have to do with uplifting the church?


Part of uplifting the church is to be Honest and speak for what’s right. It means waking people up from their comfort, much like you do when you’re digging a child out from under the covers. And like that sleeping child, if you don’t wake someone with love, they’re going to want to bury themselves back in their comfort zone, pull the blanket over their eyes and hide from the light. So instead of yanking the covers away, you get beside the person and, with love, you basically say: “hey, I’m here to wake you up". And, like how it is with that sleeping child, it’s a lot more likely to bring them to a state of openness.


That’s that light I talked about in Uplifting The Church Pt 4 - Shining The Critical Light. Instead of hammering away at someone with judgment, you show them the light they may not have seen before, or maybe just haven’t seen in a while. That’s one big reason we as Christians leaders have to act with the behavior of Christ, not that of the world, because the world's tactics go completely against the gospels'.



Delivery


Psychology 101: force-feeding anything to anyone will almost always make them resent it. Browbeating information into someone will make them hate it. Bullying people into becoming part of the church will turn them away from your presence and possibly God's. This all has to do with a worldly sense of education and Justice. It’s the old: “I’ll teach them” attitude and it has no place when uplifting the church.


A rock formation that looks like a human face

Rock Face 2022 A - by Shawn P Keenan (article writer)



One of the most important things I learned as an early childhood educator was the true meaning of the word “teach”: to draw forth. It means you don't expect people to see everything the way you see it. Instead, you find out how to deliver information based on their interests and experiences. If you’re not learning who people are so you can help them understand the subject you're teaching, you’re not teaching. In fact, you’re probably just lecturing. If you’re not using church resources to take care of their needs as a church, you’re not leading, you’re just collecting resources and dictating.


So how do we do it? How do we reach people where they are, instead of expecting them to come to us? How do we wake people up gently? Sometimes we have to dig into our own past and remember the experiences that shaped who we are now. Doing that can give us empathy and sympathy for what our students feel and help us humble ourselves. Sometimes we have to just imagine ourselves in their position instead of judging them. But, in any case, we have to speak and act with love, compassion and generosity.



The right of being wrong


I want to be told I’m wrong. I want to be told when I'm not following the words of Jesus Christ. It gives me a chance to become what I want and need to be. It’s also okay to not want to be told your wrong. You have the right to crawl under the covers and never come out. But if you're put in a place of setting examples of Christianity, you have to be humble and willing to be set straight. If not, you can’t lead because, at that point, you’re setting an example of pride, pretending you’re not a product of this broken world like everyone else. But, in keeping with my philosophy of being woken up gently, I say this with love and humbleness; as Christians and especially Christian leaders, we need to be told when we’re wrong.

"Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." - Hebrews 12:11 (NKJV)

Being brave


Baby power fist!

See this image in my personal photography portfolio, inside the Human gallery.


Leading a biblical life and teaching others the same, it's tough, especially in today's world. It’s incredibly hard to wake up and face the damage often done by comfort zones. And it’s next to impossible to predict the rewards of breaking away from them. I’ve personally been through it, as we all have at some point in our lives, that moment when you take a leap of faith. It’s like standing under a cloudy sky, striving for what you can’t see above it. And when we finally get the courage to reach a hand through the clouds, that hand is either met with nothing, something painful or something supportive. If it’s not something supportive, it’s a safe bet that the person reaching will pull that hand back down and never reach again.


Do we do that as Christians? Do we meet those hands with either nothing or by causing them pain? No. We greet them with the truth; the need to wake up with love and adapt ourselves to the instructions found in the Bible. We greet them with warmth, welcome and a strong example of compassion and support, just as Jesus and His Father do.


"I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance." - Luke 15:7 (NKJV)


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