I hate it when a worship set includes the song “Undignified.” If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a song based on the events of 2 Samuel 6. (You know the story—it’s when David gets yelled at for dancing in his underwear and he replies that he will be even more undignified than that if it means worshipping God.) No worship leader feels content simply to sing the song; instead, he is compelled to explain how David danced in his underwear and exhort us, no, commands us, to get crazy wild in worship. No matter how loud I clap or how high I jump, I never quite feel crazy enough, and I often imagine my fellow worshippers are looking at me and thinking, “That girl’s not getting crazy at all! She is way too self-conscious.” Now, this is not why I have a dislike toward the song. I don’t think that our worship leaders are wrong in urging us to demonstrate exuberant worship through undignified means.
However, I do think that by focusing on this one aspect we are missing a greater point. It is time to expand our definition of what it means to be undignified. We say that it is about being so driven to worship God that we lose sight of what men think. It certainly is that, but why do we limit this drive to the duration of a praise set? Worship is not merely in the singing or the dancing, but in the entire lifestyle of the worshipper. Being undignified is about regularly making God-centered, self-humbling choices in every aspect of our lives.
I live at an age and in a city fueled by prestige, money, image and coolness. While most of my peers are sharply dressed professionals just starting to earn salaried paychecks, I am still living with my parents. While they have cubicles and cocktails, I work a volunteer ministry job and go to seminary full-time. When people ask me what I am going to do with my life after I graduate, they are hoping to hear something that justifies eight years of undergraduate and graduate education. They hope to hear that someday I will be a professor or something equally venerable. They want to hear that I have a five-year plan that includes a mortgage (in the nice part of town). Instead, they get to hear me say, “I’m going to be doing the same thing I’m doing now: working a volunteer ministry job. I’ll earn a living working as a secretary or something. Starbucks is always hiring. I’ll be okay.” Now that is undignified. I know because of the uncomfortable silence that follows. I have disappointed them and they have no ready polite response. They wonder why I am settling for such a small life when I could really make something of myself; I wonder if they are living for something greater.
When you dedicate two years of your life to overseas missions, and come back to endure the endless string of people asking you why you are still an undergraduate at 24, that is undignified. And having to ask everyone you know for money so that you can go on that trip—well, that’s undignified too.
When you pass up a promotion to spend more time at church—that is undignified.
When you are the only virgin in the room, and everyone knows it—that is undignified.
When you are forced to answer questions with “I have no idea, but God will provide”—that is undignified.
When your primary job description is “a slave of Christ Jesus,” well, how could you expect anything else? The life of a slave is unselfish, unglamorous and uncertain. A slave spends all his/her time and energy doing things that benefit the master’s household with no regard for his/her own needs. Worst of all, a slave is never off-duty. One is not a slave only in some areas and free in others. It defines and consumes one’s life.
So what about you? How are you undignified? Are you ready for your life to be defined and consumed by the interests of God’s kingdom? Are you willing to become even more undignified than you are now?[Kristy Overton is the Young Adult Ministry leader at Hebron Community Church and a second-year Th.M. student at Dallas Theological Seminary.]