This week’s Gospel reading in which the disciples vie for the best seat at the table with Jesus is really appropriate given that, at a recent gathering of some clergy colleagues, part of the discussion revolved around the question “How do we measure the success of our ministry?” Surely this is also a part of what is at the heart of the disciple’s question.
One person noted that in a particular parish (I’m not sure it was Anglican) even being confirmed or admitted as a member of the congregation depended on proving your faith/worth by bringing at least one other person to faith! While it is my belief that at the heart of parish life there is a deep desire to share our faith and draw others into the Christian fold I am not convinced that we always see the fruit of our labors, so … is success (of individuals or a parish) measured by the number of members of the congregation, the amount of money raised and/or given to charity, the size of the church building or the number of members on the paid staff?
The human reality is that we all want to succeed at whatever we set out to do and we also want to receive a “pat on the back” or recognition for a job well done. And honestly, if Jesus physically came and stood within the midst of one of our congregations, wouldn’t we all want to get close? Or sit at His right and left hand, at a shared meal, in order to ask the questions that continue to burn within us?
On Wednesday evening we spoke about our heroes, those of the nation, our individual heroes and heroes of the faith. It’s interesting to note that few of the heroes we named were famous but, for the most part, they were “unsung” heroes who are unrecognized in their lifetimes and who may never have known the impact they had on those around them. All these heroes had something in common … compassionate care and service.
In Mark 10 Jesus said 43whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’
Success is in the eyes of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ who, in life received few accolades and only fragile support. The crowds and his closest friends melted away in the face of opposition … Can we drink from the same cup?
Love and Blessings