Today’s post is written by Geoff Twigg, Adjunct Professor at North Park University in Chicago. Geoff is a pastor, singer/songwriter, worship leader and ministry consultant, and serves the ECC as a member of the denomination’s Commission on Worship.
Eighteen years ago, I was looking for a break. I had a reasonable career in music, but it meant being away from home and family more than half of the time. The children were nine, seven and four, and my wife was carrying an unfair share of the load of parenting.
The break came when a church offered us a house and enough money to live on for a year. In exchange, we had to move to Pennsylvania and I would become ‘player/coach’ to the church’s worship team. I would lead by example, and share my enthusiasm with those around me. So, we went through the process of obtaining visas; as we were moving from England in a pre-9/11 world the process was exacting but not as tough as it would be today.
By the way, the sporting analogy they used for my job description was a decisive element. Not only did it appeal to my imagination as a sports fan, but it was the same analogy God used to confirm that I should stay in the US permanently.
Another great sporting analogy played itself out this week, and I’m trying to learn its lesson. Five years after we left England, Thierry Henry, a young French soccer player joined Arsenal FC, the team I support in London. After some minor changes to his positional play, he quickly became a star player and, eventually a legend. I loved to watch him play, and his team-mates loved playing alongside him.
After eight years at the club, he moved on, having scored 227 goals and broken many records for sporting achievements. These days he plays for the New York Red Bull in the MLS.
Last month they unveiled a statue outside the new Arsenal Stadium in Thierry’s honor. He attended the ceremony and shed a tear as he explained how much the club had come to mean to him. He had become a fan, he said, upon leaving the Arsenal, and looked back fondly upon his time there.
This week, they signed him again – just for a brief period, before he returns to play in New York – as during the African Cup they need some extra help. He played on Monday and scored the winning goal, a bright and charming moment in a slow and difficult game.
Thierry was positively glowing as they interviewed him after the match. Goal #228 was the first he had scored ‘as a fan’, and it meant more than almost any other. His enthusiasm was positively contagious, and you could tell he was humbled by the renewed success.
I’m still leading worship in the local church, and my calling can still be described in the same terms. What I learn from Thierry Henry, however, is that while my skills may enable me to be successful, it’s my attitude that’s truly contagious. Lord, let me ever be an enthusiastic, passionate follower of Christ.