You Are Essential Personnel!


Last fall with the government shut down, for 16 days, only essential personnel was to report to work. This past week during the frigid cold and snow that blanketed a huge part of the country, in many places, only essential personnel was advised to go out in this weather. I understand under those conditions why it’s used, but I have a real disdain for the term “essential personnel.” Wouldn’t Christianity be richer and our Christian faith more beautiful if we could see all of God’s children as essential personnel? With the winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia rapidly approaching in just a week or so, consider this example of essential personnel.

Keith Wagner in the book, Ice Fishing, Anyone?, tells how after falling twice in the 1988 Olympic speed-skating races Dan Jansen sought out sports psychologist Dr. Jim Loeher, who helped him find a new balance between his sport and his life. Dr. Loeher also helped Jansen learn to focus on the mental aspects of skating. Peter Mueller became his coach, putting him through workouts that Dan since described as the “toughest I have ever known.” By the time the 1994 Olympics arrived, Jansen had more confidence than ever. He had set a 500-meter world record just two months earlier. The Olympic title in that event seemed to belong to him.

Unfortunately, Jansen fell during the 500-meter race. He was disappointed and shaken. But, Dr. Loeher immediately advised him to start preparing for the 1,000-meter race. He said, “the 500-meter race is gone. Put it behind you.” However the 1,000-meter race for which Jansen’s had also qualified for was his weakest event. But, there was no other chance for him to receive a medal. Following the wisdom of Dr. Loeher and his coach, Peter Mueller, Jansen won the 1,000 -meter race and did it in record time.

Jansen’s win is a wonderful Olympic success story. However, Dr. Leoher and Peter Mueller was as much “essential personnel” in Jansen’s victory and success as he was. I’m absolutely convinced that there are many more unnamed “essential personnel” in this story of Olympic victory and success as well. That’s why it’s important that as Christians, we each know that no matter what work God calls you to do in God’s realm, “You are Essential Personnel.” Like with the first disciples, Andrew, Simon, James and John, Jesus calls each of us to something that not only gives purpose and meaning to our lives, but empowers us as “essential personnel” in changing our church, our community and our world. And like those Jansen and first disciples, if we follow our heavenly psychologist and coach, our lives will never be the same.

Join us for worship at Covenant this Sunday morning at 10 AM and discover that “You Are Essential Personnel” to God. I will be preaching a sermon on that title based on the scriptural text of I Corinthians 1:10-18 and Matthew 4:18-23.


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