Dirt Off Your Shoulders | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
August 2010

Dirt Off Your Shoulders

By: Deena Marie Hamilton
Music is a very important component of our lives and worship. Music has the power to make or break a worship service. Many of us have heard the expression music tames the savage beast. Well it can. It calms, restores, and motivates us.

While the world mourns the passing of a musical icon, we remember the way that Michael Jackson, despite all his eccentricity, has influenced pop culture and music. His music continues to soothe my broken heart, teaches me about the man in the mirror, and helps me realize that I am not alone. I was wowed by the Thriller video, mesmerized by how the sidewalk lit up in his Billie Jean video, and I just thought that he walked on air when the King of Pop did the moonwalk. In the world of pop culture and music, Michael Jackson’s contributions may never be surpassed. Continuing on with how music has had an influence on culture, I can’t help think about hip-hop and rap. The first name that I can think of on a personal level is Tupac Shakur. The contributions that he has made lyrically to music were phenomenal, but one of my favorite rappers has to be Shawn Corey Carter who is also known as Jay-Z.

I remember one day when I was working in a production lab at a hazardous waste corporation during the graveyard shift. The thing that I like the most about that job was that I could listen to music all night long. One night I was listening to music on a mix CD, and I was really at a crossroads in my life. I was going through the candidacy process in becoming a local licensed pastor. It was a pivotal time for me in my life because I was thinking… Is all this worth doing? Every time I make a conscious effort to be a better person there’s always a person or situation trying to bring me down.

I was listening to a song by Jay-Z called “Dirt Off Your Shoulders.” At that time in my life there was always somebody trying to discourage me, turn me around, and deplete my spirit, but I was on fire for serving God. In this song Jay-Z understood that some people were going to be jealous while others would cheer. Some situations would be monumental while others trivial. But either way it goes, we must take things in stride because of who we are. Because of Who we belong to, we should adopt that same way of thinking. We’re the King’s kids. We need to do our thing and do it well.

Even though I feel that I experienced a spiritual epiphany, Jesus tells us in Matthew 5 that when you do things for the kingdom, suffering and hardship should not be a surprise, but expected. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5: 3-6 NIV) “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12 NIV)

This is something that is very comforting because sometimes we feel like our problems are unique to ourselves. Our problems can make us feel isolated from God when we are not because Christ understands how things can be. Times may change, but people don’t.

Christ also tells us that when people are not receptive of what we are lead to do for God, then we need to just shake the dust off our feet and not worry about it; this type of rejection is just a testimony against them (Mark 6:11).

So if you feel called to minster, go and brush your shoulders off. Women are called as well; go and brush your shoulders off. When people are too busy to hear what we’re saying or doing, we need to get, that, dirt off our shoulders.

See more devotions from Deena Marie and our other Young Adult writers, or find our how you can become a writer yourself at our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.