by Hannah Card
This week I did something a bit out of the ordinary while I was spring cleaning. I threw away my childhood trophies. It was a simple thing, really. A few days later, I found my brother doing the same.
You see, we both grew up playing little league at our town’s recreation fields, and every year without fail or reason, each team member received a trophy. Not earned—simply received. I know there are countless reasons for this practice, but I believe we have adopted this same mentality in many other facets of our lives.
The little league deal is: you sign up, you show up (or even just show up most of the time; heck, just make sure you make it to a few games) and you get a trophy—a cheap, meaningless piece of plastic that looks just like everyone else’s.
And it works, I suppose, at least when you’re a kid.
The problem is, we have a lot of adults, even Christian adults, living with a little league mentality.
You see, God convicted me this week that I treat life a lot like a little league baseball season. I sign up, I show up, and I expect to be rewarded with my trophy at the end. Unfortunately, I believe many Christians do the same.
We have gotten the gospel terribly wrong, friends. We have begun to believe the lie that all it takes to live a life given to Christ is showing up in church. So we do; we show up nearly every Sunday no matter how begrudgingly, we sit alongside our precious families, and then we go about our week.
We like to think God has an attendance chart, and we have accumulated our fair share of stickers.
This is not the gospel. God has equipped us for so much more than sitting in pews.
Don’t get me wrong; there is value in showing up. As a former church plant kid, my heart is deeply rooted in the local church, and I firmly believe we are called to our local communities. Please, continue to show up. Please, sit in the pews of your local churches every Sunday. But for the love of all that Jesus is and all that he did, do not expect a trophy for it.
Jesus made it pretty clear that “the last will be first, and the first will be last,” (Matt. 20:16 NIV) meaning we should seek to serve, to be “the last,” in order to be “first” in the end and receive our reward in heaven.
He did this, through no works of our own, with no account for our deservedness, but because He is gracious. He earned us the right to be a part of the body of believers that runs this great race together.
But now that we’ve been given a seat at the table, now what? We are equipped and we are called. We are called to take the gospel to every people and every place. That means our neighbors across the street and across the world. Wherever God calls you, I guarantee it will require more than a half-hearted effort to simply show up. It will require your life, in every way imaginable. You will have to hold everything out with open hands to our Savior. There will be no trophy, no awards, for they will all be placed at the feet of Jesus.
But there will be one thing. The words of a loving master to a beloved child: “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21 NIV).
For me, those words are worth more than every box of trophies I have ever owned. May it be the same for you, my friend.
Don’t just show up to sit in a pew. Show up and run your race well.
Hannah Card is a wonderer and a wanderer. She is a southern-speakin’, Jesus-lovin’ coffee consumer who writes about life, whether pretty or messy (usually leaning toward messy). She is the daughter of two amazing, brave, church planting Jesus followers, the sister of an amazing worship pastor, and a lover of Jesus. She blogs at thissweetlybrokenlife.com.
Photograph used with permission from, and copyright of, Michelle Lenger.