The Sixth Man

I love it when my readers not only offer feedback on ThePreachersWord but share insights and offer additional thoughts on our posts.

Yesterday one of my facebook friends and former college classmate Jean Gerrard White responded to the post 5 Men in the Parable of the Good Samaritan saying, I never thought about adding the thieves into the considerations.” Then she shared this wonderful thought.

“But as I pondered the account, there is a 6th man, the innkeeper. He was willing to take over the care of the man when the Samaritan had to leave. Perhaps he knew the character of the Samaritan, but he was trusting that the Samaritan would come back as promised. He carried on with the care….sometimes we cannot do everything needed to fully help someone by ourselves. We need to be willing to step up with whatever gifts we have to be a part of the solution. No pride, just do our part.”

Jean’s observation about the sixth man, made me think of the basketball teams I’m watching during the men’s NCAA tournament. The sixth man has an important role on any team. The starting 5 can’t play the whole game. They need a break. Sometimes there’s an illness or injury. Maybe they get into foul trouble. Have an off game. Or is not as good a matchup as the sixth man in a particular game.

While most teams typically play 7-9 players in a game, there is often that one “go to guy” who is the first player off the bench. The sixth man. Some teams give special recognition to the sixth man. The NBA gives an award to the best sixth man in the league. The sixth man on one NCAA team was the leading scorer for the year, although he never started a single game.

But back to the sixth man in Jesus’ parable. “The innkeeper deserves recognition,” wrote another reader David Clark. “He took an injured man in and took over his care not knowing whether a stranger’s promise to repay him would be upheld nor how long the recovery would be. The fact is the innkeeper was in for the long haul.”

Then David made this pertinent observation. “How often are our acts of generosity of short duration? A few dollars handout and forget about why it was needed as if the problem were permanently solved and out of our sight.”

It occurs to me that it takes humility to be the sixth man. One must forgo the honor of having their name called with the starting five and running onto the court giving high fives. It requires an honest understanding of your place and contribution to the team.

The same is true in the Lord’s church. Not everyone can be a pulpit preacher, public teacher, or a pastor. Many Christians serve in roles behind the scenes. Sixth men and women, if you will.

The Bible teaches that all the members of the Body have a function, but not the same function. So, we should understand our special role and responsibility. We’re warned–“not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment” (Rom. 12:3).

Don’t think you’re better than you are. Know yourself. Understand your skills and abilities. Accept your personal responsibility.

The passage continues by illustrating various gifts that each may possess including leadership and teaching. But among them are gifts of service, encouragement and mercy. They are also important. But not always seen or applauded by others. Sometimes, like the Innkeeper, we help someone else who began a good work. It wasn’t our idea. Or our project. But we do what we can when we can.

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Gal. 6:10).  We all have different opportunities. And can “do good” according to our ability and personal resources.

My good friends Wilson and Julie Adams adopted 3 teenage siblings from Bulgaria. Wilson often says, “Not everyone can adopt or should.” But then adds, “But everyone can foster a culture of adoption by reaching out to the least of these.”

In reading the Adams’ story, there were a lot of “sixth men” that helped them. Sacred Selections. Counselors. Advisors. Social workers. Translators. Contributors. Family. And prayer-warriors. It occurs to me that this principle is true in many areas of the Lord’s work and seeking opportunities to do good.

Not everyone can or should be a Shepherd, but you can submit to them and pray for them. Not everyone can or should engage in foreign evangelism, but you can support those who do. Not everyone can or should be a public teacher, but you can encourage them. Not everyone can or should work in prison ministry, but you can contribute to those who do.

Not everyone’s ministry is as visible as “The Good Samaritan.” You may be like the Innkeeper. Somewhat in the background. Not recognized or written about. But ready to serve and willing to help.

God bless the sixth men (and women) who make a difference.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman


Filed under Christian Living, Service

2 responses to “The Sixth Man

  1. Philip North

    Excellent reply by both Jean and you. I would venture to say that she is the same Jean whose father preached at my home congregation in St. Louis. He was John Gerrard, and his daughter and I were in class together. The mother was Edith, who was also a Bible class teacher.


  2. This post is a home run. The Innkeeper and his Wife trusted the Samaritan. The Innkeeper and his Wife took Mary and Joseph in too. They found it in their heart to find room–even though it was in a Barn–or so the story goes. Giving room to a new Barn Father when the Inn is thriving is one thing. Sometimes when the Inn of our heart is full of bad times and poverty, there is no room. We’re not in good shape. We’re the one in need. As the story of Mary and Joseph goes…Once Mary gave birth to the idea of God being Emmanuel…God being with us…conditions became unsafe. The Innkeeper had to turn them out–for their own safety and his and his wife’s. Mary and Joseph went to Egypt–of all places, so the story goes. Centuries of Biblical Teaching make King Herod to be the Big Bad Guy. This Guy wants to kill all the newborn boys incase one of these boys may be this God to whom Mary gave birth. Is King Herod such a Bad Guy? If God is truly Emmanuel…God with us, then ought nought we give King Herod some credit? No one male can be God. God created the Human Family and gave the Human Family the responsibility to dwell on earth in harmony with all Creation. As time went on…God created helpers to help the Human Family.

    These helpers…like Good Samaritans and Muchalinda’s [snake-like] creatures brought new ideas into the world. And then things got messed up and people forgot they were formed from the Dust. They forgot how to Sing utilizing the breath. Psalm 90:3 got bent out of shape. They forgot the Human Family was created out of the dust in God’s image and eternal likeness, male and female.

    Whereas a long time ago, when the Psalmist sang about God’s everlasting LOVE…singing Before the mountains were born, or You brought forth the earth and world, from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. You return man to dust and say, “Return, O sons of mortals.” For in Your sight a thousand years are but a day that passes, or a watch of the night.…

    God’s Love is Everlasting! Those who wait like the Innkeeper and his beloved wife for the Samaritan’s Return–need not worry. And to the families whose babies returned to the dust, Paul reminds the Thessalonians not to grieve. When Jesus returns, all those who died believing in God’s Everlasting love will return (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14).


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