It's not exactly a crowning career achievement, but the last guy selected in the NFL Draft is commonly referred to as "Mr. Irrelevant." It dates back to 1976 when Kelvin Kirk was selected 487th in the 17th round. The "winner" gets a special prize, the Lowsman Trophy, a dinner reception, a parade, and a trip for him and his family to Newport Beach, California for "Irrelevant Week."
What we should never forget pastors is that we are Mr. Irrelevant. It doesn't mean that we're not useful or that God can't use us. But what it does mean is that we're not the golden goose who keeps the Kingdom of God afloat. Tonight we were challenged by a message from 1 Kings 19 where Elijah the prophet is told to pass his cloak on to his successor, Elisha. Think about that one: Elijah had fought the prophets of Baal, had stood up to wicked queen Jezebel, had boldly proclaimed God's word for years. And like that, his turn was up.
One lesson that has always stuck with me is that all of us are placeholders for the next person. None of us are permanent in our positions. We'll leave, and people will forget about us and move on. When we left our last ministry assignment, the goodbyes were hard and we had a touching sendoff in that last bulletin. But then the next week, life went on. I was Mr. Irrelevant.
The thing to never forget is this: God is not dependent on us to finish His work of redemption. Sure we're called to a place for a time to be faithful. But when we're gone, the mission of God continues. We live out what Count Zinzendorf wanted for his life: we preach, we die, we're forgotten.
And we have to be ok with that. We have to be ok with being Mr. Irrelevant. We have to be ok with not being the answer to God's problems. We have to be ok with passing on our cloak to an Elisha. We have to be ok with people moving on. We have to be ok with our successor changing things we put in place.
Why? Because when we're Mr. Irrelevant, we're putting our full confidence and trust that God is going to finish the work that he started. And best of all, He doesn't need us to do it.
So pastor, be obedient. Be faithful. Be bold. Preach your heart out. Work your tail off. Give yourself to your church and your city. Be Mr. Irrelevant. In the end, it really isn't about you or me, it's about Jesus. And He's more than Relevant, He's our King.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.