It is Triple Crown horse racing season again. Last Saturday, California Chrome won the Kentucky Derby. As the betting favorite, the horse returned $7 as the 5-2 favorite in the field of 19. With the next race in Baltimore for the Preakness, it is likely that California Chrome will again be the favorite.
Yet, do we sometimes “play the favorites” too often in our ministry?. In such cases, we diminish our risks but we also settle for lesser rewards. Do we place our bets on only those with proven records or strong lineage?
There are some risks in playing the favorites:
> In a richly diverse church, by playing the favorites, we are likely building a limited church of mini-me versions of ourselves. You’ve likely seen that group before – – a gathering of broken people assembled by a broken leader who are all claiming wholeness.
> The challenge of playing the favorites is the potential scandal of “special relationships.” These are relationships which become more about pleasing the other or gaining the favorite of the other much more than a friendship which points toward the Lord.
> At World Youth Day in Rio, Pope Francis pointed out that Jesus’ message of love is not just for some, it is for everyone, and he urged the young people not to be afraid of bringing Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem most indifferent. If we just play the favorites, we are missing out on the fullness of the Great Commission.
For a few summers, I was delegated the responsibility of developing the final slide show for the participants. I knew that I had a weakness for kids who were photogenic… it is just simpler to get a good shot of an engaged, easy-smiling, good-looking kid. To avoid playing the favorites with this task, I actually carried a participant list in my pocket, ensuring that I was taking pictures of everyone.
The Lord bets on the underdog all the time and knows them as they whom are blessed to become inheritors of the Kingdom of Heaven, to be comforted and to have their fill, and, as children of God will obtain mercy and shall see God.