I flew back from Dallas this afternoon, and happened to get upgraded to first class. I was all set for a quiet flight home, when a man sat down in the seat next to me and seemed a little restless. He read the paper, ordered a beer, and then a second one, and by the time we were approaching Indianapolis, he shared the fact that he was an airline pilot, and he was frustrated that he has taken a 27% pay cut in the last several years. In fact, he is making less than he did in 1999, and told me that during the same period, high level executive compensation at the airline has increased 700%. He is locked in, can’t go anywhere else, and when I shared with him that I always had a dream about being a pilot, he almost laughed out loud. He told me that he would never encourage anyone to become a pilot, and although he used to enjoy flying, he is tied to the airline, and will never be able to do anything else. He was obviously annoyed and felt trapped in his job; alone.
Of course, this is not the first time I have heard a story like this. And if you have been reading my posts for the last week or so, you will recall that many people in my life are struggling right now. Several of them have serious health issues, and I am aware of others who are struggling with employment crises, or relational issues with their teams at work. In fact, many people in my life are overwhelmed right now, and all they want is peace. Of course, usually the opposite thing happens, and they get a little impatient, or intolerant, and that never serves anyone well. Because the thing that most of us forget is that battling the giants in our lives is a team effort.
Let me explain with an illustration from the Bible. The story revolves around Joshua, an understudy to Moses, who is learning to be a great leader by being a loyal follower. He is a military man, and we are told in Exodus 17:9 “So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”
While it sounds like Moses is going up on the mountain to avoid the fight, we learn in the following several verses that Moses actually prays for the troops, and as long as he raises his hands in the air, Joshua’s troops are winning; but when he gets tired and lets his arms down, the Amalekites start winning. So Aaron, Moses’s brother, and Hur, another trusted companion, place a rock under Moses so he can sit down; and then they hold up his arms until sunset, when Joshua wins the battle. And the Amalekites were vanquished. In fact, God instructs Moses, in Ex. 17:14, “Write this in a book as a memorial and recite it to Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”
While this seems like such an insignificant story, it has become one of my personal favorites, because we see an entire team at work. Joshua, actually on the field, swinging his sword, like we do so much of the time – trying to win our battles by force, and usually alone. But we forget that we have people around us, like Joshua had Moses, who are praying for us. And, besides that, even Moses had help from Aaron and Hur, who held up his arms and supported him, making him as comfortable as possible, so Moses could continue to pray. Because sometimes, praying can be hard work, and those who pray need support as much as the rest of the team.
So what can we learn from this incredible story? That there will be times in your life when you will feel like Joshua; actually in the middle of the fight. And there will be other times when you will be more like Moses, praying for those people who are struggling; and even other times, you will be like Hur or Aaron, supporting the prayer efforts of others. But one thing is for sure – as a Christian, you will be called for all these positions during your life. The key is to know where you are needed on the team at the moment – and to respond to the needs of others. And when the day comes that you are on the battlefield, be assured that God has placed others on the hill who are praying for you and supporting your need. You can count on it – because God know your need and you are not alone.
So my encouragement today is that you always look for opportunities to be active on the team. We need you, and you have a divine mandate from God. Go Team!