While I was putting up some Christmas decorations around the house one year, it became very clear to me that the push pins I was using to hang up lights and garland was taking a painful toll on my thumb and index finger. I wished that I had some kind of metal glove that could be as strong as the hand covering on a knights armor, (or Gauntlets) and yet pliable and fitting enough to hold a tiny thumb tack.
But I didn't.
So like every ultra-intelligent, 40-something male, I scanned the living room for something to whack it with.
Well, not just anything; it had to strong, but not too strong. Substantial enough to wield, yet not heavy enough to put a hole through my wall. or hand.
The garage, which housed my rubber mallet, was over 10 yards away and down a massive, winding stairway consisting of 4 concrete, yet most assuredly rickety stairs, so I wasn't about to climb off my towering Playskool footstool to go get it. Instead I reached toward the family computer work station and grabbed the exact thing which both you are thinking and I needed:
And it did work perfectly. It was light to hold, yet solid enough to drive the push pin in. It worked well. And if it worked for the push pins, which I had ran out of, it should work for the small, renegade brads I had.
But it didn't.
The first one I tried to drive lodged in the hinge. As I struggled to remove the stubborn nail, the stapler shattered, leaving it in two irreparable pieces. Great.
The decorations were half hung and the stapler was unceremoniously committed to the trash bin.
I doubt its end would be as tragic if it was used for the purpose for which it was created. But it wasn't. Because I didn't. So it paid for it with its "life", or with its existence in mine. And, sadly, through no fault of it's own.
And the rubber mallets sits unused and unreconciled.
You see, the stapler worked for what I needed it to do- pushing in push pins- so I continued to use it for just that. To me, because it worked for my desired purpose, for that amount of time, I changed its original and primary purpose for my own needs.
It really wasn't fair to the stapler, but you and I both know that the stapler couldn't care less. Not so for anyone under my care as a Minister, more specifically a Minister of Worship and Arts.
Some pastors, quite unintentionally I believe, find and utilize people in their church body to fill an unoccupied, yet much needed ministry position there. I'll call these people "Staplers". They function well in that position, because of their dedication to Christ and to the church and everyone, including the leadership, assume that they are functioning in their purpose. That is, until they reach the natural evolution of that task, which, in the best case scenario, they should have been growing in and are able to mature with naturally. But if it is not their true purpose, the Staplers will shatter as they are being "fixed" or "adjusted", the task will remain undone and the Staplers will be committed to the trash bin. If only someone would have first walked the 10 yards to the garage.
This reminds me of a story I heard from John Stanko:
In a time when people did a lot of walking because of the lack of modern technologies, a man walking to a neighboring town began to see along the side of the highway targets with an arrow smack-dab in the middle of the bulls-eye. They were everywhere- on trees, stumps the sides of buildings- everywhere. Each one with an arrow in its exact center.
With great excitement, he entered the next town and began to inquire as to who this marvelous archer might be. He soon learned that the archer he was looking for lived in a shack at the edge of town. When he reached the shack, he saw, to his wonderment, more of the targets scattered around the the archers property, each in the same condition of those he had seen before entering town. When the man saw the archer coming out of the shack, he inquired if he was indeed the man responsible for all the targets here and the targets the man had seen outside of town.
"Why, yes", the stranger answered. "I am."
"Please, good sir, can you tell me the secret on how you came to be such an amazingly perfect shot?"
The stranger smiled, removed his hat and pushed his hair back, all the while scanning his bulls-eye garden.
"Well, I don't know about secret," he chuckled. "Or even about 'perfect', but what I do is I shoot the arrow, then I paint the target around it!"
That's kinda the same thing, isn't it?
It all looks good on the onset, but at some point the foundation of it all will have to be reconsidered. And at that point, you should stop and start all over again.
You should... but what usually happens is that because your Staplers have been building houses in the "natural evolution" zone without even knowing how to read blueprints, you believe that if they stop, everything will collapse. So you keep on using the stapler for other than what it was intended for. You keep shooting the arrows and painting circles around it, leaving the outsider to comment as Shakespeare's Olivia, "Excellently done, if God did all."
Yet, indeed; did He?
Are you serving in your purpose, or are you simply functioning?
Do you know what your purpose is? why God created you as YOU?
Let me close with another reference from John Stanko:
When you are at your lowest point in life, when there is no one around, when it is so dark that you cannot see the hand in front of your face. The one thing you find you have the strength to do?
THAT is your purpose.
Friends, you've heard it said that if you don't live your life, no one will live it for you? I submit to you that if you don't live your life, EVERYONE WILL LIVE IT FOR YOU.
Don't let that happen.
Find your purpose. Serve in your purpose. Live in your purpose...
for God's sake.
Talk to you next week.