Recently I’ve been going back through a series of articles I wrote early in my ministry here at Marshfield Christian Church. Some of those articles have needed some updating to address the progress we’ve made as a community of faith in the past six years since they were originally published. We’ve again reached the end of the series, and as I have read and reflected on these words, I find them to be as appropriate for us as they were years ago.
So, without further ado, I offer you the final in our series of articles about our church using the vowels as our inspiration. So far we have talked about the importance of having a vision for the church, knowing what we’re about; how important it is that we be focused on evangelism; the power of following through on our goals with intention; the essential nature of outreach into our community and the world; and the need to be identifiable to others.
With A, E, I, O, and U under our belts we’re left with Y, the “sometimes vowel.” Although “Y” may only be a vowel sometimes, it is possibly the most important letter for us to consider as we think about our life as a church. Y stands for you.
Each person in the life of this church is of special importance. Each one of us is the “most important” person to God, each and every moment of every day. That’s an amazing thing. To be at the top of God’s list is cool. But, before we get too excited about being number one, let’s remember that there is no number two. None of us is any more, or any less, important than anyone else. That can be a hard thing to wrap your mind around, especially having grown up in a culture where there are defined winners and losers, and where tying is considered only a slightly more palatable way of losing.
I grew up believing, and still believe, that I was a winner, with unique talents and gifts. Several years ago, I learned that being unique didn’t make me more important than anyone else. While working as an engineer at a radio station, I was the one they called when something went wrong in the wee hours of the morning. Over the years I had rewired and fixed so many pieces of equipment that I was the only one who really knew how everything was (or wasn’t) connected. Slowly, over time, I had come to believe that I was irreplaceable, that the station would be lost without me. I began to believe that my special knowledge of the station, my gifts and talents made me somehow “better” than anyone else.
Then God’s call to ministry became irresistible. I knew at the core of my being that I needed to go to seminary. So, what did I do? I chose the seminary that would allow me to keep my job at the radio station, to maintain my sense of importance, while studying for a career in ministry. Well, it didn’t take long to realize that I needed some practical experience to go along with my education. I began looking for a job in ministry, and after being accepted to a position, began training my replacement at the radio station. I
came face-to-face with the fact that I wasn’t irreplaceable.
The radio station is still running fine, years after I’ve gone. Does that mean I wasn’t important? No. I was an important part of that organization. But, I wasn’t more, or less, important than anyone else. Likewise, each and every one of us is important to the life of this church; but, not more, or less, important than anyone else. I, for one, am thankful for that!