The Ministry – Not What I Expected

Today’s Passages – Matthew 19 – 21; Proverbs 12

(Second Milers also read – Psalms 56 – 60; Memorize – Acts 1:8)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 3:1

“But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” – (Matthew 20:26-28)

If you were to ask me 22 years ago, at the time of my salvation, what the ministry entailed, I would have told you that it involved preaching from the pulpit, and perhaps visiting some sick folks in the hospitals. Oh, and I guess that even back then I knew that the minister had to do a few weddings and funerals along the way. Boy, was I wrong. I wish somebody would have showed me passages like this in the Bible so I could have better understood what to expect. It seems that the sons of Zebedee also misunderstood what the ministry was all about. The ministry is all about being a servant. In fact, the word “minister” here in our text comes from the same Greek word that is also translated into the English word “deacon” in other passages. The word “servant” here literally means to be a slave. It is funny that we often picture the minister to be someone who is lifted up; someone who is praised, and even served by others; but we do not commonly view the minister as a servant. My eyes were certainly opened to what ministry was really all about; and it is all about serving people.

I remember when I was in Bible College, I worked a bus route picking up boys and girls for church from the city of Texarkana, Texas.  We had a young man on that route that was profoundly handicapped, and one time he had gotten sick at the church and made a mess all over (and inside of) his clothes. We had to clean him up, and then go to the “clothes closet” and get a whole new outfit for him, and help him get dressed. It was a very humbling experience. That situation taught me a very great lesson, perhaps greater than any lesson that I learned in the classroom. I learned that day that true minister of God will be willing to do whatever needs to be done in order to serve the people that God has given him. God used that experience, and others like it, to train me for the ministry that I serve in today. I have had to do every type of menial task imaginable since I have been a pastor, but these things have never bothered me. In fact, I have gotten to the place where I rather enjoy serving behind the scenes, doing things that others might not want to do.

There is an interesting account from the life of Missionary Hudson Taylor that illustrates this point very well. The following was taken from Paul Chappell’s book, Guided by Grace.

An account of missionary statesman Hudson Taylor, pioneer missionary to inland China, mentions two young missionaries newly arrived on the field. To their dismay, there was a backup of the sewer line on the mission compound where they lived, and the problem was becoming serious. The two younger missionaries stood over the pit, looking at the refuse and arguing with one another. The first man pointed to his credentials to excuse him from the dirty task, while the other tried to pull rank, citing that he was older. Their contention grew as they armed themselves with increased reasons why they should not descend into the pit of sewage to remedy the problem, which was becoming worse with each passing moment.

In their preoccupation with themselves and their rights, they didn’t notice when Hudson Taylor himself climbed into the pit of sewage and removed the matter that had created the problem. He then climbed out and went back to work. This account illustrates well that immature leaders will rationalize to excuse themselves from hard ministry, while mature leaders see the need and then take the lead.

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