All my life I have been a really big sports fan, and I’ve always been interested in the work of teams. I’ve read business books on teams, tried to figure out what makes teams successful and why they fail. You find teams throughout all realms of life, from sports, to the work place and yes even in church work. Teams are made up with unique individuals, and each person has to play a key role in the team to make the project or ministry event successful. Often times the person, who some say has a “thankless jobs” or the role that is behind the scenes, is often the person with the most important role.
Like most churches, we have a weekly staff meeting where everyone shares what the Lord did through our church in the previous week. I’ll never forget this one meeting a few years ago, where it became a thank you to everyone in the room for the success of a huge ministry event, expect for those who have the “thankless jobs” (production team, finance office, setup team– those types of roles). Ministers and other staff members kept saying how so and so did a great job with the project, but they never got around to thanking the key individuals who made the project really happen. I visited with one of the staff members who failed to get thanked publicly following the meeting, and thanked them for the hard work and the multiple hours put in for the job. After I finished encouraging them and thanking them, their only response to me was, “I was just doing my job.” That is a simple response, but it is one that Christ expects out of everyone on a church staff team, just show up, be prepared and do your job.
We’ve seen before in scripture when normal everyday people just showed up, were prepared, did their job and the Lord used them for His glory. These stories are very familiar especially to someone serving on a church staff, but I think the roles of a few, we overlook, they have the “thankless roles”.
We pick the story up right before Christ enters Jerusalem in Luke 19:30-34, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ “Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt? “They replied, “The Lord needs it.”
Do you ever wonder what was going through the mind of the owner of that colt? Do you think maybe the Lord spoke to him more than once about the colt? Maybe He said, “This is a special colt, I’ll need it one day so keep it healthy and make sure no one rides it”. I am sure day after day the owner of the colt fed the colt wondering when the Lord would use it, and he kept the colt healthy. He did what he was asked to do by the Lord; he showed up and was prepared to be used.
We find a similar occurrence-taking place later in Luke, when the disciples are looking for a room to have the Passover meal. Christ tells the disciples to find the man carrying the jar of water who has an upper room. Do you think that maybe when the man was building his house, the Lord told Him to build an upper room that someday he would use it? Maybe his neighbors made fun of him for building an upper room or the city zoning committee gave him a hard time for wanting to build an upper room. The man who carried the jar of water, showed up, was prepared and was ready to do his job for the Lord.
As a church staff member no matter what our role is from Senior Pastor, to Business Administrator, to Youth Intern, to Housekeeping- we can model the roles of these we read about. We can show up, do our jobs and be prepared. As a staff team we need to always encourage those around us, making sure they are doing their job well. The Lord may need them to play a key position in a huge ministry event in the future. We do not know what the Lord is orchestrating and what role we might play in kingdom building later down the road. So be encouraged today, what you may think is a meaningless task, or thankless job is actually something ordained by Christ. He needs you to complete your task well and to do your job well. You may be preparing the next upper room.