I have been thoroughly enjoying the Olympics this year. I am not sure what the appeal is, but I have been watching all that I can and following sports I have never really known about before. It is exciting to watch people who prepare themselves through years of training succeed in an event. There is something very special about the international community coming together and doing something together. Beyond that, it is inspiring to see young people, like Missy Franklin, do so well in a sport and handle the platform masterfully.
Yet, as I watch I have to come to grips with the reality that I will never be at that level in swimming or rowing. In fact, the majority of us never will. People like Michael Phelps come along only once in a lifetime. This is not a bad thing because that elite status is what makes the Olympics so unique. I do wonder what would happen if they Olympics took on a different look for one year. What if the Olympics became more about everyday people who do everyday things and never receive recognition? So many people get up each day and impact lives in ways that deserve gold medal recognition. There are people who work hard and give up so much for the lives of others. I think they deserve a medal for their humble efforts, even though most of them wouldn’t want the medal anyway. If I thought about it for a while, I could probably come up with a long list of people to nominate for a medal. But today I want to give a gold medal to two different people.
My wife deserves a gold medal. Our home is busy because we have 3 boys and 1 girl, all of whom are under 8 years of age. I work as a youth pastor and my wife stays home with the kids. I do the best I can, but there are several evenings a week that I am gone at bed time. It is hard enough to do this with two of us, but she does it on her own. So much of the perception that goes into a stay at home mom is wrong. They truly do everything for their kids and get almost no recognition for it. My wife courageously takes the 4 kids places without me. She sits with a sick child in the middle of the night. She washes sheets constantly when kids wet the bed. She hangs out with crabby children with no break, while I go to my office and work in a much calmer environment. (most days) My wife will clean up after the kids in one room, while in the other room the kids are making a mess of the last room she cleaned up. She loves unconditionally and knows more about their nuances than I do. She does not get paid for her work, except for with occasional kisses. She does not receive recognition, if anything people look down on the wife staying home these days. But, she doesn’t complain. She knows this is what God has for her right now and she does it whether she feels well or not. It is commendable. There are times when I stay home with the kids for a few hours and I am always amazed at how easy she makes it seem.
My youth leaders deserve a gold medal. I spend my entire life working in youth ministry, but it is my job. I receive a paycheck to work with teenagers, even though I would do it for free. Yet, so many people work right alongside me in ministry without receiving a paycheck. They spend hours of their own time, after working full-time jobs, pointing teenagers to Jesus Christ. When an issue comes up with someone, they help intervene and will spend time praying with and for the youth in the crisis. They stay connected and are happy to make time for anyone who needs it. They are called by God and even in the tough stuff are determined to stay the course, knowing that God is in control of it all. They spend time with me in prayer and planning meetings. They attend conferences on Saturdays in order to learn and grow in their craft. They spend weekends away from their families in order to go on a retreat with a diverse group of teenagers. They are on the front line of youth ministry and will give all of themselves to reach these kids for Christ. I know they will go unnoticed and they wouldn’t consider what they do all that special, but it is remarkable. I couldn’t do ministry without them and the church is blessed by their commitment. God honors their commitment and I am constantly encouraged by their perseverance and love.
Now I want to turn it over to you. Who are the people you would give a gold medal to and why? Of course, don’t forget to take some time to thank these people for all they are and thank God for allowing them to be a part of your life.