By Henry Imler
I have a confession to make, I’m not Patrick Mahomes. Anyone who has seen me throw a football will testify to that, but I’m not only referring to my athletic ability. I’m also talking about my life as a Christian. In Ephesians 2:10, Paul sums up the Christian life like this:
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
As an English major, a literary scholar, and a poet, I love this verse because the Greek word for “handiwork” is the same word from which we get “poetry.” There’s a beauty and artform to who we are as God’s creatures. He has crafted us like a poet crafts the words and meter of the poem. However, the difficult part of the verse for me is the other half: doing good works. I sometimes wrestle with a follow-up question (and I know I’m not alone):
Does anyone see my good works?
Human beings are relational creatures, made for community. We crave to know and be known by others. So this question — “Does anyone see my good works?”– isn’t necessarily a selfish one. It’s an extension of that desire to be known.
I work on the Production team at The Crossing as the Lighting Designer. My job is to use lights to transform the auditorium into a space where people can emotionally and relationally connect with Jesus and his people through the corporate singing of songs and proclamation of the God’s Word. If I do my work well, the congregation will never really notice what I’m doing because they are connecting with God in that moment. If they are looking at what I’ve done, that means I’m not doing my job. I’ve distracted them from the reason they are in the auditorium in the first place.
My good works are invisible. And this makes it difficult to feel known by others.
I wrestle with questions like: “Does my ministry matter? Am I helping the church’s mission? Am I even contributing to the kingdom of God?” So what can I do with these kinds of questions and insecurities? How do I persevere through the doubt and discouragement?
For me, I remember that—as we established earlier—I am not Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is the quarterback. He’s the player who throws the football to the receivers, and he’s usually the biggest star on the team. He gets all of the credit when the team wins, and all of the blame for the loss.
I’m more like the offensive line. Their job is to make the quarterback look like the superstar he is. When play starts, nobody is really watching the offensive line play because they’ve got their eyes on the ball. If we notice the offensive line, it’s because one of the linemen missed a defender who tackled the quarterback before he could throw the ball.
Many times, God calls us to the good works of an offensive lineman.
They are works that point to other people. The good works that no one sees. In my case, the works point to the band and the pastors on stage. In their case, their works point to Jesus (the true and better “Patrick Mahomes”).
Sometimes, this dynamic feels like I’m a step removed from pointing to Jesus. But I’m not. I’m an offensive lineman blocking for the quarterback so that they can make the play. Without my blocking the defense, the quarterback can’t throw the ball, and the receiver can’t catch it and score.
I’m not Patrick Mahomes. I’m the guy he trusts to keep the defense away long enough for him to throw the ball down the field. I’m also not the pastor or the worship leader. I’m the person they trust to help them guide the church closer to Jesus. I am God’s handiwork. He created me to do the good work of pointing people back to Jesus, especially when no one notices.