Every Lutheran school I have been around has a Bob. Maybe his name isn’t Bob. It could be Roger; John; Randy; Don. It could be Sandi; Phyllis; Sue; Anita.
But I’ll stick with Bob for now.
You know the Bob: He or she is the person who volunteers at school without complaint. In fact, Bob doesn’t just volunteer, he is just… there. Bob is probably the closest human representation of omnipresence because he is always at school. Bob doesn’t have to be asked; he just finds the need and takes care of it.
Our Lutheran schools rely on Bob. Simply put, we cannot exist without Bob. All of those “little” details are not little and Bob makes sure they get done. Our schools are often understaffed and workers–paid and Bobs alike–are asked to do a lot… maybe even too much at times.
So, we need to take care of our Bobs.
Recently, one of our Bobs went to be at home with the Lord. When I went back for the funeral, I had to smile because there were four principals at the funeral–all of us had been greatly impacted by Bob in our time at the school. Bob lived the old adage of “give your time, talent, and treasure.”
Bob’s time was spent at school. He checked up on the property. He took care of the mowing. He took care of all the minor repairs. Bob would be there for all events. He was at lunch every day, taking the trash out afterward. He would check up on the building after storms. There was no detail that was too big or too small for Bob. But his time was not just devoted to the building. Bob devoted his time to people as well. One year I took our small 8th grade class out for lunch at the end of the year. Bob thought that was a great idea and so the next two years, he came along and paid the bill. Bob would talk to every student as they came through the lunch line. He knew us all; not just as a name, but as a person.
That was one of Bob’s talents. Bob had a way of engaging people. I am sure that there were times that he would be upset, but I honestly cannot recall any moments in the time we worked together. If he was ever upset, I’m sure it had something to do with the students. His talent of forming relationships meant that all of the students, staff, and parents were important to him. Every single one. He wanted the best for everyone. And so he used other talents. Bob enjoyed mowing, and so he would do it for the school. Bob was a problem-solver, so he would troubleshoot issues that came up and would find ways to fix problems or help find the right person to get things fixed.
And that leads to the last category: treasure. Bob actually donated property that is the site of the school. He gave to his congregation and to the school because Bob understood that ultimately, all that he “had” was actually from God and that Bob himself was the caretaker. He gave joyfully because he cared greatly for the church and school, because he was involved and knew the needs, and because it honestly gave him great joy.
So… what about Bob?
When I left the funeral, I thought, “Who are going to be the people that replace Bob?” I started thinking about the Bobs I have known and how they are all getting older–either near retirement or in some cases well beyond. Who will take the place of our Bobs?
And then I had my answer.
A few days after this funeral, my current school held a back to school event. It was a lot of fun and took a lot to put together. I saw parent volunteers who gave up their weekend to make this happen. I saw congregation members and board members manning grills and ticket counters. I realized, “These are the next generation of Bob.” Now, don’t get me wrong… we cannot take our Bobs for granted. Instead, I mean that the Lord will provide.
Shortly after the event, I heard about an even younger Bob. One of our young custodians stayed long afterward. When some of the parents told this person to go home because they (the parents) would take care of things, our young custodian refused, recognizing that this was a way to give back to the school. After I heard that story, I thought back to some other young Bobs I have run across in my career: AJ, Allen, Jesse, Jeff…
What about Bob?
1–We are blessed by Bob. Never take Bob for granted and be grateful for each Bob you know.
2–With all the uncertainty; with all the concern over younger generations, I realize that the Lord provides. It will be okay. He will raise up new Bobs, and I pray that He will use me to help those new Bobs.
I miss Bob. I am sure that everyone at that school misses him dearly. But what a great thing it will be to have a Bob Reunion in heaven someday.