A family sat down at the dinner table following church one Sunday. “The sermon was boring today,” said the teenage son. “Yeah, could you believe how the pastor stumbled over the reading of the Scripture?” his sister chimed in. “I’ve got to admit it was an uninspiring day,” said mother. “The choir was terrible.” Finally, the father, showing his leadership, said, “Hush, you guys. Quit complaining. What did you expect for a quarter?”
I know that all of you were saddened to learn this week of the death of one of our church’s most valuable members – someone else. Someone’s passing created a vacancy that will be difficult to fill. Else has been with us for many years and for every one of those years, Someone did far more than the normal person’s share of the work. Whenever leadership was mentioned, this wonderful person was looked to for inspiration as well as results. Someone Else can work with that group. Whenever there was a job to do, a class to teach, or a meeting to attend, one name was on everyone’s lips, “Let Someone Else do it”. It was common knowledge that Someone Else was among the largest givers in the church. Whenever there was a financial need, everyone just assumed that Someone Else would make up the difference. Someone Else was a wonderful person, sometimes appearing super-human, but a person can only do so much.
God never goes to the lazy or the idle when He needs a leader for His service. He always seems to go to those who are already at work — the busy person. Moses was busy with his flock at Horeb. Gideon was busy threshing wheat by the winepress.
Saul was busy searching for his father’s lost beasts. David was busy caring for his father’s sheep. Elisha was busy plowing with twelve yoke of oxen. Nehemiah was busy bearing the king’s wine cup. Amos was busy following the flock and raising sycamore fruit. Peter and Andrew were busy casting a net into the sea. James and John were busy mending their nets. Matthew was busy collecting customs. Saul was busy persecuting the friends of Jesus.
Amos Alonzo Stagg was one of the great football coaches in the sport. As a coach, he kept his substitutes on the bench constantly alert by suddenly popping questions at them while the game was underway. One afternoon he turned to a fourth-string player who hadn’t seen a single minute of game time all season. Stagg barked, “You! Cartmell! What would you do if we had possession of the ball with one minute to play, the score tied, and we had only four yards to go for a touchdown?” “Well, coach,” the young man stammered. “I believe I’d slide down to the end of the bench so I could see better.”
Today we talk about AMOS, which is the Hebrew word meaning “burden”. In the second quarter of the eighth century B.C. there lived a man named Amos who prophesied. His message was one of great wealth and corruption was destroying the nation and the people. As a result of Jeroboam II’s successes against the Moabites and the Aramaeans, the borders of the Northern Kingdom reached their widest extent since the time of Solomon. It was the most prosperous times since the days of Solomon. It is not a popular time to prophesy against luxurious living, idolatry, and the moral depravity of Israel. A time when the people are rich, feeling safe and Amos calls them backsliders!
Amos was one of the twelve minor prophets and a native of Tekoa, a town about six miles south of Bethlehem. He belonged to the shepherds there and was not trained in any school of the prophets, no real formal education. Shepherding didn’t provide enough income so he was also a fig picker. As a fig picker his hands would have been stained. He would not have been an attractive sight, nor being a shepherd would he have smelled very well. Yet, he was called by the Lord to prophesy concerning Israel. A poor and basically powerless man who stood up and condemned the wealthy class of the nation for cheating the poor through oppressive taxes and the use of false weights and measures.
God needs leaders from all walks of life and possessing all types of talents. Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” This is a man who received the finest education that Egypt had to offer. The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD?
Arthur Caliandro, who succeeded Norman Vincent Peale as senior pastor of New York’s Marble Collegiate Church, was faced with an administrative decision. He put off making the decision, hoping it would take care of itself or that someone else would handle it. A friend, Amos Parish, invited Arthur to lunch. During the meal, Amos asked the pastor, “Do you know the game of baseball?” Arthur said he did, so Amos asked, “What does the pitcher do?” “He throws the ball to the batter.” Amos said, “Then tell me what the catcher does.” Arthur answered, “He stands behind the batter and catches the balls the batter either misses or chooses not to hit.” Amos went on to explain: “Some people are pitchers. They take charge of things They throw the ball. Others are catchers. They don’t make decisions. They catch whatever is thrown at them. When you want to do something with your life, be a pitcher!”