Every church needs an EGR family. A family where extra grace is required. When I was a young unpaid pastor, I had one in my church. Gene and Rita were odd; they were kind and gentle, but awkward. They had custody of their grandchild who were young terrors in the church, constantly in trouble, bullying other children, breaking things and carefree of the ramifications of their actions. Gene wore bid overalls, was quiet and never spoke unless spoken to. Even then, he seldom responded with more than a few words. Rita was kind but sharp tongued when it came to family and her opinions of people. Neither one made friends easily and were often shunned in the church. Despite all of their challenges they were at church every Sunday.
One Sunday after preaching on faithfulness and serving others in the name of Christ, Gene stopped to talk to me and stepped out of his norm. He asked “I can’t find anyone who will roof my garage. I wonder if you know someone who could do it.” I gave a general response, “I will ask around.” I admit, I really wasn’t concerned about looking for someone to help him, but, during the next few weeks the Holy Spirit began to work on my heart. I knew I was being asked to roof the garage myself. Each week Gene would ask, and each week I would give the same response. I didn’t want to get involved. I didn’t want to take vacation, and didn’t want to roof Gene’s garage. Over a period of a month God won. I offered to roof Gene’s garage.
Honestly God met me in a way I could never have expected. The day I showed up – and almost every day I was there – their dog bit me. It was never a consideration to them to lock him up. The first day they offered to feed me lunch and I walked into a house covered in filth. I washed my hands in a disgusting bathroom and ate lunch on a dirty plate. That night I complained to God and reminded Him on how holy I was being. The only response I heard was “clean the bathroom and wash the dishes.” The next day when invited in for lunch I cleaned the bathroom and washed the dishes. Each day Gene got a little more talkative. The final day he crawled up on the roof and shared his story. “Greg I wasn’t always slow and odd,” he stated. “I worked for the railroad, and one day a spike was struck and accidentally hit me in the head. I have been on disability ever since.” I sat quiet, with tears in my eyes. I knew this was the reason God asked me to roof the garage. Gene shared how he came to know Christ, how his family struggled and finally how much he appreciated me for accepting him for who he was. By the end of my visit I was crying. I asked his forgiveness for being judgmental in the past. We prayed together. That day God met me face to face through an awkward old man who loved Jesus but never had the opportunity to share his story. Both Gene and Rita have long since passed but the memories and influence of his friendship still reside in my heart
Walker in his book The Undefended Leader, states “Genuine spirituality of undefended, of generosity, which enjoys the resources we have but freely gives them away. It lays down our ‘territorial’ claims to the ownership of the land, our money, our rights or even our lives,” In America we exert great energy and time claiming and defending our rights as individuals. We seek influence to make our convictions known to others. Yet Jesus, when confronted by Pilate, didn’t respond in defense. He laid his rights aside to the point that he watched a murderer go free in his place. He raised no protest. I am often reminded that when serving Christ the only rights I have are those Jesus gives me. Those rights are those of a servant, not a king; of a priest, not a president. Walker shows us that the undefended life is one of creativity and fulfillment. It is also full of difficulty, opposition and being misunderstood. It requires us to relinquish control of our influence and our possessions. We are asked to hold our assets with open hands, to see life as something entrusted to us for the benefit of others. We are asked to yield our rights for the sake of others. These are challenging ambitions. In a world torn apart by self-centered leaders, maybe it’s time to relinquish control and become undefended.
 Simon Walker, The Undefended Leader, (Carlisle, UK: Piquant Edition Ltd., 2010), 446.
 Simon Walker, The Undefended Leader, 456.