Hello, Sparklers! Welcome to our first official video! If you want to learn how to be successful in ministry, you’re in the right spot. This will be the first installment in a series of articles and videos on the topic of servant leadership, which tells as so much about how to be effective in ministry (and great in the kingdom of God). This is a topic that means a lot to me. I’ve been involved in ministry for over twenty years, and I come back to these ideas a lot when I get overwhelmed, discouraged, or even lose focus.
When we think of ministry, it’s easy to think of the most visible aspects – preaching, teaching, music, etc. It’s also easy to think that being successful in ministry – or being great in the kingdom of God – has to do with the audience we acquire, the status we obtain, the talents we accumulate, and so on.
Success: The Human View
In Mark chapter 10, Jesus talks with His disciples about two contrasting viewpoints regarding success in ministry. Jesus is approached by James and John, sons of Zebedee. They ask Him a question that some people (OK, it’s me; I’m people) might think is a bit impertinent: “When we all get to heaven, may we sit at your right and left side?” In other words…
“WILL YOU PLEASE GIVE US THE BEST SEATS IN THE KINGDOM — THE ONES WITH THE MOST POWER AND AUTHORITY?”
It’s easy to judge them for such a question, but in asking such a thing of Jesus, James and John merely illustrate the human view of success. For the world around us, success is all about getting ahead. It’s about positions and authority and external measures of greatness. Jesus referred to this mindset as He prepared them for a change of mindset (and “heartset.”):
“YOU KNOW THAT THOSE WHO ARE CONSIDERED RULERS OVER THE GENTILES LORD IT OVER THEM, AND THEIR GREAT ONES EXERCISE AUTHORITY OVER THEM.” (MARK 10:42)
Success: The Divine View
But then Jesus goes on to say, “Yet it shall not be so among you.” He sets them up for a massive change and presents a new paradigm for leadership (and greatness):
“BUT WHOEVER DESIRES TO BECOME GREAT AMONG YOU SHALL BE YOUR SERVANT.” (MARK 10:43)
J. Oswald Sanders, in Spiritual Leadership, writes of James and John, “They wanted the glory, but not the shame; the crown, but not the cross; to be masters, not servants.” They wanted a position in ministry.
It turns the world’s concept on its head. The least becomes the greatest. When we think of great positions of power and importance, a servant doesn’t usually come to mind.
This is one of the most radical aspects of Jesus’ ministry. He elevates servanthood and casts a vision of mutual service. Paul reflects this same them in Galatians:
“THROUGH LOVE SERVE ONE ANOTHER” (GALATIANS 5:13).
Until Next Time, Sparkle On!
So all that brings us back to that original definition: to understand what ministry is all about, we have to get to the heart of the word: “minister” comes from the Latin word that means “to serve.” This tells us so much. Ministry is, first and foremost, about service.
Thanks so much for stopping by today! We’ll be talking about some principles of servant leadership next time. But before then, be sure to come by on Monday for a super special interview with Vonda Guidry, missionary, international speaker, author, and one of my absolute favorite people! (She also happens to be my aunt, so there’s that.)
Until next time, sparkle on!