bits from bob....

Stay in Your Lane

by Bob Young
[permission is given to reprint with credit noted]

I love school teachers. They have a way of making things simple. They know how to distill complex situations and to make them easily understood. My mother was a school teacher. My sister is a school teacher. I am a teacher as well as a preacher. My wife and I were staying with friends-she is a retired school teacher, high school administrator. On Saturday evening she described a helpful principle with applications in the school house and also at the church house. She made it memorable when she used the phrase: "stay in your lane."

The next day I taught the auditorium Bible class. The schedule called for me to teach 2 Corinthians 10. Paul writes about staying in the field God assigned him, not straying out of the assignment and not boasting about things beyond his limits or about things done by others. The illustration may be athletic more than agricultural. The reference may be to a race in which lanes are marked out for the runners. Then the NIV "field" (v. 13) would more properly be "lane". The NIV uses "area of activity" in v. 15 and "territory" in v. 16.

Paul is talking about his apostolic ministry. He is claiming that he has worked in Corinth because God placed him there, and that he confines his boasting to the assignments God gives. He is ready to go preach in other regions according to God's will and guidance.

Consider some contemporary applications at the church.

  • Are you scheduled to lead the congregation in prayer? You don't have to redo the work of the greeter. Ditto the communion leader, song leader, and preacher. Where did we get the idea that everyone who stands up front has to engage the church in a series of greetings (the more volume, the better!) and commentaries on insignificant things (like the weather, the volume of the returned greeting, etc.)? Stay in your lane.
  • Are you scheduled to lead the closing prayer? Don't lead a 15-minute rehash of the opening prayer. And don't think it is your job to re-preach the sermon. Nor is it your job to correct stray comments from the Lord's Supper. Stay in your lane.
  • Are you to lead the congregation in communion thoughts? It is not your job to preach the sermon of the day. Stay in your lane.
  • I could continue the illustrations, but surely you can see the point. It's always a good idea and it makes things run more smoothly: stay in your lane.

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    Last updated February 22, 2011