Training Your Lifeguards

Several years ago, I went to a public swimming pool with my neighbors. As I sat beside the pool, I pondered how the pool is much like our life! People young and old lined up outside the gate to gain access to the laughter and joy inside the gates. Some of the younger ones were given life jackets while the older individuals were left at their own discretion to take a dive. A list of rules hung on the fence, warning the participants to not run but walk, to refrain from diving in the shallow end, to avoid jumping on top of people, and emphasizing the necessity for young children to be supervised by an adult. All these warnings seemed logical, yet I noticed few actually carried them out.

As the pool got more crowded, I began to watch the behavior of the lifeguards. There were four in total. While they were responsible for the swimmers’ safety and even their own lives, I couldn’t help but notice that only one was paying attention. While the one took their role responsibly the other three were occupied with other items that I’m sure they deemed important.

They all donned red swimming suits with white crosses inferring that they have been given authority to save lives. Yet, one young man was preoccupied with a girl sitting by the pool! One young lady had a mirror, ensuring that her hair was in order, while the other was glued to what was on her cell phone. I couldn’t help but think their training is only as good as their discipline. They have been called yet lack interest in carrying out their duty! About the time I considered the “what ifs,” my attention fell to the screaming at the far side of the pool. A young girl around five years old was clearly in trouble. Without prompting, an older man in his 70s jumped in to help, and it quickly became evident he was in trouble too. The responsible lifeguard who’d been waiting for an opportunity to save someone jumped in! His awareness and skill was now needed and he didn’t hesitate!

With several standing along the pool’s edge, this young man saved both the young girl and her grandfather! As I rushed from the far side to lend a hand, I couldn’t help but notice the other three lifeguards still in their chairs. Not until the pool manager came from his office did they promptly leave the comforts of their post to lend a hand! As I watched and pondered what had just occurred, I couldn’t help but think of a verse where we are given a role!

Jude 1:22-23 – Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

We were ALL destined to drown! Yet, God saved us! But the journey didn’t end there! Like this pool, God is daily putting people in front of us, people who are passing through our gates. Men and women, young and old, they all fall under our care and must learn to swim. And if they can’t, it’s our duty to jump in! To be the responsible lifeguard—the only one to take it seriously—and do our job. “Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” Hebrews 9:27-28

Not only did that lifeguard keep his focus on what’s important, but he was also willing to risk his own life to save another! God puts people in front of us daily, all of whom are in need of our help! “Then Jesus said to his disciples,“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” Matthew 9:37.  Yet, where is your priority? Which lifeguard are you? Are you aware? Trained? Ready? Or are you one of the three occupied with looks, women and entertainment? Does the fact that we have been saved compel us to want to see others saved? Or have we settled into a place of comfort and complacency?

The lifeguard who was trained and ready was rewarded for his bravery, while the others were just onlookers! God is clear in 2 Corinthians 5:10, we will be rewarded for what acts we do here on earth. When someone is drowning, do you throw them a stone or do you jump in! “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone… So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” Matthew 7:9,11

Which lifeguard are we? Who will you meet in need of a life jacket? That Saturday, that young lifeguard saved a little girl and grandpa! You may not be a good swimmer, but many are being led to your pool and if you can’t swim, ask them to breakfast!

We can all be excellent lifeguards if we choose!

Stephen L. Thomas