“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” – 3 John 1:2

Last Friday, we had a substitute water aerobics’ instructor at our community pool. He got in the water with us and cheerfully called out an hour’s worth of muscle building, heart pumping exercises. We tried to “KEEP GOING!” while climbing a mountain (“Get those knees up to your chest!) We put our barbells under water and dragged them side to side. (“Put them all the way under the water! Feel that resistance? That’s building your core!!”) Some of us were confused by exercises we hadn’t done before and looked to the people next to us for support. Some of us muttered to each other, about being old or clumsy, but we kept moving. “Just do what you can! If you have pain, take it a little easier!” He called out encouragement the entire hour. “REACH! REACH! Again! Again!” “THAT’S IT! YOU’RE DOING GREAT!” “Stretch! “Stretch” “GREAT JOB! KEEP GOING!!”

After the first few minutes of class, I was thinking “This guy would make a GREAT motivational speaker!” He was a happy warrior, enthusiastically leading us in doing what was good for us. There were seventeen of us. Some came with walkers, others had already “worked out” before coming. I don’t know if I was doing better than Joan or Diane or Linda. He expected all of us to jump around like preschoolers…and we did! It’s the reason we had come.

About halfway through the class, someone asked if he was joining the pool staff and would be leading us more often. That’s when he told us he had just graduated from four years of… SEMINARY!  I immediately thought of a church that should “call” him!! (If only I knew his name…) Then I started to wonder: Will he unapologetically lead his congregation to exercise the unchanging truth of God’s Word to its fullest? Will he have confidence to persevere in training them diligently, even when there’s outside pressure to give up on difficult goals? (I’m thinking of the “Fat Acceptance” movement here.) Will he be able to dive in and lead impartially, knowing some will be stronger and some weaker, but trusting that God’s Word and Spirit will meet them where they are? Will his parishioner’s give him grace when he’s “hard to hear?” As he becomes more familiar with individual weaknesses, will he be able to cope with discouragement and return to “class” each time with steady resolve and  and contagious joy? Pastoring is vital work. Athletic trainers step into their work boldly, confident of truth and unwavering in their mission. Do our church leaders do the same?

Thank you for truth and grace in that workout, Pastor. GREAT JOB! KEEP GOING!