October, 2021

Good morning,

Many years ago, a prominent church board voted to adorn their local house of worship with statues of famous biblical characters. Their motives were simple: 1) to artistically showcase the history of their faith, and 2) to make a visible statement that theirs was The Church in town.

And so, one by one, magnificent carvings of scriptural figures—Joshua, John the Evangelist, Isaiah—came to life via the artistry of accomplished sculptors.

One night, at an all-church meeting, the board announced plans for a new addition—a marble sculpture of David. The obvious questions came quickly. "You'll need a big chunk of marble for this project, where you gonna get it?" And, "You'll also need a good sculptor. Anyone know an inexpensive one?"

The marble was easy enough to find. A massive stone of Carrara marble, dubbed the Giant—17 feet tall, 6 ½ feet wide—was quarried in nearby northern Tuscany.

A local artist named Agostino won the sculpturing contract. However, for reasons unknown, after carving a few non-descript lines, Agostino abruptly walked off the job and never returned.

Ten years passed before another sculptor was hired—Antonio Rossellino. However, the church board fired him shortly thereafter.

For the next 26 years, this enormous marble slab sat outside the church workshop. It was too big to hide, and too expensive to ignore. It served as a constant reminder of wasteful spending by The Church of Florence, Italy.

Finally, in 1500, the church forced the board to deal with their marble blunder. That led to another round of interviews for a potential sculptor.

Ultimately, the board chose a 26-year-old up-and-coming talent named Michelangelo. Up to that point, this gifted but unemployed artist had bounced around from job to job. His resume was short, yet promising. But most of all, he was available and willing to work for modest pay.

According to history, the employment agreement looked like this:

  • Work to begin on September 1, 1501.
  • Work to be completed in two years.
  • The church will provide men and scaffolding, and other materials as needed.
  • Compensation will be six gold florins per month (approximately $3,000 in today's currency).
  • Upon completion of the project, the church board will determine if the sculpture is acceptable, and if the artist deserves a financial bonus.

With the contract signed, the young artist rolled up his sleeves and put his talent on display. He loved his craft, and it resulted in one of the great masterpieces of all time.

If you'll look closely, you'll see a unique parallel between Michelangelo's assignment and that of a pastor.

The situation. Michelangelo had plenty of onlookers and naysayers giving him free advice. Even Leonardo di Vinci stopped by to see if the rookie sculptor was up to the task. In the same manner, many of us accepted our role without sterling credentials or impressive backgrounds—and we've had our share of doubters, too. But we also had a heart for God, a passion for the scriptures, and a love of God's people.

The task. As the church board escorted Michelangelo to the 9-ton block of marble, they asked, "Can you do something with it?" The young craftsman surveyed the challenge, made some notes and began to chisel life into the cold hard slab. Likewise, God escorted us to our job sites and asked us to do something with it too—to unveil the often-hid beauty of the Savior, and to explain the reasons for which He came. In doing so, we get to watch a congregation come to life.

The finish. Upon completion of this marble masterpiece, Michelangelo was given an impressive reward—an invitation to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. However, upon completing our assignment, we'll receive an even greater reward—an invitation to see the wonderful face of our Savior, and to hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant … enter into the joy of the Lord."


Ron Walters
Ron Walters
Salem Media Group

© Copyright 2021 by Ron Walters

Ron Walters