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Pastors, Don’t Worry about Stickers on Helmets

An empty high school football field
You and I know Pastors who are awarded tons of stickers. They deserve them. I think the Apostle Paul’s helmet would have been about full. But at the end, he only talked about the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, would award to him at that Day—and also to you, and to me, and to all who long for His appearing.

When you watch college football, you notice the stickers on some helmets.

Some have a helmet full of stickers/ Others have a few, or none. We all know the name of the quarterback. Or the guy who reaches out for a 27-yard pass and crosses the goal line. But what about the poor center? Or the left tackle taking all the hits week after week. Does their empty helmet space mean they haven’t done much? Or that they really haven’t done anything measurable at all?

Even the TV coverage is always on the quarterback or the guy breaking a tackle for the first down or the receiver with the amazing one-handed catch. The camera never focuses on the offensive end hoisting himself off the turf after opening a hole for the running back. Nobody’s smacking the right guard on the back.

Could anyone here name the center for the TCU Horned Frogs?

Maybe you noticed there are very few stickers for these workhorses. They are “just” faithfully doing their job. I’m thinking they love the game. They’re grateful to be able to play. They realize there are various skill sets. They know their position is important.

Because of their attitude, they suit up every time, practice ferociously and perform like it’s their last game. They might not get a sticker. They know it’s all about the Team.

Fulfilling our calling

Sort-of like Pastors? Are there any of us who think we are the best in the world church? We stepped forward because for some reason we were interested. In the corner of our mind stand the “others” who would probably be better at it. But we couldn’t deny the desire that was in us. We thought, “I can do it. I’m going to.” We felt a call.

Over the years there have been very few weekdays when I didn’t think how I could have improved last Sunday’s sermons. How many times—always later! —I pictured handling a situation better. Many times I cringed and wished I had treated someone differently. Would my relationship with my dear wife and dear kids be different if I were a plumber or an attorney? And most concerning, why hasn’t there been greater measurable response to my ministering?

I (most often) did the best I knew how. I’m still climbing that learning curve. I don’t Pastor because I need a job. My attitude has always been that I would willingly step aside if someone else came to replace me. I do have the desire and I do have the ability to Pastor. “The only ability you need is availability” is true if I make myself available to play the position I’m assigned.

I believe I am being faithful to the call God has given me. And so I encourage you to be faithful to your call, too.

Stay focused on your work, not the notoriety of others

“You play the way you practice.” I didn’t know that. My theory was if I evaded the Coach’s eye, it didn’t matter if I goofed off during practice. I’d really turn it up during the game. Not so. The same with our preaching. Nothing beats careful preparation. I would write out my sermons word for word. In my first congregation, when everyone was asleep at 11:30 on a Saturday night, I would go to the Church and practice walking up, sitting down, smiling at the people, announcing the songs and preach through my whole sermon. Slowly I got better at it. I still write sermons out to sharpen the content and gauge the length. Preparation matters, so make time for it.

“I’m going to be the best 6th man in the NBA.” I forget who said it first, but now you can get an award for being it. I sat on the bench and thought that because I didn’t start, I wasn’t very good. Years later, when I first heard the “best 6th man” thing, I realized I had short-changed myself. No more. I am surrounded by Pastors more skilled than I. I evaluate myself and my opportunities and work at being the best Ren I know how. It helps not to look sideways as much as I used to. But stay focused on the work entrusted to you, not the notoriety of others.

You and I know Pastors who are awarded tons of stickers. They deserve them. I think the Apostle Paul’s helmet would have been about full. But at the end, he only talked about the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge, would award to him at that Day—and also to you, and to me, and to all who long for His appearing. (II Timothy 4: 8)

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