This weekend our pastor told a story that’s worth repeating. (It’s also worth repeating that he thought it was a story worth repeating, since he said he heard it from “a pastor friend.” No word on who that friend is, but my money is on Chandler, Platt, or Yoda.)
Imagine for a moment that you’re a part of a fire department’s engine company: you’re the guys who slide down the pole and hop on the truck whenever the alarm goes out. And imagine that I ask you to define your job. You might say:
- I’m the driver. I’ve led this company for 18 years, so I get the privilege of being the first one out the door.
- I’m the hose man. I stretch the line from the hydrant to the truck and from the truck to the blaze.
- I’m the ladder guy. Two story building? Got it covered. Fourteen story building? Boom. I’m there.
- I’m the engineer. If there’s a bell or whistle on this truck, I know how it operates and why it’s there.
And while you’d be technically correct, you couldn’t be more wrong. There’s a huge difference between task and mission: although your task is to drive a truck or stretch a hose or extend a ladder or flip a switch, your mission is to put out fires. And if you forget that, disaster ensues.
We face the same things on volunteer teams every weekend. “Hey volunteer, what’s your job?”
- I stand at this door and hand out worship guides. I’ve been doing it since Job lost his kids in a tornado, and if you get in my way you’ll have the same fate.
- I park cars. I have battle scars to prove it. College girls texting and not looking where they’re driving, irate people who are going to park where they darn well please, I’ve seen it all.
- I’m a seater. I have more authority in my little finger than most army generals possess in an entire career. That section doesn’t open until I say it opens. You feelin’ lucky, punk? Try to move that rope before I tell you to.
And while those volunteers would be right, they couldn’t be more wrong. Because while their task is to stand at a door or park a car or seat a rear, their mission is to smooth the road that leads to the gospel. They leverage their skills for the sake of the kingdom. The point of their gifts is to point people to Jesus.
So what’s your job? Better yet, what’s your mission?