Let me tell you what happened to my friend Jon recently.
Jon was hired by one of the pro football teams as an assistant coach. Jon is a lifelong athlete, all-pro in his own career, and after retirement became a coach. So, now he was excited about the new position and moved his family to that city. He settled his stuff into the assistant coach’s office, got to know everyone, and turned to take a look at his players. That’s when his rude awakening came.
He told me, “Joe, I was so shocked. Some of those guys are lazy. Some of them are not doing their preparation for the games. They are lagging on their reps and resent being reprimanded. I was so disappointed that I went to see the head coach, my boss.”
“And what happened then?” I asked.
Jon said, “I told him, ‘Coach, I wanted to come to a team that was excellent, that was poised to win the big games, to go all the way. Instead, what I found is that a lot of the players are unmotivated, are in this work for the big salaries, are lazy, and are not up to speed on the fundamentals of the game. I’m big-time disappointed. Honestly, coach, I don’t know how you can take this.”
“Was he upset?” I asked.
“No,” Jon said. “In fact, he just smiled.”
“Yes. And he told me, ‘Jon, you are exactly right. A lot of my players are self-centered, lazy, unmotivated, and need constant coaching. And that, my friend, is exactly why we brought you here. That is what gives you a job, Jon. If they were everything they need to be, we would not need you.”
“And what did you say?” I asked.
Jon: “I said, ‘Oh.’”
A new doctor went to a hospital to work. A few days later, I heard him complaining. “Nothing there but sick people! I want to work where people are well!”
I said to him, “Remember what our Lord said? Those who are well do not need a physician.”
He said, “Oh.”
A new pastor went to a church. A few months later, he said to me, “Joe, my people are not mature. They do not love one another as they should. They don’t know their Bibles. Serving God is low priority with them. ”
I said, “Is there a problem?”
He said, “Is there a problem? I’ll say! I want to pastor where the people love one another, where they know their Bibles and honor their God, where they are known in the community for their service and great fellowship.”
I said, “Of course. That’s the goal.”
He said, “I want to pastor a church that is poised for growth, not one where people are snapping at one another, criticizing me their pastor for trying to do God’s work.”
I said, “My brother, why did God call you into this work?”
He was quiet a moment, then said, “He called me to minister, to serve Him by serving His people. He called me to preach the Word.”
I said, “Do you remember how the Apostle put it? In Ephesians 4, he said God appointed various leaders like you and me ‘in order to equip the saints for the work of service, to build up the body of Christ.’”
I said, “You have been sent to pastor believers who need equipping for the work of service, who need to be built up as the body of Christ. They are weak and immature. They are sheep in need of a shepherd. They are not mature, they are not strong, they are nowhere near the way they should be.”
“Got that right,” he said.
“And that,” says I, “is why you have the call of God on your life. If they were strong and loving and mature, they would not need you or me. But we are their physicians sent to help them get well. We are their coaches sent to show them how to do their jobs. We are the shepherds sent to feed and protect them.”
He was quiet.
I did not let him off the hook, but said, “Now, pastor, get out of here and go do your job. And quit belly-aching about your people needing you to do your job. That’s why God sent you to them! So, go do it!”
He laughed, which let me know he got the message. And he went on his way.
As he walked away, another pastor entered. “Joe,” he said, “I’ve been waiting for that guy to leave. I need to talk to you bad. I’m discouraged.”
“Really? How come?”
“Man, Joe, it’s my congregation. These people are immature. They do not love one another, they don’t know God’s word, and they are always bickering. I don’t know how much more I can take.”
I said, “Let me tell you about a coach named Jon who was upset because his players were lazy and unmotivated….”