2 Timothy 2:1-2 – You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. (NIV)
I was waiting for my children to come out from some lessons at the Leisure Centre. From the comfort of my van, I watched the boys with bikes, scooters, and skate boards practicing their tricks at the skate park. A boy in the air here; one in the air there; up, down, round and round — I got to thinking what fun that could be. With the right skill level and the willingness to risk a skinned elbow, someone could have a lot of fun at a skate park. Maybe I missed out.
But how intimidating a place a skate park must be for newcomers! A group of boys and young men hanging out, showing off tricks that took hours to master, walking around the park as if they own it — how would new guys ever become good enough to be comfortable there? They can't get skate park skills anywhere else! How would anyone have the courage to begin? It must be worth the initial embarrassment of failure in front of the accomplished crowd. The payoffs of the experience must outweigh the risk of being rejected and humiliated. It must be really rewarding!
As an adult with no skate skills, I still couldn't get my head around who would ever want to go to a skate park in the first place. But then, who would ever want to get involved in a church in the first place? It takes a lot of risk and time to develop the skills to stick our neck out and pursue the call that God lays on our hearts to work in our churches.
To investigate further, I got out of my van and went over to the skate park. I asked the boys what it was like to begin there. They said it was all right; if they hung around enough, they got to know each other. There was a bit of taunting and mild ridicule, but also the guys who knew a lot would show the others new tricks. And it was important that those who were good were also not too cocky. I asked if new guys or young guys had a rough time getting into the group. They said not too much — it was worth putting in their time until they got better, and mostly, it was something that they really liked doing.
Wouldn't it be great if serving in a church were like that — if the intimidated new folk who just want to get in on the action were able to learn the tricks along the way from the ones who've been around long enough to gather some really sharp skills? For that to be so, there need to be folks who will show newcomers the ropes — people who have skills, who aren't afraid to use them, and who are not cocky about it. And those who are just beginning to learn the ropes need to overcome their fear of jumping in. Those at a skate park can't learn to skate if they don't take the risk, and we can't learn to work among God's people without risking our heart and our hopes.
I am thankful that with all the stumbling and bumbling we do, God's got our back. Ultimately, it is our Creator who gave us our gifts, knows our potential, and calls us to serve in His Church. And so, when we say "yes" to that call, but intimidation, too much risk, and fear of failure take hold of us, we need to remember that God knit us together in our mother's womb and made us for this purpose, and He will not forsake us. Take some time to rest in the assurance of Christ's peace and joy, and remember that in all our failings, scrapes, and crashes, our only source of healing, energy, and guidance comes from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit alive in our lives. Say "yes" again, and jump in!
Prayer: O Lord Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, do not let us stray from You, the Way, nor distrust You, the Truth, nor rest in anything other than You, the Life. Amen. — Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)