Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Perpetual Rookie

Jason used to work at a dairy processing plant. He worked there for around 17 years total. It was a practice in his department at this dairy plant to give everyone a nickname. When he would tell me stories about his workplace, I would hear about people named Cornbread and Redneck. There was one guy called Buttermilk... and one of my favorite names... Jughead. So what name did Jason get? Rookie. He even had a nametag with "Rookie" on it. The name stuck around for his whole career at the dairy plant.

Rookie (n.)- Someone who is new to a sport or profession. A novice. (How can someone be a rookie for 17 years?)

The opposite of a rookie is a veteran.
Veteran (n.)- A person with long term experience or practice.

Today, as I was online messaging someone, I made the statement, "There are many practical things I really cannot offer much [counsel] on because I am still a 'rookie' on the field."  It got me thinking about two things...

1) When will I become a veteran?
2) Is there anything good about being a rookie?

At some point, maybe after the first term or somewhere into the second term, people begin to refer to people like us as veterans. We will, much like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, go from being rookies to veterans. I am not sure when the magical transformation will happen. (I wonder if we will even realize it when it does.) But when it does happen, I think there are some rookie traits that I really want to keep.

I really want to keep the rookie zeal. There is nothing as exciting and motivating as the rookie zeal! They are ready to conquer any mountain. They just want to do anything they can for the sake of the Gospel. Matter of fact, without this level of zeal, I am not sure anyone in their right mind would go to many of these fields... including ours! The zeal gives boldness and courage... courage to leave family and friends behind and go to a country where they don't use toilet paper and the traffic is so scary it can make a grown man scream like a teenage girl. (Some people think you have to be half crazy to do what we do... I say the craziness helps, but the zeal is better.) I truly hope I never lose the zeal and excitement I have for serving the Lord here.
Titus 2:14 "Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."

I really want to keep the rookie teachable nature. I know there are some rookies out there who will not listen to wisdom and counsel. They think they can do it better and they don't need anyone's help... but I am not so sure that it is because they are rookies. I think it is a personal pride issue that rookies and veterans both struggle with. Rookies who have a submissive heart toward God (like we all should) are sponges! They want to learn! They are willing to learn! Everything is all new. They are willing to admit they are rookies and need the help of veterans. That is why many (like our family) choose to work with veterans for at least one term. I sure hope I never reach the point where I "know" too much that I will not take time to listen and learn.
Proverbs 1:7 "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction."
I really want to keep the rookie tenderness. I was listening to a veteran speak one time. He serves in a field where the people ring bells throughout the day everyday to wake up their gods. He said that it broke his heart to realize that he had grown so use to hearing the bells that he didn't even hear them on many days. As we serve on this field, we too hear bells ringing all day. With every ring, my heart hurts for them and for my God. The bells stir up a tenderness and compassion in me that I cannot explain. How easy it will be over the years to tune the bells out... I do not want to grow comfortable with the darkness. I do not want to lose my tears for these people. (Lord, help me keep my tenderness!)
Psalm 126:5 "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy. "

I want to keep the rookie sense of humor. As we are learning things (especially the language), we are daily given opportunities to laugh at ourselves... out loud. We constantly use the wrong words and say silly things! But we don't sweat it. We are rookies! Mistakes are bound to happen! And veterans can make mistakes, too. I pray that when I am a veteran, I can be as forgiving to myself as I am now. I hope that the things that we are able to laugh about now (crazy traffic, culture issues, stepping in cow poop, etc.) do not become a point of bitterness, anger, or frustration.
Proverbs 17:22 "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones."

One day, I will be a veteran. I welcome the fact that I will have more experience and more knowledge. I don't want to always make mistakes only rookies would make. I don't always want to be inhibited by my language ignorance. I want to GROW! But I hope that when I become a veteran, I keep a rookie heart. I have met several veterans who kept a rookie heart... they impacted my life more than I could ever explain.


David and Dee Dee Sterling said...

Very well written, Charity! I totally agree with you! Sadly in our day and age some missionaries arrive on the field lacking in one or more of these areas, not to mention the "veterans"! May we always be zealous, teachable, tender, with a sense of humor to help us through those moments when you can either laugh or cry! Thank you for this post! It was an encouragement to my heart!

Jen said...

Really good thought! As Dee Dee said above, may we always be zealous, teachable, tender, with a sense of humor!