Scottie Pippen was an amazing basketball player, but just happened to be playing at the same time as Michael Jordan. He may not have had as many commercials as Jordan, but he was part of the same team and so had just as many championship wins as him. He was still great in his own right and on his own path!
Most of us want to be the one to do something great for God. We look up to great men like Billy Graham and wish we could lead millions of people to salvation. We aspire to be like Mother Teresa and have people praise us for our compassion. We see the Newsboys band and wish we could usher the masses into worship. But sometimes we don’t get to be “The Guy” … sometimes we have to be content to be the assist man! I have heard a million sermons and studies about Paul, but the last one I heard opened my eyes to someone I hadn’t thought much about: Ananias!
Ananias was on the path to be “The Guy”. He was a known servant of the Lord, willing to do what the Lord commanded, and apparently had enough faith to heal Paul. But setting up Ananias to be the leader of a nation wasn’t in God’s plan. The bible talks about Ananias being scared of Paul, but it doesn’t allude to another feeling he must have felt: jealousy. Akin to the way the older brother in the prodigal son felt, Ananias may have been a little upset that a new-comer – an ANTI-Christian of all people – was coming in on the last play to throw the winning shot! Ananias went from being the game winner to being the assist man real quick … but the difference about Ananias is that he did so with grace and love for his new team leader. What if Ananias had gotten an attitude and told God to take a hike? The greatest evangelist of all time could have still been sitting in that back room – blind and unproductive. Ananias had to swallow his pride and teach Paul what he needed to know to transform the world. Maybe our role isn’t to be the front man, but to be the teacher.
A couple practical examples from my life:
1. Years ago my boss moved into another position and I was doing both jobs while a replacement was found. I applied for the job obviously, but was not granted an interview because I had not finished my degree. Then I had to train my new supervisor. I was a tad upset to say the least, but had to remember that it wasn’t the new girls fault. I couldn’t treat her with disdain because she was on the path she was supposed to be on. If I had gotten that job I would not have had time to be in my Christian band and would not have felt comfortable later to quit my job and go back to school for ministry. God was saving me for my path, but also helping someone else to be on their path as well. When we don’t get what we think is due to us, it can breed resentment and make us stray from the greater job God has in store for us.
2. I am a church kid, and had my own Christian band for over 5 years. I became a youth minister at a church and took my kids to youth retreat. It was the first time I had ever been at camp where I wasn’t one of the youth or part of the band/speakers. Even though I was one of the leaders, I sort of got upset and doubted what I was doing. I began asking God if I had given up my gift of singing and been wrong to stop using what He had given me to serve Him. I had jealousy and an attitude about the band on stage … thinking that that was my rightful place to be. Later that night there was a candle light service and I looked at my youth’s little faces in the soft light and began to cry. God reached into my heart and told me that I had had my time to travel and tell others about Jesus. Now my new mission and my new path was to teach these kids and prepare them so they could have their time to proclaim the name of Jesus. My time in front of the crowd had transitioned for the time being to lead a small band of disciples so they may take the message and spread the gospel. I couldn’t argue seeing that emulating Jesus is the greatest privilege we have. It still stung for a little bit, but the rewards of seeing those kids love the Lord was worth it. I had to step out of the spotlight and bury some of my passion and pride to follow the new path God had laid out for me.
3. My father has always lived a life set apart from most. He has a wonderful character, has never even tasted alcohol, and knew he was different than most of the kids in his small town. He always felt God was preparing him for something great. He has never been a rich man or been in a huge spotlight, but he has touched countless lives with his steadfast passion to try to do what is right no matter what others may think of him. He has been a beloved coach to hundreds of young men and also a bible study leader. He can’t go anywhere without seeing someone he knows, and will friend anyone and put a smile on their face. He told me the other day that even though he doesn’t feel like he has done some great feat for God, maybe what he was supposed to do was raise his kids to go on to do great things. We have each gone on to do some relatively big things in our community and beyond for Christ (in no way meaning to brag) and I believe my father was right in the fact that his legacy remains in the way he taught his children to stand up for what is right and follow what the bible says no matter how we feel. And one day we will bring our children up in the ways of the Lord. His favorite saying is: “what is right might not be popular, and what is popular is not always right”. He is a great example of perseverance in the midst of struggle. He may not always make the right decision, but he always tries to return to God’s word and live for Him. If that is the only thing anyone remembers about him, I believe it would be enough of a witness to the dedication of faith and a slam dunk for his life. Sometimes we think we are not the leading actor in our own lives, but if we can remain unyielding to the end we may just get that academy award for best supporting actor. There are no small parts … only small actors.
Ananias decided to put aside his pride and do what God asked. He may not have been as popular as Paul, but his name is in the Bible forever and he was a very important assist to countless people (even now) hearing the gospel. No matter how big you think your role is in the furthering of God’s will, if you do what the Lord asks then you have completed a great feat for Him! Sometimes being the assist man is your moment in the spotlight. In all reality – hearing the words “well done My good and faithful servant” when we step into eternity is our three point shot at the buzzard!