Whether you like Tom Brady or not, there is no denying that he is the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) in professional football. He is a seven-time Super Bowl Champion, five-time Super Bowl MVP, three-time Most Valuable Player, fifteen-time Pro Bowl Selection, and owns almost every career statistical record for a quarterback. The fact that he is still playing in the NFL and playing at a high level at 44 years old is almost more impressive. His current team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, lost in the Divisional Round of the National Football League Playoffs sparking speculation that Brady may retire this off-season. (He did decide to retire this week.) Appearing on his own podcast, Let’s Go!, with co-host Jim Gray after the loss, he said of this season that may be his last, “I would say I’m proud and satisfied of everything we accomplished this year. I know when I give it my all that’s something to be proud of.” I was struck by that sentiment. One of Tom Brady’s strengths has always been his intelligence, but his emotional intelligence seems to be strong as well. Tom Brady’s season ending perspective recalled the Parable of the Talents from Mathew 25:14-30 for me and a different criterion for success than we usually use.15 To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.16 He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. 17 So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. 18 But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master's money. As you know, when the man returns, he pronounces to the first two “‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” The man was less joyful with the third servant. What is often lost in the telling of this story is it is not a tale of economic success. Sure, the first and second servants double their investments, but their praise is framed in terms of faithfulness to task. Likewise, the scorn of the servant that buried his talent is marked by an accusation of sloth. The first two were equally praised, even though, their accomplishments were not the same, because the effort and intent were the key factors in the judgement. This is a lesson for the church too. Have we slothfully hidden our talents with no expectation of growth? Are we striving to do and grow, whether that growth is smaller or larger? More importantly, what of ourselves are we investing in the future? Many churches, ministries, and pastors are doing annual reports this time of year. How many will write “I would say I’m proud and satisfied of everything we accomplished this year. I know when I give it my all that’s something to be proud of.”? I would argue that more should! The criterion for success is not doubling – attendance, baptisms, membership, or giving – it is faithfulness to the ministry of God. What are you faithfully doing?
Blessings, Rev. Tim Blodgett General Presbyter