Quite a mouthful you will agree with me. Beyond being a mouthful, it is a handful and a heartful.
Who is the Minister?
The Minister is the one who is under full public glare, the one who is constantly under public scrutiny, “That one wen pipo no go allow drink water, drop cup“. The one who is criticized even by those he serves; The Ministered.
What is this Ministry?
This ministry is a “call to service“. I don’t know how vain you are, but I know in the real sense of the word, you cannot serve yourself, you provide service to others. So, this Ministry is a call to serve others. Think about it this way and you may not be wrong:
- Getting into the Hall earlier and cleaning the seats of others ….. Ministry
- Hitting your leg on a stone and taking it out of the way to prevent others from having to endure the same Pain ……. Ministry
- Knowing something that could destroy the reputation of others and keeping it to yourself ….. Ministry
- Taking some extra drinks and food to a party you have been invited to (as a back up for the Hosts) should the Host run out of supplies ….. Ministry
- Visiting the sick, Clothing the naked, Visiting the imprisoned ….. Ministry
- Going the extra mile to cure the sick, provide clothes for the naked, providing shelter for the homeless, freeing the incarcerated, standing up for the truth even in the face of extreme and unforeseen Penalty…Ministry
- Consoling the bereaved (especially if you can, without words) … Ministry
- Counselling the Ignorant … Ministry
- Sharing your knowledge (especially of Positive content) ….. Ministry
- Turning off lights that are not been used, been the first to turn on the water pumping machine, heater, been the one to check if the door is closed at night, paying utility bills in a shared apartment ……………. Ministry
Look, I could go on and on about this Ministry but I believe with the examples I have given, you already have a perfect idea of what a Ministry is and how you function in the Ministry the Majesty has placed you.
The Ministered in this context are the served; those we render services to, those we serve. You know the good thing about all of this is; at each point in time; the roles are swapped. One day, you are the one being served, the next day, you are the one serving others. No rigidity at all.
CASE 1 Scenario
About ten years ago, I went to Church with my family, it was a Harvest day. My mother was the C.W.O. (Catholic Women Organization) President of our Parish at the time. Even though that was our Home Parish, we, her children were rarely around as most of us schooled far away from home but she loved having us around during the festivities. After the Harvest celebrations, they summoned the Youths to help with the clean up. Me? Youth? lol. By Youths, you mean members of the Catholic Youth Organization of Nigeria (C.Y.O.N.), I wasn’t a member even though I was a Youth, so I went to sit in my Mum’s car. Very bad behaviour this was but I had my reasons. While growing up, I had watched my Sisters been beaten for returning home so late from their various Youth activities and had made up my mind never to join the Youths to avoid a similar fate.
It was okay or so it seemed until some argument ensued between the women and the Youths. I cannot really remember what the issue was; if it was that the women had promised to compensate them in some way after the cleaning or if it was something else, I could not make out. Here; were the children of the President sitting in the car about to be chauffeured home, there, they were cleaning up garbage like they had no parents or cars of their own. Things got heated up, one of the Youths vituperated so much; that she went and threw back all the garbage she had picked. My mum called her to pacify her, it was to no avail. I watched aghast at what anger could make one do.
They were ministering, right? the women should have been nice to them, I should have gone down to join them and appreciate their efforts work? right? Wrong. In Ministry, things do not usually go as we imagine they would.
Ministry is a “call to service“; therefore, ‘the called’ embraces the call with wholesome submission, expecting nothing in return for the service he renders.
This right here is the difference between a Paid employment and a Ministry. Each time you get very angry while ministering or because of your Ministry, you take out the very essence of “ministering” which is a “call to Service”.Tweet
Case 2 Scenario
From the Gospel of John
The book of John presents evidence to back up the Human nature (manhood) of Christ; that while Jesus was fully God, he was also fully Man. He was One Person with two distinct natures.The book begins with; “In the beginning was the word…” establishing Christ’ Godly nature as well as his human nature, also showing forth his equality with God the Father, the Creator.
Okay, so in this text (John 2: 13-25) NIV version: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+2&version=NIV
13 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple courts he found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15 So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16 To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” 17 His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”[c]
18 The Jews then responded to him, “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?”
19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
20 They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?” 21 But the temple he had spoken of was his body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken.
23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.[d] 24 But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. 25 He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.
Ahnahn, what’s all these supposed to mean? What did the Bible tell us about Kindness? Forgiveness? Love? Anger? Ahnahn. How can someone that calls himself a “Man of God” behave so violently and rudely with people.
What exactly is wrong with this Jesus and who does he think he is? What if people forget to bring items of worship with them, should they not be able to easily purchase them? Is it not all for the greater good? Does he know for how long we have been selling these goods here?Tweet
All these items sold here are items for worship in the temple, so what’s the big deal, if there is any deal at all? How old is he? When did he begin to worship at this synagogue? Does he know the way we worship here? Has he even waited to blend in? to be introduced? Where did he even come from? Why does he want to bring in all those Nazarene thoughts to this synagogue? That tiny village in the rural part of town? Has he come to learn how we do things here? How can he argue with those of us that have been worshiping here and for so long? Seriously, Jesus, you lack manners! Come, Jesus, maybe you are a champion where you are coming from but this right here is the Jewish synagogue, you should wait and learn our ways here before you start reacting.
Now look through the comments and see which of these comments you have made (especially to someone who has newly joined the Ministry). Look through one more time and see which of these comments have been made about you in the course of the Ministry.
