Back in the Dark Ages when I was in high school, I played volleyball. Not well, but I tried. In the 1970’s, girls’ athletics was not quite as competitive as it is today and being 5’12” (as I used to call myself) didn’t hurt my chances of making the cut either.
Generally on any team, you have to communicate with each other. Specifically in volleyball, if you don’t communicate with your teammates, you might plow into each other, which would defeat the purpose of getting the ball over the net. When the ball comes your way, you have to send the message, “I’ve got this, so you don’t have to, but be ready because it might be coming your way next.”
As that tends to be a bit wordy, it is condensed into simply:
In contrast to this:
The first example refers to a corporate vision—winning the game. The second is all about me.
We see this everyday obviously, but I also found a pretty nifty example of this in two expert leaders. Here, Nehemiah is building the previously demolished wall the surrounds Jerusalem. As governor, he has some entitlement due him; however,…
“For the entire twelve years that I was governor of Judah…neither I nor my officials drew on our official food allowance… I also devoted myself to working on the wall and refused to acquire any land. And I required all my servants to spend time working on the wall. I asked for nothing, even though I regularly fed 150 Jewish officials at my table, besides all the visitors from other lands!”
Compare this with Paul’s attitude in the New Testament:
“Since we have planted spiritual seed among you, aren’t we entitled to a harvest of physical food and drink? If you support others who preach to you, shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported? But we have never used this right. We would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ.”
The vision was always before them both—for Nehemiah, it was building the wall to protect Jerusalem, and for Paul, it was building the church to protect God’s people.
Sure, there were things to which they were legally and ethically entitled—Nehemiah’s food allowance would have helped quite a bit in feeding all the people at his table, even though it would have been a burden on the people.
There were circumstances to which they were even morally allowed—for the Apostle Paul, eating meat offered to idols was no big deal, but it became a big deal to him if it would cause spiritual confusion for someone else.
Similarly, there are times when I have to give up what I’m entitled to, (or think I’m entitled to), for the goal. It’s not about My comfort, My convenience, My time, My money, My status, My pride.
This in no way means I become an emotional doormat; certainly, neither Nehemiah nor Paul could be called that! I’m still responsible for setting my personal boundaries, but once again, they are boundaries that are set by God’s counsel, and for the vision and purpose He has for my life.
Only then can WE effectively get the ball over the net and win the game that HE has put into play.
Nehemiah 5:14,16-17; I Corinthians 9:11,12 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.