Inspire Instead

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   by Edward    Leave a comment  →

This being a Sunday, it’s only fitting.

And no, even though this post will talk about churches and Christianity, I’m not here to convert people or debate about teachings. Read first.

I shot a wedding yesterday in a church where I used to go as a kid. Coming in, I saw this huge banner over the entrance that says:


(This is of course aimed sarcastically at the people that come to church as late as they possibly can, and then go out before the priest finishes his final blessing.)

I stand there puzzled. “Why did you come in the first place then? Do you collect receipts on your way out or something?”

And I found out this church now has a cellphone signal scrambler. That’s right. When you go inside the building, your phone will get a ‘No Service’.

And it is not the only one. A lot of church buildings now publicly state that they are using scramblers to prevent people playing with their phones while the service is taking place.

Many years ago, sitting in a small Bible study group, I heard these words from Mr. Jeffrey Rachmat, a pastor in Jakarta Praise Community Church:

“You will not succeed in telling people that they cannot lie, cheat and steal. You cannot tell people, “Hey, God says you cannot do this! You cannot do that!”

It might work for a while. But they will get back on doing it, as fast as they stopped.

You just cannot forbid people to commit sin.

What you can do is introduce them about the higher values that is waiting for them if they choose not to.

Tell them about family, about true joy and peace, about defeating yourself and going on higher grounds. About hard work, excellence and perfection. About honesty and honor. About the price that God has paid for us to live freely, and how we can value that price by not living cheaply.

By living this life the best we can.

I remember few of my life-changing moments, but that night is definetely one.

My bad habits and destructive behaviours stopped almost immidiately. I stopped living in the shadow of judgement and I didn’t need pastors yelling about hell and the laws of God in my face. I myself wanted to change. I promised myself that I did not want to live cheaply.

All the difficult decisions that made me what I am today came not from what people telling me what to do, but from what I aspired to be.

Aside from my personal salvation, I learned one of the biggest truth about life that nite:

You cannot tell people what to do. You can only inspire.

That’s why the sarcastic banners and the phone scramblers won’t work. People will just continue to arrive late and day-dream on the sermons.

That’s why you cannot tell your boyfriend to stop smoking, start dieting, and begin exercising. Can I see a raise of hands, please?

If you block your office internet access to get your workers work harder, it won’t work. They just browse with their phones and goof around. Another raise of hands, please.

And you cannot tell your husband to start taking his life seriously, if he himself is not inspired within.

I have seen zero people changed their life just because somebody tell them to.

Give them a better value, a higher inspiration for change, a reason to do it from the inside.

Only then you might have a shot.

And if you are reading this Jeffrey: Thank you.

UPDATE: Just found out that this post surprisingly coincide with Jakarta Praise Community Church 14th Anniversary. I lovingly dedicate this to all of you :)

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