But words come in particular cultures and contexts. In Jesus’ time the word ‘slave’ was demeaning and potentially violent – even life-threatening. In our time ‘servant’ means someone obsequious out of Downton Abbey.
So we need to be clear and helpful. Just because I’m your servant doesn’t make you my manager. Busy pastors often feel there’s not enough week between Sundays, but lots of folk in our churches think that Sundays is all we’re concerned about. During the week they think we do nothing but improve our golf handicap. And since they’re busy people in busy jobs, and they can see lots of stuff that needs doing, they assume that we’re people to get to do it.
We have to push back. If there is a ministry need, it is our job to identify it and then identify the right person to do it. It might be us, but more likely our role is to equip somebody else. Including the person who noticed it.
Once you let one person allocate ministry tasks for you, then everybody will think they can do it. And you have exactly the same number of managers as you have people in the church. So practice saying, “Just because I’m your servant, doesn’t make you my manager.”
What do you think? Has this thinking twisted the relationships in your church?