Sign Up Or Show Up

by Rich Dixon on August 4, 2009

God doesn’t want us simply to sign up. He wants us to show up. Pastor Dary Northrup

I’m kind of a “sound bite” guy when I listen to sermons.

sign up sheetI seem to recall the central points of a message when I can distill them into a single statement. This notion of “signing up vs. showing up” summarizes a lot of thinking about service.

I wrote last week about living a substantial life. It seems like “showing up” might be one mark of substantial living.

Signing up is easy, partly because it focuses on results. Would you like to see an end to childhood hunger? Sure—who wouldn’t? Do the elderly need help with household chores? Obviously. World peace? I’m in!

The same principle works on a personal level. I should spend more time reading scripture. I need to weigh less, eat better, get in shape. All desirable results—pretty much everyone agrees.

Showing up is different. Saturday morning raking leaves for the widow next door interferes with the tee time. Quiet time with God’s word means getting up earlier, and I’m already sleep-deprived. 

Health clubs thrive on this results-focused mentality. Signing up for the membership is easy; showing up each day is a different matter. Substance abuse rehab programs are filled with repeat clients who want the results but don’t know how to show up when it gets hard.

Showing up is about the process, the small steps that feel insignificant in isolation. It requires doing the right things, being the right sort of person, even when the results are uncertain or seem impossibly distant.

I want to follow Jesus. Great—I signed up.

How will my life be different? What commitment will I make to serve when it’s tough, to love someone who’s not very lovable? What sacrifice will I make to show His face in my everyday interactions? How will I show up?

It doesn’t do much good to have a leader who walks on water unless you’re willing to follow in His footsteps.

What’s your take? How do you experience the difference between ‘signing up’ and ‘showing up’?

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