Taken for Granted
I wish it were not so but, honestly, I’m not sure how it can be otherwise. Namely, that which becomes familiar to us begins to be taken for granted.
For instance, it was my blessing to be raised in a “Leave it to Beaver” kind of family. (Translation-“Leave it to Beaver” was a TV show in the late fifties-early sixties that extolled the virtues of the idyllic, Baby Boomer nuclear family in post-war America.) My dad made a living, my mom stayed home to care for my sister and me, we ate dinner together every night, we went to church together every Sunday. I played Little League and “Grid Kids” football and don’t remember a game when my dad and mom weren’t on the sidelines rooting me on. We took simple vacations together, we developed Christmas traditions that repeated themselves annually. I was “tucked in and prayed for” every night by at least one, if not both parents.
That was my normal. I didn’t know anything else. Even though I was vaguely aware that some of my friends lived a different sort of life, it wasn’t really until I was out and away from home that I realized how remarkable, how blessed, how too-sadly unique, was my family life at home. I was always as grateful as I knew how to be. Now, of course, my gratitude is so much greater because I realize how different it often is.
Now to the punchline: there are things about our life together as this “Sweetheart Church” that I suspect some might take for granted, especially those who have been here for a long, long time. It’s so much a part of our culture that we grow a little numb to it. And unless we’ve spent time in another church with a contrary culture, we might not even have a point of reference.
One example would be our leadership culture. You’ve heard me say it before but over the last 30 years, Chapel Hill has raised up, trained, ordained and sent off 15 pastors. That’s a rate of one every other year! Some of them are leading some very significant churches. Additionally, we have also sent out 21 folks into full-time mission work.
The first time you hear these statistics, it astounds. The next time, it makes you proud. But after a while, it becomes your normal…and it doesn’t cross your mind to be astounded again until you are reminded how rare, rare, rare this is! There are many churches who would be so pleased to send ONE of their sons or daughters into full-time Christian ministry. We have sent out 36.
This weekend we will celebrate our one-year anniversary of Beyond These Walls by meeting pastors-in-training numbers 16-22. As we are led by them in worship, we will be reminded of the embarrassment of leadership riches God has poured out upon us. My message will speak to the importance of raising up leaders and I will be joined by a special guest who is well known to most of you and who will be a blessing to all of you.
One of the reasons you are my Sweetheart Church is that you invest in the next generation of leaders. Join me this weekend as we celebrate that fact!