While Pastor Rick is on study leave, our guest blogger this week is Dr. David Faust, Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church and an accomplished writer and speaker.
History is filled with great assists. Wilt Chamberlain scored the most points ever in a National Basketball Association game on March 2, 1962, pouring in 100 points as the Philadelphia Warriors defeated the New York Knickerbockers, 169-147. It’s easy to overlook, however, how Chamberlain’s unselfish teammates passed him the ball over and over again.
New York Yankees pitcher Don Larsen tossed the only perfect game in World Series history on October 8, 1956, against the Brooklyn Dodgers. But Larsen could not have accomplished this feat without his steady-handed catcher, Yogi Berra, and his center-fielder Mickey Mantle, whose great fifth-inning catch preserved the no-hitter.
Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears ran for more yards (16,726) and scored more rushing touchdowns (110) than any other running back in National Football League history. But few can name the offensive linemen who blocked for Payton game after game.
Some key assists come from teachers. The great composer, George Frederick Handel, learned about keyboard composition and performance from a little-known organist and choir director named F. W. Zachow. Artist Norman Rockwell got his start when a high school art teacher helped him obtain his first commissions as an illustrator for Boys Life and eventually The Saturday Evening Post. George Washington Carver, the botanist who developed more than 300 by-products from the peanut and sweet potato, was an orphan who began his education in a one-room schoolhouse. Did the teacher in that tiny rural school realize his student would become one of America’s greatest scientists?
Many great assists come from parents or other family members. John and Charles Wesley, famous for their preaching and hymn-writing, were profoundly influenced by their mother, Susanna. Susanna spent hours in daily prayer and Bible study, and though her family was quite large (she bore 19 children altogether, 10 of whom lived to adulthood), she scheduled lots of personal time with her children, designating different nights of the week for one-on-one discussions with each child.
Alexander Graham Bell initially learned about the mechanics of sound from his grandfather, who was a speech tutor. Bell’s exhausting efforts to develop the telephone and other inventions were inspired by love for his hearing-impaired wife, Mabel, who encouraged him to persevere.
Great assists happen every day in classrooms, offices, factories, and hospitals as people quietly meet needs. Not everyone is a general who leads troops into battle. Some are more like Clara Barton, who assisted behind the scenes as a nurse, cook, and advocate for the wounded.
Some of my favorite Bible characters are the humble folks who served in the background. Think of Andrew, who brought his better-known brother, Simon Peter, to Jesus. Or Lois and Eunice, Timothy’s godly grandmother and mother who taught him the Scriptures from infancy. Or Onesiphorus, the little-known believer who often refreshed the apostle Paul (2 Timothy 1:16-18).
These faithful servants remind me of the ones I see at church—behind-the-scenes, often unnoticed workers who support missionaries, teach children, care for their neighbors, and spend quality time with teens. I thank God for church custodians and sound technicians, prayer warriors and diaper changers, bathroom scrubbers and communion cup fillers, small group leaders and nursing home volunteers who change lives in quiet ways.
You can be a light in the world without being in the limelight. How will you give someone an assist this week?