Have You Been Benched?

A dear friend told me a beautiful story that perfectly illustrates a truth I would like to tell you. Here is the truth, and then I will give you the story.

TRUTH: Your value is in your position not your performance.

Story: When my friend was a little girl, the church she attended was very strict. There were many rules to keep about keeping the rules. If a person was a “member” of the church you had to be an especially good rule keeper. Sometimes if an adult member broke a rule, they had to sit outside on a wooden bench while they waited for the non-rule breaking members to decide on a punishment for them that matched the rule they broke.  It was a physical and emotional  place of exile.

My friend remembers watching these poor “rule breakers” sit and wait until they were called into the congregation. She remembers the fear on their faces or the tears of shame that fell from their eyes. She remembers feeling that they must wait on the “outside” while they and their “bad” rule-breaking behaviors were discussed “inside” the church..  She believed that a rule-breaker was not only separated from the good members but from God Himself.  Her thoughts formed around that memory and told her a lie. The lie was that if she failed….anywhere at any time…she was benched.  Exiled from the Lord’s love. Repeatedly that belief would drag her emotionally to the wooden bench to sit alone in fear and shame just like the people she had witnessed.  Secluded and waiting for God to pass His critical eye over her until He voted her back inside His love.

Let me ask you a question. Are you benched? Have your thoughts been telling you that you cannot get off the exiled bench and play or enjoy the freedom of ministry because you have been a rule-breaker?  Have you been believing what others make you feel?

We all need a powerful catalyst to move us from our respective and unique places of the bench . How do we stand up and come back to the place of dignity that Jesus gives us?

  • Ask the Lord to help you lose your “adult –self consciousness’.” This does not mean that we stop being wise or act childishly, but to restore our original joy-like freedom. Have you ever noticed how “self-conscience” we become when someone has made us feel benched?  We must switch our focus to the voice of Jesus at work within us. He sits next to us and gently whispers that His emphasis has a lot more with being than doing.
  • Ask the Lord to help you re-gain the courage to be yourself When we greet the Lord at physical death, I don’t believe He will ask us, “Why weren’t you Billy Graham”…( or you fill in the blank) Instead He may ask us, “Why weren’t you…..well, YOU? The authentic disciple of Jesus is not a cookie cutter person. Ask God for the courage to be your own memorable and distinct character for the kingdom.
  • Get off the bench. Jesus comes to us and tells us to “go…” He is looking into your eyes and telling you the this truth. He is the One who gives you your identity. Sometimes our lives feel like messy and long departures from where those who make the rules say we should be. If you might be caught up in the authority of credentials, of human valuation, or bondage of “the way we have always done it,” please get up. The very action of standing to your feet emotionally will defuse those who want to bench you. Then you will remember, “Ah yes…my value is in my position, not my performance.


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