In the days of stagecoaches, outlaws, and the Wild West, you had choices. When you bought a ticket on the nine-passenger Concord stagecoach, you could choose between three options.
First-class tickets guaranteed you a seat in the coach no matter what the weather or circumstances, though you might still be robbed or shot. Second-class tickets required you to get out of the coach from time to time and walk alongside it, if the horses were tired or the road too muddy to allow easy passage. Third-class tickets—the cheapest—allowed you to ride in the coach but required you to get out, roll up your sleeves, and push it when it was bogged or negotiating particularly steep terrain…and do so without complaining.
No prizes for guessing what ticket you purchased when you said “Yes” to Christian leadership. Or is that not so obvious?
In a culture steeped in entitlement, a culture that expects leadership to involve perks and privileges, and a culture that believes leaders have a more sacred role than followers, we may actually (perhaps even unintentionally) start believing that leaders are “first-class ticket-holders.”
But the Kingdom of God, in typical fashion, turns such wrong-headed thinking upsidedown.
The decision to follow Jesus and walk by the Spirit of God is a commitment to “get out and push whenever asked—without complaining.” Indeed—surprise, surprise—there are no first-class or second-class tickets available!
Upon her Inauguration as President at the beleaguered and struggling Vanguard University (Southern California) in 2010, Carol Taylor received a Third-Class Ticket. The speaker in that service—Dr. George Wood—made it clear that Presidency was not the pathway to privilege but the responsibility to serve; sacrificially, whole-heartedly, and uncomplainingly.
Grumbling and complaining can reach sophisticated levels among us. We like to look like martyrs without shedding a drop of blood. But our chronic misery (“Woe is me”) perhaps betrays a “first-class ticket” heart.
In many respects, the American Wild West has not passed into history. The stagecoaches may belong to museums and historic sites, but we must still choose our ticket. And as Christ moves you from one place to another—through one season and another—for one purpose or another—what class ticket have you bought?