Just before Paul dives into his letter to the Corinthians about love, he addresses the Corinthians about their roles in the Body of Christ. He advises them to quit competing for so-called “important” parts and to be the part they were called to be.
Since my freshman year of college, I’ve heard from many hands, feet, eyes, and mouths of the Body about how important it is to be a hand, foot, eye or mouth. For them, it’s all about doing something visible for God as if someone besides God is keeping track of what you may or may not be doing for Him. In college, I had one friend who was particularly sure we were all hands and if we weren’t all out being hands, we weren’t serving God. I’m sure she was sincere in her desire to serve, but she would get burned out trying to make sure we were all doing what she was supposed to be doing that she was an ineffective hand.
Years ago I learned that to try and please the hands, feet, eyes, mouths and other visible “important” parts of the Body is not necessarily pleasing God. God created me for a specific purpose within the Body and as I’ve grown in Christ, I’ve been able to pour myself into that purpose, learn how to do it better, and more effectively.
I’m not sure what body part I am, to tell you the truth. I’m not sure what all the parts of the human body do, but I do know that each part has a specific purpose and all the parts must work together. We can’t all be hands, and someone has to be the part of the body that supports other parts of the body. Someone has to be the tendon in the finger of the hand, to do its job so the hand can move freely. Someone has to be a blood vessel, to carry the oxygen to the tissues of the hand so it can work properly. Someone has to be the heart, the liver, the spleen…even the mole on the cheek.
During a group bonding exercise a few years ago I began recognize my job in the Body. There were 15 of us and as the exercise began, eight people tried to take charge. Two people (who were normally placed in charge) were told not to talk at all, and they were getting frustrated because I could tell they wanted to be with the 8 trying to decide how to steer the ship, so to speak. That left five of us. Three of the last five waited to be told what to do. The final two of us took steps backward from the crowd and as the exercise began to take shape, we waited, saw where the gaps were, and stepped into them.
The director asked me why I did this. I pointed out that first of all, there were too many people trying to be in charge, so I knew that trying to do the same would be frustrating and fruitless, so I decided to wait until things took shape to see what needed to be done that hadn’t been thought of yet and step into the gap.
The director smiled, but said nothing and watched as everything unfolded. People barked out commands, others followed them, while the other guy and I waited for the gaps and continued to fill them.
Meanwhile, I offered encouragement to those who were faltering during the exercise, provided them with support physically, mentally, and verbally. I gave encouraging words, backrubs, and ideas. I was quiet when I needed to be, vocal when I needed to be, and for the first time in my life, I saw my role in the Body, whether it had a human counterpart or not.
I’m not sure what part of the human body is the encourager, support crew, or gap filler, but that’s where I seem to find myself, even when the role I really wanted was to be a hand, foot, eye or mouth. I realized, though, through that exercise, that what I have to offer is just as important as anything else that was being illustrated by our actions.
I am an encourager, support crew, and gap filler in my full time job. What I do every day supports someone else (who sometimes supports someone else) who goes out to be the hand, foot, eye or mouth. If I didn’t see my job in that way, I wouldn’t be able to do it, and if I didn’t feel God had me there at this juncture of my life to be an encourager, support, or gap filler, I wouldn’t be there either.
I also am an encourager and support and gap filler outside of my job whether anyone sees it or not. I don’t advertise what I do for God, and much of what I does goes unnoticed except to the people I’ve encouraged, supported, or helped.
As I lean into hear God and God only, I am open to new direction and new ways to serve. I feel, though, more than ever, that I am in place right now to fine tune my role, and continue to grow in it. I still have a lot to learn and I find new ways every day to be a better encourager, supporter, gap filler. Though I know I am doing my “job” in the body, it’s not necessarily effortless or taxing. Sometimes to do my job in the body I have to leave my comfort zone or do things that aren’t necessarily fun or easy. I try to embrace those times and learn from them in order to be a better… whatever I am in the Body.
When I feel the pressure from other parts of the Body (no matter how well intentioned) to be another part of the Body, I remind myself that I serve God and if I listen and look for His direction and purpose, I will find it. That’s the only way I’m ever certain if I’m following Him and not the crowd or what’s popular or considered more important.
I thank God for the counsel He’s sent me through His word, and the many other ways He speaks to me, including a few hands, feet, eyes and mouths who help me see that I serve as an important part of the Body… whether I know exactly what I am or not.