Best Christmas Advice: Just show up

In a meeting with a Chinese pastor we asked her how foreign Christians in the vicinity of her church could support her and the church. They’re in kind of a rural area (a relative term in China) and most of the foreigners don’t speak Chinese. The foreigners don’t attend often. Events where you don’t understand what’s going on can be a part of life when you live cross-culturally, more so than we probably realize if we are honest with ourselves.

But to weekly sit, stand, bow, wonder the topic of the sermon, try to quiet children, try not to look at your watch too often, try not to appear antsy and remind yourself this is supposed to have some elements of worship. Knowing that this isn’t a onetime event, but you’ll be back here next Sunday. It’s easy to ask yourself is it worth it?

So, back to the question asked the pastor: how can we serve you?

Her answer was painfully simple. Just show up. Don’t underestimate the power of your presence.

Just show up.

Yes, yes! I say. But then I realize I prefer Nike’s just do it! Doing something seems active and easier to measure the difference I’ve made {um, yes, it’s back to being all about me, all about you, not all about them}.

Don’t underestimate the power of your presence.

Bam, and just that like the incarnation is summed up in a modern proverb. Emmanuel, God with us. Don’t underestimate the power of your presence.

I hadn’t thought of Jesus as being bored. But I bet he was. Or that he’d fidget when something didn’t capture his interest or try not to wonder how much longer he’d have to stay at an event until he could sneak out.  I’m not trying to be irreverent and I know that Jesus was able to be bored without sinning, something I am wholly incapable of doing consistently.

But when Jesus washed the feet of his friends before he died and told them to “go and do likewise,” I think he was throwing in some boredom too. Go, and serve one another, yes. But remember that serving can include just showing up.

And just showing up will result in an opportunity to do something, a chance to pick up your cross, so to speak. But first, don’t underestimate the power of your presence.

Merry Christmas or if it’s not a year to be merry, simply, Christmas to you. Thanks for showing up here so faithfully.


When have you just shown up? Or when has someone just shown up for you?

Photo credit:  Thomas Hawk via Flickr


  1. Ashley Felder December 22, 2013

    Challenging. The reasons you listed not to show up are exactly why we don’t go (plus a few others). Hmm..ok, now to ask for wisdom on a decision. Especially after reading another friend’s blog from here that pointed out how locals assume we’re here for the money or to marry. What a great way to show (some of them) that we have other reasons, too.

    1. Amy Young December 22, 2013

      Ashley, life comes with seasons eh? And just when we get one figured out, life goes and changes on us :). Thankfully, as you pointed out, wisdom CAN be offered and we don’t have to make these decisions on our own without The Helper’s insight. Will be remembering this for you and your fam.

  2. Heather December 23, 2013

    I am showed up now :). And being content in being able to just show up. I think we forget to recognize how much effort showing up takes and want to DO more. Is it the Amercian, “can DO” spirit that gets in the way of seeing the value in BE? I’m just thinking out loud here. I know the past months have taught me and reminded me again and again, that my presence is huge and greatly appreciated more than what I can do. Yes, showing up is a great thing.

    1. Amy Young December 23, 2013

      OH YES. I do forget how much effort just showing up can be. It’s not for the faint of heart and can often require more than doing something (doesn’t that seem so backwards? But we have a paradoxical God!). Thanks for showing up here 🙂

  3. Morielle December 23, 2013

    This is so totally true. I often need to remember that just showing up is a mindset as well as a physical presence. A mindset of alertness, of awareness, of sensitivity–in short, a soft and open heart. Not a heart looking for ways to perform, but rather a heart with a keen sense of hearing.

    1. Amy Young December 23, 2013

      Morielle, I LOVE what you’ve added. Mindset. Yes. Just, yes. Will add that into my mental hopper 🙂

  4. Beth December 23, 2013

    Showing up here for the first time. I’m glad another blogger I follow shared this on her page. A great message for us. This will be a difficult Christmas for my family and part of me wants to hibernate in my home, but thank you for the reminder that showing up has meaning. Merry Christmas.

    1. Amy Young December 23, 2013

      Beth, welcome! So glad you popped in and said hi. I’m sorry it will be a difficult time for you and your family — and I get the desire to hibernate! Will be thinking of you and yours this year!

  5. Mary Beth December 24, 2013

    I thought of this post earlier today. I ran into the Qinyuan bakery to grab a quick coffee before meeting a friend for lunch. The teacher of our local fellowship was in there buying some Christmas goodies for friends. I said hello to her, and she automatically started buying treats for me! Not only did she give me a bag full of snacks, but also for the two little girls on my team PLUS an extra bag for “whoever i would like to give it to.” I was so moved by her generosity, mostly because all i really do is show up about one Sunday a month and eat with students downstairs afterward. It was a reminder that we dont always know the impact that just “showing up” has on those around us. And it ended up being a bigger encouragement to me, when sometimes it doesnt feel like Christmas.

    1. Amy Young December 24, 2013

      Oh Mary Beth, thanks for coming back and sharing this encouragement with us. It’s so easy to think the little things we do aren’t really making any kind of difference. I had my own experience this week with someone at the gym and the email he wrote about a simple card I gave him for Christmas … well, it’s encouraged me to look for other small ways to just show up. I kind of prefer the BIG spectacular stuff given my (at times over the top) personality. So comments like yours and emails like the one I received, are helpful nudges.

  6. laura December 27, 2013

    I just showed up this Christmas eve. It’s not always easy and I hadn’t in our city yet but I’m glad that I did. Thankful for a group that puts lyrics of choir songs on powerpoint!

    1. Amy Young December 30, 2013

      “it’s not always easy.” Truer words were never spoken (OK, maybe they were, but you get my meaning :)) And your comment is another way of showing up! Thank you!

  7. Mallary December 30, 2013

    Hey Amy, I shared this story with my team leader and she recommended that I post it here: Saturday I went to church. It’s something I do most Saturdays with my now seven month old son. We at least go for the music portion which he really enjoys. After that, we stay if he can sit quietly. But I always battle internally with whether or not to go because it’s in the evening, now it’s cold, sometimes the baby gets fussy, etc. This particular Saturday he had woken late from his nap so we took a taxi instead of walking to save time. We ended up in a taxi with another passenger–a man in his 40s or 50s. He heard me tell the driver my destination and then asked me multiple questions about the church. He asked things like, “Can anyone go?” I assured him anyone can attend. As we neared my destination he said, “Can I go with you now?” I agreed, he paid for our taxi, and we three went into the church together. Due to a fussy baby (teething, I think), after 15 or 20 minutes of crying I caved and decided we needed to go home. I apologized to the gentleman and left for home…but he stayed. I did not get much out of church that day, but I showed up, and I hope as a result this man who told me he had never been in a church before, will find himself at the church again.

    1. Amy Young December 30, 2013

      Mallary, thank you for taking the time to type this up and share! What I love, is that not only did the man hear, but the taxi driver got to hear your conversation, see where the church was, and see a fellow citizen desire to go. Seeds and light were sown! Again, I think these are the little treasures that are so encouraging as we share them with one another so I truly appreciate the comment! Fondly, Amy

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