“But his officers tried to reason with him and said, ‘Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!'” — 2 Kings 5:13 (NLT)
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In my eight seasons with the Halifax Mooseheads, some of the people I have admired the most around the rink are the equipment staff. They’re the first to arrive at the rink, making sure the locker room is set up in an orderly fashion, and the last to leave after packing the equipment van. A lot of the fans in the stands wouldn’t know who they are and they’re rarely featured in articles or highlight reels, but these guys play such an important part in making the team a success. From the outside, their role can seem unglamorous and simple, yet the players, coaches and management know how invaluable the equipment staff truly is.
We live in a society today that puts a huge amount of value on fame and being noticed. We post every detail of our lives on social media to glamorize and self-aggrandize. In fact, I was listening to a documentary on CBC Radio years ago where they talked about the link between self-image and mental health issues. They sited a survey taken amongst high school students in the 1950s compared to the 2000s. The students were asked whether they thought they were special or extraordinary. Only 17% of the students in the 50s answered “yes.” Among students in the 2000s, somewhere between 60-70% answered that they thought they were extraordinary.
One of the conclusions this documentary came to was that a reason why so many first-year college students struggled was because they had an elevated view of self caused by constantly being told they were “special” by their parents. When the reality hit that they weren’t as extraordinary as they had previously thought, they struggled with issues of self-worth, perseverance, anxiety and depression.
I wonder how many of us in the Church struggle with God’s purpose and plan for our lives simply because we consider ourselves too important to take on the humble roles and serve God in the simplest of ways.
This attitude if self-importance is on full display in the story of the healing of Naaman in 2 Kings 5. Naaman was the commander of the king of Aram’s army, but even though he was a mighty warrior, he suffered from leprosy. One day, the Israelite maid of Naaman’s wife suggested he go see the prophet of Israel, Elisha, for healing. With the king’s blessing, he sets out with gifts and a letter from the king of Aram addressed to the king of Israel, with instructions to heal Naaman. The king of Israel sends Naaman directly to Elisha to heal his leprosy.
However, Naaman gets upset when Elisha simply sends a messenger to tell him to simply wash himself in the Jordan River seven times. Naaman storms away angry because he expected to be met in person with more pomp and regalia. Thankfully, his officers managed to reason with him and convince him to listen to Elisha. “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply go wash and be cured” (2 Kings 5:13, NLT). In his simple obedience, Naaman’s skin is healed and becomes as healthy as the skin of a young child.
Whether you’re new to church or just getting back to in-person activities following the pandemic, you may be struggling to figure out where and how to serve. Maybe you lack confidence and are afraid God can’t use you because you don’t have any special skills or are too broken. But we’re reminded in 2 Corinthians 12:9 that God’s grace is all we need, and His power works best in our weakness. So pray that God would help you be bold enough to serve Him in a faithful, humble way.
Or maybe you’re more like Naaman and your pride is getting in the way of the Lord using you. Maybe you are a big deal in your school or job outside the church, or maybe you’ve served in big roles in the past. If this is you, repent and remember Jesus came to earth as a lowly servant. Volunteer to take on simple roles. Maybe that’s serving coffee to people before church on Sunday morning or packing care packages at your local mission. If you don’t meet in a church building, maybe join the setup and teardown team.
None of these roles may seem as glamorous as serving on a worship team or a church board, but I know people who have come to Christ that have specifically mentioned greeters and others in humble, voluntary roles as being someone God used in their journey of faith. Some of these people have gone on to be pastors and great influences in ministry. God rewards faithfulness far more than skill (see the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30).
Most of all, God wants to restore this world and in His grace He wants to do that through us, so don’t allow your ego to stop Him from using you. You never know how He can use your simple act of obedience to affect eternity.
— Andrew Pepper, Halifax Mooseheads chaplain
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