It was the kind of hot that you feel in your joints. That kind of hot that makes it dangerous and necessary to sit down and take breaks when you’re working outside. I had a work crew of about 13 people with one other adult. We were on a missions work-site for a SBC entity repainting and doing minor repairs to a needy home.
We had been on the site for three days and my leg had all but given out. (see part one) After day one, I had to use a cane, and now at halfway through day three I was unable to stand up without pain. I tried to hide my weakness from the crew and attempted to insist on leading by example. But God, in His divine providence, placed on my crew the only student in my ministry that I would be willing to listen to. The tyrant nurse demanded that I sit and direct from the grass.
So, imagine the scene: We’ve been working hard all morning and we are exhausted. The students on my crew were sweaty, sleep deprived, and anxious for a break. By this point in the week their relationships are solidified and they’re no longer trying to impress each other. My leg felt like it was on fire and I really couldn’t walk well or stand for long without leaning on something. Every step sent painful waves up my leg. So… I listened to that faithful student and sat for a break. It was about an hour after our lunch break.
Now… please understand… I don’t sit when there is work to do. I work. If I’m in charge of a work-site or a mission, I accomplish the goal and lead by doing. I may move slow, but I keep moving until it’s time to stop. So, sitting is not in my nature. But in this moment, the tyrant was right.
About the same time I sat down, another crew member sat down to take a water break. Behind us was a large pile of brush and bushes that needed to be cut away from the neighboring fence and dragged to the street. The other adult on the crew told the young man beside me, “Hey, we’ll all take a break in about 30 minutes. Go clear that brush.” I had rested about 5 minutes (until the tyrant was out of visual range), then I stood up and limped over to clear the brush.
My resting compatriot rolled his eyes and said, “Hey! Is that supposed to make me want to clear the brush?”
I laughed, “No… it’s supposed to clear the brush.”
He jumped up. “Sit down! I’ll do it.”
I laughed again, “Make me.”
“Come on man! I was just taking a break.”
I responded, “I didn’t say anything to you about a break. You do your thing bro, I’m gonna clear this brush.”
His countenance changed immediately. Suddenly he realized that we weren’t forcing him to paint and clear brush, we were allowing him to. No one was judging him or telling him he was lazy. We were just working to get the job done. He saw me working through pain, and he worked harder. I’d like to believe that this moment left an indelible impact on his life and that one day he’ll write a tell all book with a chapter in it dedicated to his limping crew chief… most likely he will still take extra breaks and try to get out of working hard and may never remember that moment. But, in that moment, that boy got to work and we cleared the brush.
I do know that others have expressed that there is a certain power they have learned by seeing suffering people overcome their suffering. When people who you are leading see you struggle, they recognize that the struggle is not the end and they have hope.
Sometimes people need to see your pain. Not because they need to pity you or because you’ll get more work from them if they do. But because they need to know that what they are doing transcends comfort levels. They need to see that suffering is part of life and they can move past it. They need to know someone can make it through the suffering that is all too common in this life.
So push through your suffering, you’ll find your example will inspire. It might not inspire many… but it will inspire. You can do it, push through.
This is part two of a series of undetermined length. pt. 1 is here