If you’ve shopped for tennis shoes in recent years you know that there’s no such thing anymore. Athletic shoes have gone high tech and there’s a shoe for every kind of exercise. You can buy shoes for walking, shoes for jogging, and shoes for sprinting. You can buy shoes for weight lifting, for bike riding, and for basketball. You can buy water shoes for kayaking and you can even buy shoes with separate compartments for all ten toes, a rubberized mitten for the foot.
My favorite shoe, now, is the cross-trainer. Cross-trainers are designed for a broad variety of exercise. They’re my favorite, I suppose, because I value flexibility. Being utilitarian at heart, I love objects which can do several tasks reasonably well over objects which are so specialized that they’re good at only one thing. My favorite athletic shoe is the cross trainer. My favorite animal is the duck (they fly, swim, walk, and can even go underwater). You get the idea.
Our church staff has long concentrated on cross training. While we have many specialists on the payroll, we have also prided ourselves on supplementing our training regimens so as to broaden each staff member’s skillset. Just as everyone is expected to make fresh coffee when taking the last cup, everyone is also expected to be helpful and handy to coworkers when the need arises.
I comment on all of this by way of praising our staff and thanking them in this brief absence. Two weeks ago yesterday I had my second open heart surgery in 12 months. (Really now, who does that?) There are many tasks at First Pres that are left chiefly to me, and they’ll await my coming return. There are also many tasks that fall on my professional plate that can be shared, especially in the short run, and I am immeasurably thankful for the team which rallies to minimize my absence.
What is true of me is true of every staff member, of course. Every health emergency, every family vacation, every time one of us is drawn away from our primary tasks there are staff members at First Pres waiting to fill the void. We make a good team.
I am keenly aware of this preparation and reality at the moment, and so very thankful. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to thank our staff for its faithfulness and competence, and yes, for its flexibility. At First Pres, we are cross trainers. Our ministries are shared, and to God be the glory.
See you in church soon.