Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as
rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over
them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your
servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did
not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many"
A certain man was hired by another man to do odd jobs
around the home. He worked for him a number of times for a fair amount of pay. It came
about that the last time he worked for the man, that he told him after the job was
completed not to worry about paying him as he said, "This one's on me." The
astonished employer looked back to a woman who was with him. The woman seemed shocked as
well, and just stood still for a moment then uttered, "That's a switch," in an
almost disbelieving fashion. The employer thought for a moment then told the man to follow
him. He led him into the garage and to several large baskets of fresh peaches. The
employer looked to the other man and asked him to take one of the baskets of his choice.
But the peaches were not offered as payment--but instead, they were a token of
gratitude--a gift for the giver.
The power of sacrificial service and selfless giving is a
power that moves the heart, and baffles the mind. It is seldom that we consider that
someone would do anything without expecting something in return. And when we experience
such giving, we might often become suspicious or skeptical, wondering what strings are
attached to the gift, and what are the true intentions of the giver.
It would seem that our nation, society and even our churches are full of people who are
more accustomed to serving self, than serving others. True and sacrificial giving are so
foreign to us that when we see the genuine article, it astonishes us. I once knew of a
situation where a church wanted to hire someone to cook Wednesday night supper. They could
not understand it when a lady in the church stepped forward and offered to do it for
free--as a ministry. They insisted on paying her, yet she insisted more greatly because
she wanted it to be her service, not her job.
What does it mean to minister? The dictionary says that ministry is "the act of
service." When we consider serving one another in Christ, do we generally attach
strings, or paychecks? We might consider that true ministry is a gift, and "paid
ministry" as a contradiction of terms. For those who truly minister are focused on
meeting the needs of another--aren't they? They are not expecting anything in return--are
they? As a minister the person does a service requiring no compensation, his or her
ministry is a gift--a love offering, if you will. The response to the gift is
"peaches." That is to say that as the minister gives, it is also given unto him.
The service he does for others reciprocates a service to himself. Not that he desires to
be served, but that the "peaches" he receives from whom he serves is a product
of his ministry sown in love.
It is sad to say what has become of the word ministry today. There are "paid"
ministers who would not "minister" without the pay. There are many who are
called to serve who will not serve to meet the needs of a church who cannot guarantee they
will be able to meet his needs. There are churches and fellowships who will not lend a van
to another church, freely offer the use of their recreation center to a local Big Brothers
group, or perform simple wedding ceremonies without first defining the terms of payment
for "services" rendered.
With all the various examples of "ministry" and "service," perhaps it
would be good of Webster to redefine the words--it would seem that we certainly have.