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Playing The Bench

So, when I was in junior varsity baseball I was bestowed the nickname of "Sliver". You wouldn't be wrong in the assumption that I earned this moniker from the way I splintered the bat when I hit the ball. Or that I made spectacular plays just in the nick of time or on a splinter. Yeah I know that last attempt was a stretch, but you get the drift.

It must be that this nickname was bestowed on me because I was one of the great stars on the team and my contribution was unparalleled. You already know that isn't where this story is going. I mean just look at the title of this post for crying out loud. No! I earned this illustrious title because while sitting the bench I got a huge sliver lodged in my backside that I needed help removing. Seriously, it was like two inches long. I was literally sexually assaulted by the dugout bench.

I bore my teammates chiding with grace, because it was actually a term of affection. No, I was not always in the starting lineup, but I did earn a reputation as a versatile player who could be relied upon to come off the bench and do whatever the team needed. I played infield, outfield and I was even working on learning to catch so I could back up the starter. Yeah, I took my role very seriously. No, I wasn't the star and most spectators didn't know my name, but my team did. If I have to say that I had one regret from my parents pulling us out of public school to home school us it would be not playing baseball anymore.

Was I ever going to be a major league caliber ballplayer? Nope. Probably wouldn't even have been good enough to play in college, but man I loved the game and being part of a team. I was proud that I got to play and be part of the team no matter my roll. I did get to play church softball, but it wasn't the same. Sure, it was fun but not the same. The competition and being counted on by your team is still something I miss. Even though I was a utility bench player, I still loved it. Contrary to the derogatory meaning that is usually associated with this term, the bench player is actually an essential part of any team. A good bench can be the difference between a championship team and a losing one.

In life just as in sports we find many people who are like this. People who are always there when needed even if they aren't in the starting lineup. Theses unsung heroes can be found in every field of employment, church and life. They are the ones that show up after a disaster just to help. They are they are the ones who, even when passed up for promotions, still give their all and are found serving with a smile. In fact I bet certain people have already come to mind for you. People who are faithful, steadfast and consistent. These people are the backbone of the world and without them, everything would be significantly more dire. If such people were to suddenly disappear the world would be a far darker place.

This is something that is prevalent in the church. Leaders often mention that they couldn't do what they need to without the rest of us doing our part. I heard a saying once that goes,

"without people to follow and believe in the vision a leader is just a person taking a long walk by himself."

Man, this is so true. Yes we need people with vision and drive, but without faithful people to walk with them, they really have nothing but a dream. Dreamers need helpers that are willing to come alongside them and one important type is the bench player. The person who has just as much knowledge, skill and energy as the starting lineup, but is willing to be there consistently until that one moment they are needed.

When a team has depth people say they have a good bench. This means they have solid players in reserve that can be utilized in any situation. A good church is a church that has members of this type. Men and women who mow the lawns or clean the church. Men and women who teach Sunday school, sing backup in worship or play an instrument. People who the pastor can call to fill in and lead last minute. The world may see these people as simply average, but I can assure you they are far more than that.

Maybe you are one of those people. Maybe you are a "bench player" like me. I know from personal experience that the enemy will try to make you feel somehow less. Like you are unimportant and God doesn't care. Like you are unsuccessful, unimportant and unnecessary. Remember, he is the father of lies and everything that spews froth from his lips is untrue. He literally can only tell the truth when he is twisting it or taking it out of context. So, the opposite must be true.

You are actually someone God trusts so much that he knows that when he needs a big hit, he can call on you and that you who have been cheering for your fellow team mates from the bench, will come out and give it your all. That you are a person who is more concerned with your fellows than yourself. Man, if anything is more in line with Jesus' character, I don't know what is. You are a legend and a hero. A person who is both able to lead and support others. You are, as my friends used to say, a Captain America.

I will leave you with this one thought. I play a game called Marvel Snap. It is a card game where you use a deck of different marvel characters each with different abilities. You battle other players with other decks. My favorite card is Captain America. He has average cost and average power, but his ability is that he enhances all other cards next to him. He literally makes everyone around him better. Man, if I could aspire to have one attribute, it would be it. To be a man who makes everyone around me better. Just like Jesus did and he was literally God with us.


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