Position, Place, Purpose
I’m a big soccer fan. Well, at least as it relates to being American. For most Americans the game of soccer ranks somewhere between equestrian events and synchronized swimming on the list of most popular sports. (Wow! Look at that. I managed to offend 3 separate groups of potential readers in one sentence). But me personally? I like soccer. Big fan of the Premier League in particular. Now, even if you have never once watched a single soccer match in your life you should still be able to make use of this devotional. But just in case, let me make sure we all understand the analogy that I want to use.
Today I want us to think about the goalie…
The goalie’s responsibilities are defined as follows, “a goalie is a designated player charged with directly preventing the opposing team from scoring by intercepting shots at goal.” In soccer the goalie is the only player allowed to use his hands. He can catch the ball. He can kick the ball. He can fall on the ball and smother it. He can even punch the ball. His task is very simple… keep the ball from going into the net. And his success is determined almost exclusively by this one measurement. As a result his play becomes very limited at times. Rarely does he run out onto the pitch. He almost never takes a shot on goal. In fact, his movements are almost entirely limited to the small area directly in front of the goal. He has a specific position. He remains in a designated place. And he serves a very important purpose.
Get the picture? Good. Put it on the back burner for a minute and we will come back to it. For now, let’s take a look at a verse in 1 Timothy. In verse 3 Paul writes these words, “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines…” Paul was leaving. Timothy was staying. Paul would be in Macedonia. Timothy would remain in Ephesus. Paul would be busy proclaiming the Gospel. Timothy would be hard at work teaching truth. Paul would be meeting new people. Timothy would be seeing the same old faces. Paul was heading out into the unknown. Timothy would stay nestled amongst the familiar. Paul and Timothy were two very different people, ministering in two very different places, and serving two very different functions. But at the heart of it was one God, one church, and one team. Different people, different places, and different purposes but one team.
Think back to the goalie. If he abandons his position for personal pursuits, his team is guaranteed defeat. Sure, he doesn’t get as much attention as some of the other players but his job is critical. It is crucial that he maintains his place in front of the goal. His team might not score a single goal but if he does his job they cannot lose. Timothy was given just such a task. In essence, Paul made him the “goalie” of Ephesus. Timothy’s job was to protect, to safeguard, to stop all of the opposition’s attacks. Just like the goalie Timothy had been given a specific position. His job was to remain in a designated place. And he served a very important purpose. Furthermore, his faithfulness would guarantee victory for the team. Timothy was crucial for team success.
Now, think about yourself for a moment. Have you ever considered your role in His Kingdom? Maybe your calling doesn’t seem glamorous. Maybe your name isn’t world renown. Maybe your accomplishments aren’t celebrated. Maybe your face isn’t recognized. Maybe you have never written a book, sold a DVD, or graced the cover of any magazine. Maybe no one is patting you on the back, applauding your efforts, or lauding your “ministry.” Guess what? That doesn’t make your position, place, and purpose any less crucial in the Kingdom. You and I have been divinely commissioned and given an important task in the Kingdom. And just like young Timothy, the team’s success is depending on our faithfulness. Somehow we have managed to minimize faithfulness and maximize charisma. We have become guilty of celebrating the wrong people in the Kingdom. We give the spotlight to people of questionable character just because they possess some vocal or oratory skill. Meanwhile, the “goalies” in the Kingdom… the faceless, anonymous, and faithful servants of God go ignored and unrecognized.
In closing, I want to remind you today that you are extremely valuable. Your service is priceless. Your sacrifice is to be commended. God sees all that you do and He is faithful. The seed you plant will produce a harvest. Your labors will be rewarded. Your efforts and investments of time, energy, and love will bring forth a Kingdom return. So don’t be discouraged. And please, don’t give up. The team is counting on you. Stay faithful to the position God has given you. Remain obedient where He has placed you. And continue to fulfill the purpose He granted to you. You are an important part of the team!!!
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