Football is a great sport and I love being a spectator in the stands of a close game. There is excitement and energy in the air if all the conditions are right. However, you can multiply that feeling times ten if you can actually get out on the field as a participant!
Exciting To Be A Participant
Before you let your mind wander, I am not referring to running out on the field in your birthday suit! While it might be electric, that is a long way from the picture I am trying to paint!
What I mean is that it is much more fun and fulfilling to actually get out on the field and play IN the sport than it is to watch it. If you have ever played a sport, then you know what I mean. There simply is no comparison between being a spectator and a participant.
Participant Or Spectator?
The same is true of our faith. I mentioned in my last post that too many Christians feel they have fulfilled their obligations when they financially support the ministry of the church. However, they are no different than the person who paid for tickets, parking pass, and refreshments at the game. They have both financially supported the team, but they are still just spectators.
So what does it look like to be a participant rather than a spectator when it comes to our faith? What are the various roles we can play?
Various Participant Roles
Obviously, not everyone can be a quarterback or star linebacker. Fortunately, there are many more opportunities to be a participant than this. Let’s look at a few potential positions for a participant – and their counterpart in the business world.
Star Player – This one is fairly obvious. This player is actually in the game running plays and scoring or defending. Star players get most of the publicity and recognition. They have the skills and talent necessary to perform physically at levels many of us cannot perform.
In the business world, this person may be someone with a leadership position that appears to have more opportunity for influence than the rest of us. They know all the right people and they are exercising their faith at levels most of us believe are above our potential. We all probably aspire to get to this level, but many of us will not get there – at least not on our own!
Background Players – These players make up the majority of those on the field. They are not stars, but without them the stars would not succeed. With solid basics of “blocking and tackling,” these players advance the progress of their team. They are also “making plays” of their own, but these don’t often get the attention of anyone but the opposing coaches!
Anyone actively trying to exercise their faith in the business world falls into this category. Maybe they are not in the spotlight, but they are participants all the same. The seemingly small contributions they make on a daily basis are certainly effective at advancing the cause of the team!
Support Personnel – These individuals include the 2nd string and scout team players who are usually sitting on the bench or standing on the sidelines during the game. They may be working just as hard at practice as the rest of the players, but for whatever reasons do not have the skills or experience necessary to get out on the field for a game.
Maybe they are support personnel that manage the equipment or wrap twisted ankles between plays. They could even be the ones who serve the pre-game or post-game meals or drive the team bus. Again, they are not the stars, but they perform crucial roles as a part of the overall team!
The parallel positions in the workplace might be those who are not yet comfortable sharing their faith with a colleague. They are working hard to learn how, but they still need training.
Maybe they are members of a small group that help to ask crucial accountability questions of those in categories above. They could be serving in the church nursery or providing childcare for small groups during the week. They could even be the ones providing janitorial services for a business that is on the front lines of Christian ministry.
Coaches – It is not hard to spot coaches on the sideline of a football game. They are holding the clipboards and wearing headphones. They are calling out the plays and giving constant instruction to the players. What may not be obvious is the countless hours they put in around the clock in order to provide the necessary strategy and instruction that leads to more hours of leading practices!
While there can certainly be glory in this position, more often than not these participants give more than anyone notices. If you don’t believe me, just ask their spouses!
In the business setting, these people are the leaders of leaders. These are the people that probably “played” on the field at one time and now spend much of their time teaching others how to do it. They are the disciple-makers that can truly see the big picture.
Parallels For You
While I recognize this analogy is not perfect, I hope you can see the parallels. I also hope you can see where you fit into the picture as a participant. The cool thing is that in many cases, you can advance through these various positions. At the same time, that is not necessarily the goal.
If it were the goal, then Paul would not have explained that all parts of the body are necessary and deserving of praise. Sure, some positions get more recognition than others, but that is not the end goal.
The End Goal
The end goal is to fill the position to which God has called you. It may be that He designed you to be on the support staff for the duration of your time on earth. If so, embrace it! You are doing His will.
It also may be true that He wants you to progress through the positions. This is not better or worse than anyone else. You are not more or less valuable than anyone else that remains in one position. All are worthy of hearing, “Well done!”
What you cannot do is to decide to remain in support staff if God has called you to be a star player. Just as in the parable of the talents, you are going to be held accountable according to what He has given you.
Get Out Of The Stands!
The worst you can do is to remain in the stands as a spectator. You are called to be a participant. Accept this call and climb down out of the stands. There is a uniform waiting for you!
Do you feel you know your role as a participant?
What steps do you need to take to be a participant?
When are you going to start?