My two older boys are playing baseball this spring and both are really enjoying it. However, for my oldest it has been an experience in growth of character and patience. You see, he moved up into a new age bracket this year. He is now one of the youngest players on the team. Whereas in years past he has been among the biggest and most talented on the team, this year he is the shortest, far from the fastest, and not the most developed technically.
Therefore, it was with sadness a couple of weeks ago that he was told he would be playing in the outfield for the most part this year. For young kids, being told to play the outfield is like being told to stand in the corner and watch everyone else play. In their minds, it is the same as being told you are not as good or useful as other players on the team. However, such could not be further from the truth.
I tried to explain to my son that every position is there for a reason and has value, and without someone in that position it would be impossible to win the game; but he just couldn’t see it… until the first ballgame. He started the game in right field, and part of his responsibility was to back up first base on throws across the infield. After two plays backing up the position correctly (which kept runners from advancing, and, in turn, scoring) he looked at me and said that he didn’t think right field was so bad after all. He finally saw the value in it.
The exact same lesson needs to be learned within the church as it pertains to roles and responsibilities. Paul discusses the various gifts and abilities Christians have in Romans 12:4-8. There are things that some members of the body of Christ can do for which I am not equipped and vice versa. Understanding such is the essence of being able to function as the body of Christ.
It must be understood that “all members have not the same office” (Vs. 4). We all work together as a team, as “members one of another” (Vs. 5), and we all have value in our given areas. Just as with a baseball team, where everyone does not have to be the biggest or the fastest to have great value, so it is with us.
All of us may not be capable of delivering a sermon from the pulpit, leading a song, or teaching a Bible class, but that by no means insinuates that we have no value. For that card sent, that call to the sick, those words of encouragement, that food for the grieving, or that invitation to the lost soul is of just as great a value as all of the other works that are done, and it serves to complete the functions of the body.
While my son has learned a good life lesson on what it means to be a part of a team and to do his job to the best of his ability; the same lessons also need to be applied to our lives as Christians so that we can be fully effective for the cause of Christ. Let us never downplay or demean the usefulness and value of a child of God simply because they are not doing the same things we are. Let us instead lift them up and encourage them to further develop their strengths and be thankful for all they do for the cause of Christ.
My hometown pastor preached on this topic a few weeks ago. God is consistent with His message!