When I was younger, I tried to ride out my spiritual life by jumping from one hyped up moment to the next. My testimony consisted of rededicating my life to God and throwing something in a massive bonfire at camp. I gauged my intimacy with God on late-night epiphanies at fireside worship on a crisp fall night. What isn’t there to love about seeing kids making life-changing decisions? Why shouldn’t churches swoon about a big response from a message on a Sunday? They should! But the hype is rarely capitalized on and turned into productive growth. The drive home from camp is inevitable. Monday is always right after Sunday. The smell of smoke will wash out of those clothes. What happens before and after the hype is what really gauges spiritual temperature.
I recently sat down with someone who grew significantly in the past year. I asked him if there were any massive moments that played a crucial part in his growth. He sat quietly for a second before answering no, pausing as if he answered incorrectly. He went on to tell me he cannot put his finger on any specific moments. He spoke about the small, daily choices he made. Those choices didn’t seem major in the moment, but they accumulated and resulted in major growth. I cannot think of a better answer. I apologized for asking such a stupid, deceptive question. In that moment, I realized I still fight the urge to feed off of hype.
Hype is helpful, if not necessary! It creates moments that are easy to measure and exciting to promote. As necessary as it is, it is never enough. That historic game will be remembered because of the events that occurred in the arena, but the work behind the scenes was what made the victory possible. The after picture looks good next to the before picture, but the sacrifice, sweat, and work between those two pictures is what deserves the praise. We all know in the back of our heads this is true, but it gets drowned out in the moment.
Never stop creating hype. Scale those hyped up moments like Rocky running up the library steps. When you get to the top, celebrate the sacrifice, work, and sweat invested to get there. Be extremely careful not to accidentally sell the lie that spiritual growth is measured by scaling one hyped up moment to the next. For a more accurate reading of spiritual health, find ways to measure progress by the small consistent investments. With technology at our fingertips, this has never been easier. Think of the small consistent investments as the hype-scented candle. Never stop burning it to help the scent linger. If anyone can figure out how to turn “2000’s worship songs around a campfire” into a scent, name it “Praises On Fire” and send it my way!