The ministry of Tom Thumb

perlmanI hope you’re not disappointed, but I’ve nothing to say about the Tom Thumb of 17th century English folklore. It just so happens that my name is Tom and I’m here to talk about thumbs. Being a thumb is often a thankless job, in spite of the fact that thumbs make possible great artistry. Thumbs don’t get the notoriety that fingers enjoy. Thumbs don’t even seek that attention.

Take any great violin player as an example. What’s the thumb of a violin player really do except support the amazing flair and virtuosity of the other fingers in their race up and down the fingerboard? The thumb hides quietly behind the stage upon which the other fingers dance and sing, never performing to the admiration of listeners or even asking to be noticed. Indeed, can we imagine Itzhak Perlman playing the violin with a hand full of thumbs? Hardly. But – and this is why I’m here to pay tribute to thumbs – neither can we imagine Perlman’s artistry without the thumb.

I’ve been in full-time ministry my entire life. A while back a friend and minister I have great respect for told me I needed to “start thinking about my legacy.” I secretly wondered if he thought that quiet and unapplauded work among addicts couldn’t be the stuff of which “legacies” are built. We talked about other ministry options. In the end, I wasn’t “entrepreneurial enough.”

170px-Tom_Thumb_1888I suppose there’s some truth to that. I am, after all, a thumb, and my friend is a finger, and that’s OK, except when fingers define the legacy of thumbs in terms of what fingers are and what fingers can do. Of course, fingers can’t do what they do without thumbs. And remember, a single good thumb can support the four fingers!

Thank God for the ministry of thumbs! Come on people, let’s lift our glasses. Here’s to all you thumbs out there!

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