“Any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose.” – Nelson Mandela
Some years ago, Sherman and I received a Word of prophecy from Dr. Myles Monroe. At the time, Sherman was running the City Gospel Mission homeless shelter. In addition to the other things he said, Dr. Monroe prayed that we would be used by God to restore dignity to those who have lost it. The word DIGNITY is not often used these days. It means the state or quality of being deemed worthy of honor or respect. One of the character traits we aspire to develop and maintain at The Warehouse Church, OTR is a culture of honor: honoring God, honoring one another, honoring those whom we serve in the community, and honoring ourselves as made in the image of God. After our Back to School event this past Sunday which included a presentation of Pinocchio by Madcap Puppets, a brief worship service, and a community cookout— one of our volunteers expressed that this multi-cultural, intergenerational, and multi-class event had brought with it a sense of dignity. Families from all ethnic groups, attendees representing various stages of life, and socio-economic backgrounds came together to enjoy the day. For those who may have been struggling financially, their children were allowed to experience the kinds of things wealthier families take for granted: child-centered entertainment and fun options, and good and plenteous food served and eaten under tents with engaging conversation from their hosts. The event was free, and those gathered expressed their gratitude— not just for the food and fun, but for being treated with dignity, which often does not happen in gatherings such as this.
Paul instructed Titus to carry himself with dignity, “In everything, show yourself to be an example by doing good works. In your teaching show integrity, dignity.” (Titus 2:7) Paul taught Timothy that deacons, that word means those who serve, likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.” (1 Timothy 3:8) In the Church we talk a lot about the dignity our leaders should hold…but not as much about the dignity held by those we serve. We give away run-down things we don’t want. When we serve meals they’re often not the same quality that we would eat, or they’re served at a distance, we don’t eat with our guests. It’s not with the kind of hospitality with which we would like to be served. Dignity makes a difference. I pray this is something we all will consider as we minister.