The Cincinnati Reds have something that isn't all that normal. They have Barry Larkin. Barry has been with the Reds organization since he was drafted into Major League Baseball more than twenty years ago. That is what is not normal. Most professional athletes playing a team sport have not stayed with their original team throughout their entire professional history.

Barry Larkin has been loyal to a fault. He was born and raised in Cincinnati and had the Reds on his mind from day one. Playing for the Reds was his childhood dream. Now, all those years later, he is not only still a member of the Reds, but is also their captain. Being the team captain is a high honor. It denotes leadership among peers and respect in the clubhouse. Barry Larkin has both.

In all his years of playing shortstop for the Reds he has played both for and with a number of different people. The positions around him have changed dramatically, as has the team's manager, while he has remained the constant force, the steady influence. He has been through the euphoria of World Series Championships and the disgust of last place finishes. Some years he has performed better than others, but that is the nature of the game.

Oddly, longevity in ministries is about as rare as longevity in baseball. Very few ministers are with one congregation for any length of time. The figures vary depending upon who has done the surveying, but the average ministry lasts somewhere around eighteen months. My longest ministry was from August, 1985 through December, 1990. I am hoping that God will bless me with a long ministry in my current situation. Long ministries were not the norm in the Bible.

The apostle Paul never spent more than three years in any ministry situation. He did start a number of churches. The classic example is that of an itinerent preacher. His sermons and his ministry angered the religious leaders so much that they plotted to have him executed for blasphemy. Funny thing. That was the point to His ministry. "Then they crucified Him." Matthew 27:35 Not all ministers are preachers. Every Christian should have a ministry and that ministry should have a point, a direction, under the will of God. What's yours?