Vincentians are like punters says David Barringer, CEO of the Society of St. Vincent dePaul. In his weekly column Your Servant Leader October 22, 2015 he compares Vincentians to punters.
My son is a college football player. Well, sort of. He is on a college team but like many freshmen, he doesn’t play. And he is a punter.
For those of you who don’t follow football, the punter is the player that defines failure. He only enters the game when his team’s offense can’t score or even move the ball ten yards to have another chance to score. So to think about it, his own team never wants to see him on the field!
Punters don’t even practice with the rest of the team. While the other players all practice together to refine skills and work on intricate plays, the punter stands alone. He can’t use the same field, at least not at the same time, so he is found on the sideline or beyond, kicking the ball over and over again for distance and hang time (the amount of time the punted ball stays in the air). That’s right; a punter is measured by how long no one else touches the ball. Go figure.
But while the team barely tolerates its own punter, one group of people likes them. Moms love punters. That’s because their sons get to play football and they are rarely even touched, much less tackled or hurt unless they pull a muscle or catch a cold. If the other team touches your punter, they get a big penalty and the punting team usually gets the ball back. I don’t suggest that the punter’s own teammates might just let that tackler come through to block the punt and possibly hurt the punter, but I could see their motivation. Just sayin’.
When the punter does enter the game from his lonely spot on the game’s sidelines, the coach suddenly yells his name and tells him to kick the ball to a specific spot on the field. As far away as possible. Between the other goal line and the 10 yard line. Away from where the return guy is standing. And do this in 2.5 seconds. While three angry opponents are trying to block the ball coming off his foot. The punter better be ready to play suddenly, in that short time when everyone else is going to watch him. Everyone can and will measure his success. Then he exits the field as quickly as he entered, to again wait his next time to play.
Vincentians have a lot in common with punters. We ready ourselves in preparation to serve alone and in small groups. We serve quietly compared to many others in serving the poor. We rarely get the headlines and we don’t mind this at all. We are sometimes called upon suddenly to serve. The person we serve has great expectations for our success in helping them. We enter the “game” when others have failed – to find resources, or to meet the monthly rent or the utility bill. And like Vincentians, many a punter prays before he takes the field!
Just like punters, we are loved as well by our blessed Mother. She doesn’t want us to get hurt either, and she wants us to have the joy of serving. She wants us to be in the game of life, helping others who need it and then leaving them again to be successful on their own. Our win is when our entire team wins.
We all have different positions on God’s team of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul. We all have specific roles, but we succeed only when we all work together.
Thanks for being on our team! Yours in Christ, Dave