On Sunday, I began my sermon with a story about my basic training in the Air Force. I had been out of high school about a year and needed to do something about my future, so I went to an Air Force recruiter to inquire about enlisting. One thing I had to do was lose some weight to qualify. I was a bit husky (the older euphemism used of plump short guys). I had to get down to 160 lbs. I did. So in June of 1977, I shipped off to to Lackland AFB in Texas for basic training.
Earlier, for the Children’s Message, I told the kids about some of my high school soccer history. At our school there were only two sports options, ballet or soccer. Well, I wasn’t going to do ballet, so soccer it was. But, I was very short and kind of husky. (See why Ballet would never have worked.) But, I wasn’t a runner. Certainly, not as fast as other guys my age. But I trained and trained, practiced and practiced. And, sat on the bench the whole first year. So, I practiced all summer on my own—and low and behold, I made varsity the next Fall. The coach said, “You’re not as fast or long winded as the others, but you leave it all out on the field like no one else.” (The lesson for the kids was along the lines of living life fully, etc.) This also set up my Air Force illustration for the adults later as I began my sermon.
Back at Air Force basic training, one thing we all had to do was run a mile under a certain time to graduate. The day came and we lined up as a squad to run our mile. The bulk of us did it in formation—yes, it took me some extra commitment to keep up, but I wasn’t going to let anyone think my size or even my husky-ness would slow me down. Most of us finished in well under the time. A few stranglers came in a few moments later. But there was one guy way behind. He was a big guy and heavy (can’t say husky for a tall male). Odds were, he wasn’t going to make it in time. So a few—three if I remember—of us got back up, although already exhausted, and started running and caught up to him on the track. We ran with him, all the while, encouraging, “You got this,” “Don’t you dare give up,” and the like. I ran most of his remaining yards (one full round the track) backwards, encouraging him to keep it up. I was not going to let him fail. He didn’t!
This story was the point I was to draw out of Judges 2, the text of my sermon (the application, the call to the congregation). Leaders don’t let people fail. Leaders leave it all on the field to ensure no one fails. This is my leadership role here at CPC in The Hill. I’ll leave it all out on the field to ensure (or at least to do my best so) no one fails. This is the kind of leadership church needs. This is what our kids need (I pointed back to where the kids sat for my children’s message). This is what our Hill neighbors need, church leaders that leave it all on the field of service so that people in the Hill won’t fail.
Whatever God has given you isn’t for you, that is, if indeed God has given it—talent, schooling, a job, blessings, whatever—it is always for others. This is how God's kingdom works. This is how Christian and church leaders understand who they are and how God equips them for others; giving whatever it takes (to the best of our ability, through God’s grace and enabling) to ensure others don’t fail. Especially not failing in their walk of faith and in their service for church.
*Of course I made it work more directly in view of what God was doing to ensure His promises to Abraham (i.e., that all the families of the earth would be blessed) are fulfilled through Israel. As gentiles, we can be thankful that He did. So, He raises up leaders . . .
Wasted Blogger, Chip M. Anderson
I am the pastor and church planter for Christ Presbyterian Church in The Hill; a flawed practitioner of Wasted Evangelism. I am learning about Wasted Evangelism through my experience in The Hill and through the good people of CPC in The Hill.