Contemplating Oz: An Accidental Calling

Life Notes—October 17, 2013 

  “We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us…” Romans 12:6a

“Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”  The Wizard of Oz

I volunteered to coach my son’s first soccer team.  He and his friends were about six years old and needed a coach.  Unfortunately, I knew next to nothing about the game.  I did not know the rules, the skills, or team strategies.  Honestly, I did not even like soccer at the time.  How was I to mold this group of kids into a soccer team?  My only redeeming quality was that I loved watching them play.

The man who became the Wizard of Oz did not intend to become a wizard at all.  He was flying in his hot air balloon, became lost, and landed in Oz.  The people of the land, awed to see him arriving from the sky, crowned him Wizard.  He did not know any more about being a wizard than I knew about coaching soccer.  Dorothy first discovered the fraud and said, “Oh, you’re a very bad man!”  The Wizard replied, “Oh no, my dear, I’m a very good man.  I’m just a very bad wizard.”  I know the feeling.  I was a very good man and a very good father.  I was just a very bad soccer coach.

But was the Wizard really a bad wizard?  Was I really a bad soccer coach?  Although the Wizard could not magically fill the needs of Dorothy and her companions, he was wise enough to recognize they were all misguided about their individual shortcomings.  The Scarecrow did not need a brain; he needed recognition of his existing ability to think.  The Wizard provided that.  The Tin man did not need a heart.  He needed acknowledgement of the loving, caring being he already was.  The Wizard provided that.  The Cowardly Lion did not need courage.  He needed to learn that being afraid of danger does not make one a coward.  The Wizard taught him that.  My son and his friends did not need to become professional soccer players.  They needed an adult to organize their play, protect them from undue harm, and allow them a healthy outlet for their joy and energy.  Maybe I was not such a bad soccer coach after all.

We find ourselves in uncomfortable roles, sometimes, whether we feel qualified for them or not.  When a community has a need, an expert is not always available or necessary.  A new perspective or new energy may meet the need.  Someone who provides time and attention can work miracles in those cases. We do not need to be a good Wizard or a good soccer coach to be a good person.  Sometimes we simply need to be present.

Come home to church this Sunday.  You may discover gifts you did not know you possessed.

Greg Hildenbrand

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