Paul, Jordan and Snowboarding
I Timothy 1:18, 19a
I am giving you these instructions, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies made earlier about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, having faith and a good conscience.
As I was driving home after a great weekend of snowboarding with the senior high students (everyone else was skiing), I was listening to sports talk. The broadcaster was talking about Michael Jordan, one, if not the greatest basketball player of all time. They were talking about Jordan’s play and how Jordan said that despite his athletic ability when he was younger, he was able to dunk from the free-throw line, he was a much better player when her was older and not as athletic.
Jordan said when he was young he could jump high and run fast and he with his athleticism could do anything. It wasn’t until he “lost a step” and could no longer rely strictly on his pure athleticism, that he became one of the games greatest players including winning 6 Championships. What changed? How he played the game. Without being able to rely strictly on himself being the most athletic person on the court he relied more on his knowledge of the game. He went on to say that he became a better shooter, passer, rebounder and team player the older he got, because he realized that it wasn’t just about him being the best, but rather being the best as part of a team.
I mention this because as I was listening to this I thought, how true that was for the weekend I spent away with the Sr. High skiing. For many years, despite having other leaders, I felt as though I had to do everything. I had to try to keep up with the best skiers, while taking care of those who don’t ski as well. I would have been the one waking everyone up and getting breakfast started, we eat hot breakfast not cereal, and upon returning to camp, I would have been the one who made sure dinner was started and cleaned up. I too would have tried to stay up the entire time to talk with students and simply hang out. Making for a very long and exhausting weekend.
However this trip was different. I didn’t buy the groceries. I did very little cooking. I had no notion of trying to keep up with the best skiers, as I am not very good and have the black eye from the mountain to prove it. I also didn’t have to teach those who didn’t ski as well how to ski. Other leaders on the trip did all of that. In fact, when we got back to the cabin we had appetizers waiting for us, which was amazing, and something that I never could have done while being on the mountain with the students. It helped that we had a great group of students, but the leadership help provide an environment for the best of our students to come out.
These two stories aren’t just two isolated events? This is the story of our lives, careers, parenting, friendships and even our church. Paul writes his first letter to Timothy, as he is getting older in his ministry. Paul is unable to do the things that he used to do, not only because of age, but because his situation, being in prison. Because of that he realizes that he can no longer continue to do ministry the way he had done it when he was younger, and start training and teaching others who are much younger than him, like Timothy, to continue the work that Christ started in him. In doing so, Paul continues Christ ministry to the next generation of leaders.
Often times in the church, we think we have to do it all. We continue to do things the same way for years, because we don’t have the same energy we had when we were younger to create something new, so we do what we know. As we get older, we need to realize that we can’t simply rely on our energy and eagerness to make things happen, we need to rely on others, even those who we might not typically think about.
For me as I walked into this ski trip I had notes from previous trips and two people, one works with the youth and the other who had been on the ski trip before to help make plans and pull the trip together. However our other leader gratefully fell into my lap, weeks before we left. Little did I know before a fateful conversation that our other leader had taught cooking with high school students, had a ministry of hospitality and still enjoys working with senior high students. Our students had a great time on the trip, it wasn’t because of me, I wish it was, but because of the team that came together for the same purpose.
The same is true for the church. As we move forward in ministry together we need to realize that we are in it together. If we aren’t plugged in maybe we need to stop waiting for someone to ask and simply volunteer. If we are involved, maybe we need to start looking for those who aren’t in our circle of connections to find people who are waiting to be asked. We all need to do our part to advance the gospel, if we want to be great, if we want to see the church to continue to grow and reach out into the world, we need so stop doing things all by ourselves, or relying on others to do it for us, and start working together. If we are willing to work together as one church we can become the church that God has called us to be.