From the Rev: Introductions
At the recent 2015 NSCAA (National Soccer Coaches Association of America) Convention in Philadelphia, I was waiting in Starbucks for a meeting when I overheard a woman ask a friend to make introductions with a potential employer and influencer in the game. “Maybe if you could just introduce me,” she suggested, “it could open the door for me.” She was hopeful that her friend had enough influence and rapport to get an opportunity or an audience. As I reflected on the woman’s hopeful tone, I realized my own meeting was about an introduction – waiting to meet someone in the new USL-Pro franchise for Charlotte, the Charlotte Independence. I was, too, hopeful for good introductions and the beginning of a trusting relationship to help develop chaplaincy with this new organization. In fact, much of the the time at the NSCAA Convention and MLS (Major League Soccer) Draft, when we hold our annual chaplain meetings, is about making introductions and networking with friends and colleagues from years past.
Introductions: An Ancient Practice
The need for introductions is nothing new – as I walked away from my meeting that day and thought back to those moments in Starbucks, I was reminded of Paul and Christians in the ancient world. Without the modern resources of LinkedIn or Facebook to help make quick connections, people in the ancient world relied heavily upon references from others. Introductions from people were that were held in high esteem or had wealth or power or influence were highly sought after and desired. These introductions were often made by way of letter and were often carried on the person (like a passport or a wallet, today).
Philemon: An Example of Biblical (Re)Introductions
An example of such is found in the biblical book of Philemon. Here, Paul introduces (or re-introduces) the slave Onesimus to Philemon. As far as we know, Onesimus had runaway from his owner Philemon. At some point, Paul encounters Onesimus, learns his story and sends him back to his owner – trying to make right or just the situation. Within the letter to Philemon, Paul uses several pleas and appeals to Philemon – recalling their friendship, recalling the favors that Philemon owes Paul, naming mutual friends, and offering to settle any financial debts that might be had.
It may seem odd to have the inclusion of such a letter in the Bible – the Word of God. I doubt that MLS or other major corporations keep historical records of the “introductions” that led them to particular player or opportunity. But for the church and the people of God this letter stands as a clear example for the power of introductions (and reintroductions). Paul’s appeals for these two men to love each other, forgive each other, to have restored fellowship and to engage in reconciliation are benchmark standards and goals for Christian believers throughout the ages.
Modern Day Introductions
Fast forward a couple thousand years – whether in a grand convention hall or in a local Starbucks or church – we are still in need of introductions today. As a chaplain to the Colorado Rapids and as a Christian, much of my role is about making introductions – introductions that exceed temporal priorities and impact; introductions that have eternal and lasting benefits. As a chaplain, I sometimes introduce people into a local community or support network. Sometimes, I make introductions to resources or ideas that have to do with being a good father or husband. I also introduce people into places or disciplines that keep their mind and faith sharp amidst the pressures of professional life. And, the greatest privilege for me, is to introduce (or re-introduce) people to Jesus Christ and to his Church.
Friend, maybe you are reading this today and you need an introduction. I cannot claim to be a person of importance or influence, but I do know One with whom I can introduce you and it would make all the difference in the world in your life. I would love to make that introduction for you – please reach out to me and I will.
Rev. Brad Kenney