His message was refreshing – in a time when our generation wants a quick hit, be it a one-day service project or one night stand. We. want. it. now.
I was recently at a meeting to discuss the rec center in my neighborhood, the site of which is being proposed as a joint location for a new rec center and a new middle school. The room was tense: Parents wanted to ensure a good, safe school, and community members wanted a space they could still use without being hindered by school security issues. One gentleman in the room noted that he had fought for the original rec center over twenty years ago. He could have easily decided not to attend the meeting, knowing that he’d fought long and hard for the first community center. But he was there – despite the rain and the cold. He was there because it mattered. Because he wasn’t going down without a fight. Because he is a stakeholder.
When we have a stake in something, we are in it for the long haul.
Take the International Justice Mission, for example, which works to rescue people out of trafficking and bring justice to their captors. Haugen recounted the number of people it took to bring one trafficker to justice. He described long hours filled with lengthy legal paperwork, postage stamps and car rides. I wonder if this does not look so different from any given moment in my typical day.
If life is dotted with milestones, are there not also patient, enduring lines to connect those exciting dots?
If we are to be truly engaged in our church, our community, with our neighbors we must (a) be willing to commit the time to it, and (b) be okay with the long and boring parts. And, John Wesley warns, we must avoid burnout:
Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing!
Serving is not sexy. It’s not always easy – not if you want to get into the weeds. Haugen’s message was a reminder that God is writing a story, and not every page will be an action scene.