I write this one week before the Board of Trustees and CSRM staff meet for their annual fall meeting. Having served on the board, I know the time we gather will be great for praying, planning, and relationship building. It will be the first fall meeting that I will lead as Executive Director. An agenda is set, and I think we’ll be able to praise the past while looking forward to the future.
To discuss this move forward, I’d like to share a story from the chapter, “The Reluctant Followers: Thar She Plows” in my first book, Characters of the Bible: Finding My Stories in Their Stories.
My career has, however, given me great insight to teach future recreation leaders about leadership, programming, and facility management. I’m presently in a class that deals with recreation facilities and fields. We look at how to design them and how to maintain them. A few weeks ago, the topic was baseball and softball fields. I remember my days at the First Baptist Church of Natchez, Mississippi, where we had two softball fields on church property. I generally do well to avoid actual work in my jobs. My philosophy of leadership has always been to not do anything that I could find someone else to do for me. It worked well with employees, volunteers, and sometimes with family. Unfortunately, my brothers and sons are all smarter than I am and figured out my system fairly early.
In this particular case, I had a crackerjack team of volunteers that groomed the field, set the bases in place, and laid the chalk foul lines. One particular weekend, during a fundraising tournament, I had to get to the fields and line the baselines myself. I wasn’t worried, as I had watched numerous people do it before. How hard could it be? I mean, really?
I set the frame on home plate and chalked the open areas to create the two batter’s boxes. Then I filled the chalk dispenser and went from the corner of home plate toward first base. About a third of the way up the baseline I turned to make sure I was laying the chalk straight. The problem was, I kept going as I turned to look. There’s a bit of physics involved in this, and I never really understood physics, but I did understand that if I turn my head to the back, my body follows toward that same side. I often make that same mistake in driving an automobile.
Not a problem, I thought to myself. No one else was there, so I kicked dirt around the angled part of the line and set the chalk dispenser back where I first turned. Off I went again. This time I was smart enough to stop walking as I turned to view my work. Now I realized there was a break in the line, with the new line starting about a half inch outside the original line. More dirt was kicked, and the line began once again from the beginning point. I’d worked on the process long enough that I now had an audience. Early arrivals for the tournament were sitting on the bleachers, enjoying my varied attempts to chalk a straight line.
Finally, after several attempts, one of my talented friends took over. He claimed it was so I could be free to deal with the administration of the tournament and minister to the people attending. That may be, but I also know he wanted a straight line between home plate and first base.
Some other people had difficulties with straight lines as well. While Jesus was walking at one time, a man said he wanted to follow Jesus wherever he would go. Jesus let him know He had no place to lay His head. Jesus then offered a couple of invitations to follow Him. One person answered that he wanted to wait for his father’s funeral. I don’t get the idea it was happening soon, or else Jesus wouldn’t have told him to let the dead bury the dead.
Another man was invited, but he wanted to wait in order to say good-bye to family. Jesus pointed out that one who looks back while plowing is not fit for the kingdom of God. Looking back always causes the head to turn in the wrong direction, thus making a straight path much more difficult.
Our main point of concern cannot be where we’ve been, but instead where we are going. I think God would want us to recall, remember, and recite how He has worked in our lives. I don’t think remembrance is what Jesus is referring to in this case. I believe Jesus is trying to keep us grounded in the circumstances of the day and to look at where God is taking us tomorrow.
Chef Gusteau, in Ratatouille, said, “If you focus on what you left behind you will never be able to see what lies ahead.”
Please keep the staff and board in your prayers as we move forward to the future. Pray as well how you might help us with finances or functions of the organization.
Waddell, D. (2015). Characters of the Bible: Finding My Stories in Their Stories. Bloomington, IN: WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan