Warming the Bench
By Joan Walker Hahn
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. Romans 12:6-8 NASB
I was recently thinking about a time when my daughter played softball. She played throughout elementary and high school on school teams and community teams, at different positions on the field. Most often she played second base, right field and she pitched.
One season she had a coach who very seldom put her on the field. She was frustrated, and as a protective mom, I was frustrated because she was frustrated. She felt like the coach didn’t like her. She thought she must be an awful player if he didn’t allow her to play.
We finally questioned him at one point and he seemed to be taken by surprise. His answer was he didn’t see her as a second baseman or right fielder. He saw her as his relief pitcher. He saw her as valuable. He said that if he allowed her to play another position until he needed her to fill in for the starting pitcher, he risked her getting hurt and then he would be without his relief pitcher.
Although she didn’t like warming the bench while others seemed to be having all the fun, when she was called upon, she was fresh and eager, and ultimately performed well as a pitcher. She was still part of the team and had a specific task to perform.
Sports teams often have “specialty” players whose task is to perform in one assigned area. When they are not performing in that one area, they are on the bench.
Think about these facts I had to look up. In football, only eleven players are on the field at one time, even though a football roster can list fifty-three team players. Basketball has five players on the court at one time with twelve players on the roster. Baseball has nine players on the field, but an active roster of twenty-five players. The point I am making is that not everyone is a starter. While a limited number of team players are on the field or court, there are even more on the sidelines. They’re suited up, equipped, prepared to play, but warming the bench, nevertheless.
But each member of that team does the same thing. They practice, practice, and practice some more. They get coached and taught how to handle various situations. They get equipped with the proper gear. They show up prepared to play and wait for the coach to give them directions. They don’t wait until the coach calls their name to get suited up. No, they are ready to go the moment they are called.
We are to be that way spiritually. The Lord could call us at any moment to speak to someone who needs to hear of His love. He could need us at any moment to be His hands and feet. Some people serve fulltime in a ministry and may be “starters on the court,” but we all are to be ready at a moment’s notice to serve ever how God leads. Just because we are not in the limelight, doesn’t mean we are not to serve.
I know some young moms who feel like they are not actively serving God because all of their time is devoted to their homes and families. They feel like they are just in the background, warming the bench. We need to remember that God gives us different roles, different spiritual gifts. Some are teachers, some preachers, some the gift of hospitality, and more. The point is, we are not to compare ourselves with each other. We each need to be suited up, equipped, prepared for whatever comes our way. And if that means we are at times on the bench, we are still to be prepared. We need to stay in His Word, continue to pray without ceasing, and when He has a task for us to do, we will be ready.
Heavenly Father, please forgive me for comparing myself with others. Sometimes I feel like I am not accomplishing much for You. But then You remind me that You have uniquely equipped me in ways that others are not equipped to serve You. May we be ever ready and prepared to serve in whatever way You lead. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
For more encouragement, visit Joan at joanwalkerhahn.com.
© 2020 by Joan Walker Hahn. All rights reserved.
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