SUNDAY, JULY 10, 2011
MINISTERS ARE CALLED TO SERVE
Mk. 10v45: ‘For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many’
Jesus was teaching his disciples on the need in serving others. The gospel according to St. Mark 10v35-45, recorded that James and John the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus and requested that one sits at his right and the other at his left hand side. But Matthew a Jew in his own account in Matthew 20v20-28 rather reported that it was the mother of James and John that made that request.
Note: whether James and John made the request or their mother, the request was made in a bad taste. They had considered Jesus’ earthly ministry as a worldly one. They need to have their interest secured was uppermost in their minds. No wonder when the other disciples heard it, they were indignant and Jesus tried to settle this matter among them. You know rulers of this world Lord it over their people, but among you it will not be so. Whoever wants to be a leader must be a servant of all, for even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.
In Luke 22v27, Jesus says, who is more important, one who sits at table or the one who serves. But I am among you as one who serves.
Interestingly in John 13v4-5, Jesus did the work of a slave by washing the feet of his disciples. The Jews in their ceremonial cleansing had allotted a slave the work of giving water and cleansing the feet of visitors. It was such a lowly job Jesus performed to proof how important it was to be involved in service.
Ministers are called to follow in the footsteps of their master.
Unfortunately today, servant leaders called to lead and serve the flock of Christ have not lived up to expectations.
Sometimes I feel bad, when ministers talk down or harshly to their flock. There are some who beat their chest or on the table to intimidate or harass members. Also, some use abusive languages on the flock: ‘I am in-charge here; you can leave if you are tired with my administration;’ etc. The tendency of boasting about educational qualifications, family backgrounds and about business successes, is not ruled out. But are these necessary?
St. Paul said ‘forbid that I should boast…’ is it not God who chose the weakest things of this world to shame the wise. I Cor. 1v20, 27.
Truly, there are few servant leaders who live out service. They understand their vocation and try to imitate Jesus. To them everybody is somebody and should not be ignored. Ministry to such people is typified in service for they know ‘true greatness lies in service’.
Ministers of today need to think again and again on their calling. The ministry is about service to God and humanity.
Ministers therefore should be prayerful to avoid pride and arrogance in their daily discharge of duties. Pride has prevented many from serving God and humanity as they deserve. I Thess. 5v17 says, we should ‘pray continually’ or ‘pray without ceasing’ for prayer changes things. Pray to serve with grace and humility.
Also ministers need the Holy Spirit to guide and fashion them as God deserves. There is a reward usually attendant to those who do not loose their focus in the ministry. ‘Well done good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Father’.
Time has come for a review. Ministers called are to serve and not to Lord over it over their flock. Intimidation, harassment and abusive language is to be avoided. Jesus our perfect example served and gave his life in humility. The scripture encourages us to imitate him Phil. 2v5-11.
VEN. ERNEST ONUOHA
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Retreat Centre,