Personally, all these comments have been made about me in the course of my Ministry. How did I take them? I wept! I wept! I can’t even pretend about it, I wept like a little child that had just been thrashed for doing a good deed. You know that kind thing dey pain! E can pain. At the end of the day, I still took all to the foot of Jesus, the head of the Ministry and continued my work in ministering.
What was the issue here? What was it about Jesus’ action or inaction that infuriated them so much that they bluntly told him; “What sign can you show us to prove your authority to do all this?” Was it because Jesus was a newcomer? or because his Parents were relatively unknown? Was it because he was very young? Was it because he came from a Poor family? Was it because he was not famous? Or was it just because they had some bias? Was it because they had a picture in their mind of what the next “Man of God” should look like? were there preconditions unintentionally set? Were the Ministers supposed to fit into a particular sphere of people?
People were no longer coming to the temple for worship, they were coming for Personal gains, coming to form cliques and show off statuses. Is it happening in our time today? Has it somehow crept into the Ministry?
Let’s bring this to this modern age.
You have been eyeing a particular contract, you just learnt that the man awarding the contracts is an avid reader and a lover of good music, so, you join the Choir to catch the man’s attention. example 1
You bring your phone to Church and leave it on through Mass because you are expecting a call, your constant fidgeting is distracting and has distracted those sitting around you… example 2
What was Jesus’s Ministry? To heal, to cure, to acknowledge, to verify, to make happy, to affirm. Jesus was a happy-go-lucky man firmly rooted in the word and this word inspired all of his actions. As a Minister, Jesus could break all the norms without committing sin because He knew what needed to be done. Even today, he knows…
Do you know Jesus? Have you met him? Does he inspire your Ministry?
Case 3 Scenario
THE MINISTRY – MY MINISTRY
I have been active in the Liturgical ministry for over 17 years. In my Ministry, we are entrusted with proclaiming the word of God from Sacred Scriptures to an attentive congregation. http:///prayer-and-worship/the-mass/order-of-mass/liturgy-of-the-word/the-lector-at-mass.cfm
Although similar to broadcasting, it is quite different! Here, the Lector serves the congregation the word of God. Hence, he is expected to first be convinced of what he wants to Proclaim and then proclaim it with conviction. For this condition, a Lector must empty himself to become filled with the God he is about to proclaim to the people.
Initially, I struggled. I struggled with:
- dressing so simply (as a Lector, you are not permitted to be “seen”, for people to notice you, to come up and someone is thinking of upgrading his/her fashion sense)
- been picked on (after you read a Lection, people will comment and these comments could be mean)
- the H factor: It was difficult voicing and mastering the pronunciation of the ‘H’ sound
- rostering: the time you are scheduled to read is not fixed and may be outrightly inconvenient, like leaving your home at 5:30a.m. to read at a Morning Mass that will begin at 6a.m. as a Lector must be in the Sacristy fifteen minutes before the Mass or at 9p.m. for a Vigil Mass. As a Servant, one must bear all and patiently too.
- ability to adopt the mood of the reading that is; reflecting with my mood where the readings were taken from and what the Speaker is trying to say to the people for example; the way I will take a reading from Genesis is different from the way I will proclaim one of St. Paul’s letters.
- having to tolerate so many people of diverse interests and at the same time. I am a serious-minded, blunt person and usually only mingle with those who share thesame views. As a Lector, living as a family of God’s people is strongly recommended, so I had to learn how to cultivate communal living patterns.
As a teenager, one day I returned home from rehearsals, I was very upset. Mum asked; “why are you crying?” I proceeded to explain to Mum how our President had insulted me. My mum said; “and so? keep on crying now since he is too small to correct you. ” Another day, someone told me; “Keep in mind, stones are only thrown at a fruitful tree.” If people correct you so much, it is because they have seen something really special in you.
With these two comments in mind, I overcame my initial struggles. From there, I went on to join the Board of Lectors everywhere I found myself and ‘talk to Lectors’ every other place I visited.
In 2007, I became Commissioned as a Lector. According to what we were told, a commissioned Lector can read anywhere in the world. I never wanted to repeat Probation every time I joined a new Board, so, I signed up to be commissioned. I was commissioned along with others.
Last year, October, 2018, I was by myself, when I received a call from Rev. Fr. Vitalis Ezeigwe; the Secretary to the Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Lagos; His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Alfred Adewale Martins. He introduced himself and told me I had been selected to proclaim at the next Diaconate and Priestly Ordination that will take place on the 8th of November, 2018. The ordination is a very big event anywhere it is done in the world and to be contacted from the Office of the Archbishop was more than a great honour for me.
A month later, Fr. Vitalis called me again and asked me to come to the Catholic Church of the Ascension, International Airport road, Lagos, Nigeria on the 7th of November, 2018 for the rehearsals that will be done alongside the deacons to be ordained as Priests and the brother to be ordained as a Deacon.
Dreams do come true…
Young girl, your dream is valid. There, I also realized that one of the Deacons to be ordained was an Alumnus of my University and a friend back at school; while he was a Mass server, I was a Lector. It was a delightful meeting.
Today… Seventeen Years On…
Anytime I feel distraught, I get back home and scream in front of my mirror; “You don’t know the cost of the oil…. You don’t know the cost of my pain…… You don’t know the cost of the oil in my Alabaster box…” A song by Cece Winans.
Without the help of Jesus, I would have dropped out along the way.
What stage are you in your Ministry? When things go really awful, who do you turn to? Where do you draw strenght from?
The Minister, the Ministry or the Ministered?
For whoever you turn to determines the strenght of your Ministry?
How confident are you about the Ministry you have found yourself? Not all of us will be active Ministers, did you check the list at the beginning?