“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Paul, Romans 12:3-10, ESV
Everyone, at some point, has probably played on some kind of a team. I am absolutely no good at sports: any of them. But I was in band. I played clarinet. Now I can understand how to play a woodwind instrument: you put your fingers here, and do this with your mouth, and breathe and play. I can play technically; I can play with feeling. I can kind of understand how to play the trumpet. There are only three buttons to hold down or leave up. You have to do all of the rest of the work with your mouth, with your embouchure. But I absolutely cannot understand how anyone can play the trombone. How do you know when to stop the slide? How do you know you’re going to hit the right note? Can you feel it? Is there a stop? What do you do? I sure hope that for trombonists it’s easy, and they wonder how one can play a clarinet with so many buttons, holes and keys.
In sports, you have a role, or a job, on a team. I can’t help coach my son’s soccer team. I don’t even know what the players are called! But I do know that my experience as a high school musician help me understand the concept of team. I could play clarinet by myself and play a pretty solo. I could play with a small group and be part of an ensemble. I could play with the band, every musician with different gifts, led and guided by our director and together make beautiful music. Even more fun for me was being part of the symphonic orchestra, when band and orchestra came together, and even more, the pit band for musicals! A clarinet, a flute, some percussion, some brass and voices! Together, we did something fun and amazing that we couldn’t do alone. Each instrument played his part, no one unimportant, all working together for a greater good.
In the body of Christ, we are all differently gifted by the Spirit in Baptism for the sake of God’s Kingdom. On a church staff, God brings together a team to work together for His church. Even in a church with only one paid staff member, there is still always a team working together: boards, committees, altar guilds, elders, council, ushers, greeters, etc.
There are situations when we do church work alone: listening to a troubled teenager in a coffee shop, leading a Bible study or children’s message, teaching a group of adults God’s Word or typing in an office. (But even then we aren’t truly alone: we are accompanied, of course, by the Holy Spirit.) But in the big picture, God puts us into teams, and we work together. I cannot do what my pastors do; I cannot do exactly what our other DCE does; I cannot do what my husband does; I cannot do what our congregational president or treasurer do (especially the treasurer—that’s up there with trombone in difficulty.)
One of my pastors continually reminds me that God has brought me specifically to this place at this time. (“And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?’” –Mordecai to Esther, Esther 4:14, ESV) Not my predecessor, not another DCE, not a different church worker. Me. God wants me here, now, to do His work in this context. God must be smart enough to know what He is doing!
But moreover, more than God has gifted me and wants me here, working for Him, God has gifted my team, others at this church, and allows me to rely on them! God put us together on purpose, with His purposes in mind. God gifts me with people, and allows them to be in my life for my personal blessing, but also to bless His church. Working together, we will serve our Lord.