Letha and I had a laugh at Chipotle on Friday. We had dropped by to enjoy a few lunch tacos and there were 10-12 “twenty-something” guys having lunch, all of them obvious employees of the same company (their logoed white polos and company van gave them away). Not only were their shirts all alike, they were all wearing baggy cargo shorts, nice white tennis shoes and everybody had a Bluetooth device attached to their ear or an iPhone hangin’ on their hip. They were all Caucasian, all had the same haircut and all had that “I’m taking the technology world by storm” look in their eyes. It was weird. I don’t know if their job required them to look like clones or what. It was very strange. I had a good chuckle.
I also wondered how we are perceived by our community. By “we”, I mean believers in Christ. Obviously, we don’t all dress alike or look the same but I am wondering if those who drive by our church have a certain perception about us. Do they think we all are robots without the freedom and ability to think for ourselves? Do they do what I thought at Chipotle? Do they snicker and think we look a bit silly?
In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul tells us, “…you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” (NLT) Hebrews 13:7 tells us to imitate our leaders. I hope we understand the necessity of finding a healthy pattern of living and following it. We all know the value of a mentor. But I also hope we understand the necessity of individuality. If we are going to be effective in finding the lost, we have to respect the concepts of diversity. I think it is a mistake if we all listen to the same music and like the same artists and hang out at the same places. If we are all reading the same authors and attending the same conferences, we are getting a bit too predictable and boring. True, the road to salvation is narrow and straight. But once we are on that road, Christ never condemns individuality.
If you are a progressive leader, you are familiar with the list. The hot bloggers, the writers who are selling a ton of books. The conference speakers and pastors who have a thousand groupies following them around the country. I say, think a little for yourself. Go ahead and break out of the mold that has dictated what everyone else is doing and saying. Try something new.
Take a look around your church. Is everyone white? Is everyone rich? Is everyone young? If your answer is yes, then probably you are not doing the best job in reaching your community (unless everyone in your community is white and rich and young). How about your friends? Do they all talk and dress like you, have the same opinions as you? Do they all vote like you? If so, you are all missing a great opportunity to expand and grow. You may also be missing some chances to reach others – who are unlike you.
It’s a big world out there. There are lots of awesome people in it. Most of them are different from you. How ‘bout making a connection with a few of them today? It may be a little scary at first, but most of them don’t bite.