by Tim Challies(If this were written by an American (more specifically a Southern American), we would have used a football player for an example, but you get the point... - BC)
|The real superstar was riding shotgun in the back...|
Sportsmanship is an interesting concept in sport and one whose meaning seems to have morphed over the years. Once held up as a virtue that emphasized respect for the game and grace toward an opponent in both victory or defeat, it now seems to speak to the misguided ethos that it doesn’t really matter who wins, as long as we all try our hardest and have fun. I prefer the original concept and have tried to instill this in my son; I want him to be a good sportsman who honors the game and respects his opponents, even while seeking victory. This kind of sportsmanship is worth recovering where it has been lost and worth maintaining where it still exists.
There is another idea, a similar one, that has been much on my mind recently. Churchmanship is a virtue that may also be fading into history. We all lead busy and multi-faceted lives. We have obligations at home and at work and we have relationships to nurture with family, extended family, neighbors, friends. Somewhere in that mix is commitment to a local church. For some people church ranks so highly that ministry always comes first, even at the expense of everything and everyone else; for some people church barely ranks at all and receives only the few moments that are left over when everything else has been taken care of.
Between these extremes is the virtue of good churchmanship. The good churchman is a Christian who truly and wholeheartedly dedicates himself to his local church, to the community of believers he loves. This is the Christian who who loves those people, who serves them, and who prioritizes them. This is a fading virtue we would do well to recover and to call one another to.
Here are some of the ways a Christian can face particular challenges in our time and in our churches and excel at churchmanship.
|and don't forget to bring your candles...|
A Good Churchman Serves. The person who is dedicated to his church actively pursues opportunities to serve the people he loves. He looks beyond the formal ministries of the church—greeters and nursery workers and offices of elder or deacon—and continually looks for ways to serve other people, even, or perhaps especially, in ways that few will ever notice. His pursuit of people is always a pursuit of ways to serve.
A Good Churchman Disciples. There are so many skills and virtues that are better caught than taught, better modeled than explained. The good churchman knows this and is active in discipling others, even though this requires him to give of his time. Discipleship requires humility—not just the humility to know your weakness, but humility to believe that the Lord can use you in another person’s life despite your sin and failings. It was not pride but humility that motivated Paul to tell the church at Corinth, “I urge you, then, be imitators of me” and “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
A Good Churchman Grows. The Christian who attends and serves and disciples will almost inevitably be a Christian who shows steady growth in his understanding of the Scripture and in his application of its truths. This Christian life calls for a relentless pursuit of holiness, which is the product of an ongoing pursuit of God himself, which is in turn the product of a relentless pursuit of truth as God has revealed it in the Bible. The good churchman takes advantage of every ordinary means of God’s grace, he reads and listens and studies and prays, and through it all is more and more conformed to the image of the Savior.