Throughout my career, I have heard the term “fit for purpose.” Basically, it means something that is designed for a specific purpose. Guys on the drilling rigs were written up for using tools incorrectly: a wrench as a hammer for example. I think of the times I’ve used a butter knife as a screwdriver, or the handle of a screw driver to hammer a small nail. It’s always best to use the correct tool. It’s safer and it’s often less frustrating.
1 Corinthians 12 teaches that believers are meant to be “fit for purpose”.
“You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything. You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his “body”: Apostles, prophets, teachers, miracle workers, healers, helpers, organizers, those who pray in tongues. But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, unidimensional Part? It’s not all Apostle, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, not all Healer, not all Prayer in Tongues, not all Interpreter of Tongues. And yet some of you keep competing for so-called “important” parts.”
Corinthians 12:27-31 MSG
I have seen so many new Christians burn out with the effort to become “important” in the church. The excitement is overwhelming and the enthusiasm is palpable. Unfortunately, they are often missing a true mentor to help teach and guide them. They get caught up in being “busy.” I have been guilty of standing back and watching instead of stepping up and helping to direct this new found passion. Finding our “calling” or where are “fit for purpose” in the church body makes all the difference in translating enthusiasm into a standard of life.
“Now God gives us many kinds of special abilities, but it is the same Holy Spirit who is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service to God, but it is the same Lord we are serving. There are many ways in which God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work in and through all of us who are his. The Holy Spirit displays God’s power through each of us as a means of helping the entire church.” 1 Corinthians 12: 4-7 TLB
1 Corinthians 12: 4-7 TLB
We all want to be seen and valued. But, do we all need to stand in the pulpit? Do we all need to be “the star”? Watching my kids and their friends grow to adulthood, I saw the struggle of one young lady as she desired to be the leader of the group. I also saw her frustration when another one of the group fell into leading so easily. We have all witnessed the person who insists on performing during a worship service only to be wounded by the lack of response from the congregation. How many times have we endured the “teaching” of one that seems to speak just to hear themselves and doesn’t know when to be quiet?
“ But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?
1 Corinthians 12:19-24 MSG
My home church meets in a movie theatre. We would not be able to function without the setup crew. Early every Sunday they unload the equipment and set up the areas we use. And, then they tear it down after the services and load it back up. The host teams make sure the coffee is made, cold water is available and puts out the donuts. When the theatre shut down during the pandemic, we were allowed to keep using the building. During those months, some of the most important members were the ones that volunteered to clean the theatre. Volunteers cleaned the restrooms, took out trash, swept, whatever was necessary to keep the building ready. You don’t really see the people involved in these areas, but you DEFINITELY know when they don’t show up.
“ I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, transparent and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.”
1 Corinthians 12: 14-18 MSG
It’s a lot more fun to be on stage; to be known as the preacher, the singer, the teacher, the musician. But not everyone can or needs to be in the spotlight. Just as we protect our more modest body parts, we must watch our own egos to keep them in check. We must find where we fit in the body.
We must be fit for purpose.