So this past week was my first time officially on the job coaching gymnastics. I was quickly reminded I was not teaching Vacation Bible School. True, I did hear the name of Jesus within the first few minutes, but the context was the Third Commandment. After trying to explain to a child he needs to keep his arms straight by trying to squeeze his ears with his arms, his surprising response was, “I hate you!” I was like, ‘Wah?’ I carried on as if he said, “You’re the best coach in the world!” Later that evening, a few middle school girls thought my hair looked like a band member of One Direction. One girl said Harry, and after googling One Direction, I think she was referring to Harry Band. I took it as a compliment, but I was yet again reminded that I was not present as a pastor. I was the new coach. They didn’t know who I am. I didn’t know who they were. In their mind, being Harry Band’s (much) older brother would be just as realistic as being a pastor.
Being in this position felt weird- almost foreign. For so long, because my identity has been wrapped up as a pastor, I almost forgot what it felt like just to be new and unknown. It was a strange feeling not knowing all the kids. All the other coaches were loved and appreciated, but being the new guy, I have a ways to earn their trust. Being new is hard to do. It is tough and intimidating, even with kids. Being new, I was not the gregarious personality making all the kids laugh. On top of that, I don’t know the warm-up drills. I don’t know the names of each face. I have to relearn how to spot handsprings and back tucks. It is a humbling place to be after preaching and teaching for so long.
Of course, my hope is that great relationships will form from this experience. In fact, I even think I ended up making a good impression with the child who “hates” me. My hope is that I will pick things up quickly in order to lead warm-ups. My hope is that I will win the trust of kids and coaches in order to fit into this community I am learning to love. More than that, my hope is that I will be able to shepherd some of them into a relationship with Jesus. They may say his name, but the hope is that they will know his name.
Although the official work of church planting does not begin until September, these small steps into the community feel like giant leaps. They are necessary leaps as I try to make connections in the name of Jesus. What small steps into the community are you making that will allow you to make relationships in the name of Jesus? What small steps into the community do you need to make in order to be the salt and light Jesus has called His Body to be? If you are a Christian, let’s show this world that His Body is the source of salvation and strength… gymnastics type strength!
For those of you who, like me, have no idea who Harry Band is…