I'm not a die hard Yankees fan. That would be kind of tough, considering I only moved to the US a year ago. But even fifteen years ago, when we first lived in the States, I was already fascinated by the rich history of the Yankees. So when I had to 'pick' a team to support after we moved to New York, the Yankees were the logical choice. In July, I went to a game in Yankee Stadium and it was an awesome experience.
These last months and especially the last few weeks, I've been following the news about Derek Jeter's retirement. What was interesting, were the comments and opinions about how good a player he really was. More than a few commenters argued that Jeter is a hype, that he really wasn't that brilliant of a player, that there are dozens of players far more talented than him.
Another commenter responded to this criticism and it hit home. Here's the gist of his argument: it's true, Derek Jeter wasn't the most giften, or the most talented baseball player ever. There are many who played better and more consistent than him.
But for twenty years, he did nothing else but play baseball. He showed up, he played. His private life stayed scandal free, his public appearances were always full of respect for the fans and the press, his charity did great work. He never whined, he never blamed others when things didn't go well, he just showed up and played baseball to the best of his abilities.
That's what made Derek Jeter great. He showed up and he played. For twenty years, he lived and breathed his sport and that's what made him earn his stripes.
So here's to you, the Derek Jeters of youth ministry. Maybe you're not the most gifted speaker, maybe there are dozens with more creative ideas than you. Maybe your youth ministry hasn't grown as much as others' have. Maybe there are tons of other youth pastors who are better known than you, more popular, better paid.
But you show up. You're there, year after year, maybe even twenty years long. You don't whine, you don't point to others, you just show up and you do what needs to be done. That's what makes you a great youth pastor, that's what makes you earn your stripes.
May God bless you for serving consistently and with love. Well done you faithful servant!