One of my favorite Bible characters is one of those guys most people don’t pay much attention to. His name was Eutychus, and he was a kid who excelled at going unnoticed in a room. During one of the Apostle Paul’s particularly long sermons, Eutychus went over and sat on the window ledge, probably hoping the night air might keep him awake.
When I read his story in the book of Acts’ 20th chapter, my first question is, “Where’s his mom?” I mean seriously, the kid is sitting on the window ledge and the window is OPEN! How can a room full of parents not see that? At my church, half the adults seemed to have the authority to correct me—though they seldom did. Exactly where were they?
But apparently Eutychus is one of those kids. So after nodding back and forth a few dozen times, he apparently drifted off to sleep, and nobody seems to notice until he rolled out the window and lay dead in the street. Fortunately, the verbose apostle paused long enough to rush outside and raise my buddy from the dead, but how would it feel being the kid that nobody knew was alive until he was dead? That’s being seriously unnoticed.
Okay, Eutychus’ story might be a bit extreme, but when I get to Heaven, I’m gonna ask to meet him, and see if any of the angels know which one he is. Actually, I’m just joking there. I’ve always imagined Heaven as a place where the unnoticed get a lot more attention and the cool kids look up to us (again, just joking).
But living an unnoticed life is no joke. It’s reality for a lot of us—and if you’re one of our number, there’s something I think God wants you to know. You see, a lot of us pastors and church leaders know something about being unnoticed. Sure most of those who attend our smaller worship gatherings know who we are, but at a gathering of our peers, we don’t stand out.
Some ministers achieve an almost celebrity status, famous for their remarkable visions, skills, and the masses that appreciate them. I applaud them too; grateful for their successes and the sizeable contributions they make to the large assignment God has given to all of us. Without the mega-efforts of mega-places generating mega-resources and mega-successes, the hill we’re all climbing would be a lot steeper.
On the other end of the spectrum are the stories we could do without. That’s where the colossal catastrophes that demand a lot of media attention gather. The urgent triage and lengthy recovery times needed for these sad stories sure get a lot of focus, and I gladly extend my piece of grace to help that happen. Surely, any effort to limit more of these kinds of stories would help all of us.
Today, however, I’m thinking of all of us in the middle—the land of the lesser known, but equally important. Surely there’s some good news and great potential for us, since it seems God placed more of us in the middle than He designed to congregate at the more-noticeable edges. When it comes to the local church and its ministry effort, surely there are thousands of great stories to be written—even if the media giants in Heaven are the only ones to print them.
You see, after thirty years of local church leadership and a lifetime lived somewhere between stained glass and multi-purpose functionality, I can’t help but believe that excellence can be found in the middle. Yours and my best efforts may never make the denominational magazine, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be eternally heroic to our remarkable cause and the lives they affect.
Sure, maybe my ceiling is someone else’s countertop, but being unable to reach as high as others doesn’t excuse me from reaching for my best. The middle doesn’t exist just to hold up those at the top of the pyramid. There’s some big stuff we’re supposed to do too.