As spring training continues and players prepare for the start of the Major League Baseball season, every team has two kinds of players—established starters and role players. The fourth outfielder who also occasionally DHs and the utility infielder are examples. In fact, I have heard big league ballplayers say that the more gloves (infield glove, outfield glove, first baseman’s mitt) you bring to the park, the better your chance at a long career (like Chone Figgins with, first, the Angels, and now the Mariners). Why? Because a team only has so many starters—leaving the rest of the squad with a challenge. They must understand their role and accept it. Perhaps it is as a pinch runner who puts pressure on the defense, or a designated bunter who comes up to move a runner into scoring position. Make no mistake—each of these role players wants to be a starter, but not everyone can. The rest must learn to understand and accept their role, instead of being angry or bitter about not starting. Starters and role players alike need to perform their roles the best they can for the team to have success.
When I think of role players in the Bible, I think of John the Baptizer. He came as the messenger who would announce the arrival of the Christ—a heady responsibility and one that brought him much fame in his day. Yet, in the midst of that acclaim, he never lost sight of his role. When asked if he was, in fact the Messiah, John responded:
And he preached, saying, “There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:7-8)
John never lost sight of who he was—or of who he wasn’t. He understood his role, and embraced it with contentment. Likewise in the Body of Christ, we are all members but we all have different roles and different gifts. Paul challenged the Corinthians to not lament the gifts/roles they did not have but to give themselves fully to the role they had received from the Lord. Like a baseball team, the Body of Christ will never function effectively until we learn, like John, to understand and be content with our role… and it can begin today. Ask a pastor, close Christian friend, spouse—”where do you see me fitting in the Body?” Then, get to work.
Join us tomorrow on Sports Spectrum radio as we take a further look at the need for healthy perspective as we embrace our own roles in life.
Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain