"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."The apostle Paul says we all have a role in the Church, the Body of Christ, even if we don’t think our particular role is important. A lot of us wish we could job swap, either because we’re sick of our own job (and I can think of a couple of times this past week when I felt that way) or because we think we’re capable of being the boss. But sometimes God has a way of reminding us we’re in the spot we belong, and sometimes, we’re not cut out to be the boss.
Take what happened to me last February. Many of you know I’m a historical re-enactor, and among other things, I portray a Confederate soldier.
The 1st Virginia Volunteer Infantry got together in the West Valley of Phoenix for a demonstration to homeschool groups. We had about 60 families or so. We spent a lot of time interacting with them one-on-one, answering questions about us and our uniforms and our weapons. Then we drilled and marched a little and pretended to fire our weapons (pretended because we couldn’t fire powder with so many homes close by). Then came the time to let the young ones march and drill with broom handles, and suddenly, I was promoted all the way up in rank from private to captain. A mixture of adults and kids fell into my company -- company “C,” appropriately enough.
Following orders is tough enough with the state of my drill. But when it comes time for me to give the orders, I can see the headlights coming my way. I haven’t developed my officers command voice. I have never dressed a line. I have never marched or commanded a battalion. I have never led one in firing or even the manual of arms. I don’t know where to stand, where to look in relation to the line and to the other captains.
I dressed my line, sorted the soldiers from highest to shortest. I had some reluctance separating the children from their parents, especially the wee ones. I don’t know if they’re going to have separation anxiety or not, especially with some stranger barking orders at them. I had them count off and practice the right and left faces a few times. Kids kept getting squeezed out of line whenever I went from two columns back to one line and I had to urge kids to move over one by one. It only underscores why an officer has to have a tough voice! All around me, the other captains get their troops in order like they’d been doing this all their lives.
Then came the marching, and I wasn’t sure where I was going to line my troops up. I marched them forward, then to the left, and halted them where I thought we were going to line them up. Turns out I was wrong. Our Colonel had to briefly take over for me and lead them back into the proper position.
One thought sprung to mind: “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”
We marched some more. I kept saying “by the left face” instead of “by files left” when turning. I’ve heard these commands over and over in my brief re-enacting career and yet I can’t remember to give the proper one. One of the young boys, who has the wisdom of someone twice his age, happily corrected me while marching in my line.
We did a couple of pretend fires by company, a couple of poses for the cameras, and a charge.
To my relief, even after all my mess ups and lack of command, after standing in the wrong place at the wrong time and carrying a weapon when I shouldn’t have as a captain, our Colonel led the crowd in cheers for all the commanders and they cheered me anyway. Anyway.
No hard feelings lingered afterward. Nobody was thrown in the brig or put on KP. That’s how we are, and our Colonel empathized, “it’s a different world when you’re giving the orders.”
We have several officers in our group, and I wonder how they became officers, or what they had to do. I don’t wonder about that anymore. I’m too busy being a foot soldier. And I don’t think I’d want it any other way.
You can’t have an army without officers. And you can’t have one without soldiers either. As Paul wrote, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” And then, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.”
So what if you’re not officer material? We’re not all designed that way. When we all come together in the Body of Christ, it doesn’t matter who we are, as long as we’re using the gifts God gave us.
Look at everybody who helps at Tucson Community Church. Setting up chairs and signs sounds like it’s pretty menial compared to production or counseling, but somebody’s got to draw people in. Running a camera isn’t as glamorous as punching the switcher, but somebody has to line up the shots for a director to take.
We can’t allow ourselves to feel less important because our jobs are less glamorous. We’re all serving the Lord. We’re all His foot soldiers. And the Lord will cheer us on.