The 6th man

March 6, 2008

I received news yesterday that has really got me thinking. Please allow me to elaborate.

Before I go into my news, let me just say that one of the things that really inspires me is the 6th man.  For those of you who are not big sports fans, the 6th man is the basketball term for the man or woman who does not start, and is not necessarily the biggest “star player” on the team, but they frequently come in and assert their importance in the way they play their role.  That role may be a 3 pointer, or rebounding, or blocked shots, or even scoring field goals (not through the uprights), but there is no doubt that they a)make a huge impact and b)are in the game for a very specific task.

Some examples of great 6th men are Kevin McHale, Bill Walton, Dennis Rodman (pre-skirt days), Leandro Barbosa, and others who I will no doubt be chastised for forgetting.

So yesterday I received some news that a close friend of my family had been diagnosed with lung cancer.  His name is Bob.  Bob lives in Fremont, Ohio. 

Bob is an amazing guy who always has a smile on his face.  Bob and his wife Judy helped out in the youth group at our church growing up.  They were not the youth pastors, but their impact was widespread.  They invited teens into their home and let them play and eat and hang out and be kids, and never asked anything of them.

If you needed to talk, Bob was there.
If you needed a hand fixing your new “used” red Pontiac 1000 (honestly, it wasn’t a chevette), Bob was there.
If you needed a ride when the 1000 broke down, Bob was there.
If the youth group needed a place to hang out and play games, Bob was there.
If the youth pastor needed a task to be done, there was no doubt that Bob was there.  Probably smiling.

Bob was never the star, but he was always accomplishing his role – the task God had given him to accomplish in his life during that time.  It was a great lesson for the son of a pastor in a small town in Ohio who would eventually become a pastor himself, but not before sitting in an assistant position for 10 years.  It was a great lesson for me.

Not everyone is the “star”, but the truly special people of this world are the ones who are not, yet shine brighter than everyone else.  This story reminds me of a story that Buddy told about a “6th man” in his church in New York.

Who has been an example of the stellar “6th” man in your life?

Until next time…