If you come by the church office any given day of the week, you are likely to find me in a suit with a tie on. This has often led to confusion from church members and others in the community as I am often asked, "Why do you always dress up for work?"
I will admit that my dress is not the norm; many of my contemporaries in ministry wear golf shirts, or blue jeans to work, and being 29 years old, people expect me to fit into this mold.
So, why the ties? Why the suits? I am glad you asked.
I have not always dressed up for work, and for that matter I've not always dressed up for anything. When I was in college, I often showed up for class in shorts and a T-shirt, and this carried over in my post-graduate seminary studies.
In fact, one time while at Southern Seminary I was called into the dean's office for wearing shorts that had "too many" holes in them. Even that correction didn't lead to any real change. My typical outfit was still shorts or jeans and a T-shirt.
Even out of seminary, when I first came to First Baptist, my day-to-day apparel was a golf shirt or button-up shirt and khaki pants, nothing more.
It was about a year after I came to First Baptist that I began to question my own apparel. One day I was meditating on 1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whether you eat or drink, whatever you do, do all to the glory of God," and I began to ask myself, "How do you dress for the glory of God?"
It struck me that an individual's apparel communicates something about that individual. So, as a man who was following Jesus and trying to bring glory to God in all things, what was it that I was trying to communicate in my dress?
Now, I am not saying that I believe every man ought to wear a suit and tie to his job, but as I thought through the context that God has placed me in, that is the conclusion that I came to. I came to it not because people at First Baptist expect this (they certainly don't), but because a good suit of clothes communicates to our culture certain things that are becoming of a disciple.
The first is leadership. Christians are called to lead, and this, of course, is especially true for pastors. Jesus instructed his followers to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. He told them to be influencers over other people and over society as a whole.
When you are dressed like a leader, people look to you to be a leader. I can't tell you how many times that I have been asked by strangers for directions or for help on something, simply because, in a suit, I look like I know the answer.
Now, there are plenty of men in suits that don't have a clue of what they are talking about, but in our culture people sure think they do. As a Christian, you should take every opportunity you can to influence culture for Christ and if your dress can give you influence, why not take the opportunity?
Secondly, wearing sharp apparel shows professionalism. If your doctor came out to meet you in shorts and a T-shirt, chances are you wouldn't let him operate on you. In the same way, you probably wouldn't seek legal council from someone in jeans.
A good suit of clothing on a man or woman shows professionalism; it shows that man or woman is serious about their task. Their task may be preaching, or holding the door, but someone that cares enough to dress nicely shows that they know how to do the task at hand.
Finally, a well-dressed man or woman shows that they are committed. For two years now, I have raised the expectation in terms of dress in the office and I have seen, as a result, a greater commitment to the task at hand. People work harder, show up on time, and invest more energy into their work.
You look your best for the things you care about the most. As Christians, we are called to do everything for the glory of God and therefore we must be fully committed in every way to this task.
I am quite sure there may be someone reading this article saying, "Jesus never thought about how he looked," which of course, would show poor understanding of Jesus. While Jesus wasn't walking around Capernaum in a three-piece suit, He did live His life fully for the glory of God.
Therefore, in every decision we know He asked the question, "How will God be most glorified in this?"
And that is my question to you. Do you dress in such a way that maximizes your Christian influence, shows that you know the job at hand, and shows that you are committed to what God has called you to?
In other words, do you dress to the glory of God?
Jason Dees is senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Covington. He can be reached at 770-786-9031 or www.firstbaptistcovington.com.