The battle for the podium
There’s an epic battle being waged across Europe right now, and most of you didn’t even know it.
I’m talking about the most celebrated, most-watched, most talked about cycling race in the world: the Tour de France. It barely registers on the news wires in this country for reason I will not explain here. And if you’ve ever attempted to watch one of the 20 stages of a tour (most of which take around 5 hours), you probably fell asleep or switched the channel.
But here’s what’s really going on. Each of the 22 teams (consisting of 9 riders each) are attempting to get their best rider on the podium. And they work throughout the tour to accomplish that by using their strengths and strategy. Often they toil in obscurity, riding in front of their leader to help him conserve energy, or trading bikes if his breaks down. They serve as couriers bringing food and water from the team car up to the leader. Most of them will never get much recognition.
So why do they do it? They do it so their leader can stand atop the podium at the end of the day or the end of the tour.
As followers of Jesus we, too, have a “team leader.” And at the end of the day we want him to be standing atop the podium. We want him to be in first place, to get the glory and fame. The way we make sure that happens is by doing the things we’re on the team to do. For some it’s serving in obscurity. For some it’s giving sacrificially. For some it’s opening their homes and lives in hospitality. For some it’s leading diligently. For some it’s praying passionately. For some it’s encouraging consistently.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Romans 12:6-8
Everyone on Jesus’ team is on the team for a reason. And that reason is not for us. It’s for the leader.
So how are you “riding” this season? Who are you riding for? It’s easy to think the race is about us. It’s easy to plot our own strategy for climbing the podium. Are you riding for the team leader? Are you waking up in the morning and using your life and gifts to ensure that what people see is your leader, Jesus?