Lessons 3 and 4
Lesson 3: Focus on individual achievement in an encouraging group format.
The Y does a great at helping kids focus on personal achievement. Those swimmers may very well have not a clue about who won or who came in second, but they know if they’ve beat their own previous best time. And, it’s amazing to see how those kids know and respond to their teammates who have expressed a desire to do better in an event that they’ve been working on, or in a new event that they are trying. You can see groups of friends at the other end of the pool cheering on their teammates.
In a meet this season, in an event that is only rarely offered because it is so long—the 1650—my daughter was in the pool, trying to beat the time she got in the one time the event was offered last season. She was in the pool with a couple of older, very strong and fast boys, and two other girls, one from her own team who’s usually faster than she is and another fast girl from a different team. My daughter ended up being the last to finish, but you wouldn’t have guessed from the look on her face when she looked up at the board. She had beaten her previous time by a minute. She was thrilled and so were her friends for her.
That’s part of what we do as the body of Christ—encourage and support each other in the development of our individual gifts and talents, and in our exploration of new gifts and talents. It’s important that we be an encouraging presence as we gather.
Lesson 4: Everyone in the pool.
There’s a young, disabled woman who swims for another Y not too far away. She’s been swimming for their swim team for years. She’s about 19 now, and because she’s over the age of 13, there are not a lot of shorter events in which she may compete. At a recent meet, she swam in the 100 yard freestyle This is an event that takes most swimmers from just under a minute to about a minute and a half to complete. It takes this particular young woman just under three minutes and that means that she usually swims the second half of the event by herself; the other swimmers have already finished.
In a recent meet, as she made the turn to swim the final leg of the event, the last 25 yards, people started to applaud, until just about everyone in that place was applauding, for the entire time it took her to get from one end of the pool to the other. The noise was thunderous, and amazing. She may have come in last and considerably slower than the rest, but everyone recognized her effort and her place. She may not win any awards, but everyone—almost instinctively—recognized that she belonged in the pool, that’s it’s important to participate.
Those parts that seem weaker, are indispensible in the body of Christ. It’s not just about celebrating the “best” or the “fastest,” or who demonstrates particular strengths in the offering of their gifts and talents. The body of Christ is also about participating, about being a part of the body, and reflecting that God values the “weaker” and less obviously “gifted” parts of the body.
Get in the pool! And, let’s be the body of Christ.