The Ministry (5)
Pope Shenouda III | 17 January 2010
The Spiritual Minister, a good example & a blessing A whole life of ministry
Ministry is not words, but "spirit and life" (Jn 6), for a spiritual minister has the spirit which he turns into life in his disciples. They derive this life from him; they learn it from his life, and they imitate his character, so this life penetrates their souls, hearts, and minds.
The young people may not understand what the minister says, and if they understand they often forget. But they derive life from him; learn from his way of dealing and speaking, from his conduct, his looks, signals, and behavior. They pick all this up from him!
They may forget any teaching, but the way of life continues firm within them. If then all that you have is knowledge, they will take nothing from you except knowledge, without spirit or life! See then of what type is the life you lead which your children may absorb from you and which will leave a special impact on them.
I fear that some ministers have offences in their lives which may have a negative influence on their disciples, whereas the Scripture says: "Woe to that man by whom the offense comes!" (Mt 18: 7)
Such offences may be imitated by the others, causing them to lose their spirituality and ideals. God will request their blood from the minister. Sometimes the sins of the minister cause the others to criticize him and fall in the sin of judging the minister. In some cases the sins of the ministers lead the others to leave the church totally!
A minister is the salt of the earth, so, if the salt loses its flavor or is spoiled, what would happen? The Lord says: "It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men." How hard are these words!
You ought then to blame yourself and say: 'When I was away from the ministry, my sins and weaknesses were confined to me and their effect and consequence falling on me alone. But now my sins cause offences to the others, make them fall in sins, and destroy them. So, if not for my own sake, at least for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth, as the Lord says (Jn 17: 19).'
A minister should examine and correct himself so as not to be a stumbling block but rather a good example. A spiritual minister has a good impact on whoever meets him, and leaves a spiritual impression on them that continues for a long time.
He does not need to give a sermon or speak on a spiritual subject, but whoever sees his cheerful and calm features full of peace, his meekness and how he receives the others and deals with them in a nice way, will be influenced spiritually and will say within: 'blessed are the moments in which I met so and so! A wonderful spiritual person indeed! Would that I be like him in his cheerfulness and good conduct which rebukes me for my sins and reminds me that I often receive the others without care or cheerful welcome or friendliness! Would that I change and become like him friendly, cheerful and meek!'
In this way the mere meeting with him is capable of leading the others to repentance.
A spiritual minister is not a mere teacher, but all his life is ministry. Therefore saying that so and so is a teacher in Sunday Schools implies deficiency in two points:
a) Teaching means giving lessons, not a life with an impact.
b) The Sunday Schools means a limited ministry, whereas a minister should serve in every field and not be confined to a certain place, that is the church, or to a certain time, one hour a week!!
Since ministry is a sign of love, it should not be confined to a mere class in Sunday Schools!!
A loving person overflows love on the others. Whoever meets with him will have a portion of his love. He is like his Master, desires all be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim 2: 4).
A minister's special ministry may be the Sunday Schools, but this does not prevent other general services. Whoever comes into his way, or meets with him will certainly be subject to his spiritual influence, not as a mere teacher but as a spiritual life moving deeply and impacting the others automatically. When he speaks, God will be the focus of his talk in an interesting way.
The name of the Lord is sweet on his mouth; he likes to talk about Him in a way that may attract people to Him. The name of the Lord is on his mouth not only in the church but everywhere. He speaks about Him with deep love. He seizes every opportunity to tell stories about God's dealings full of love and wisdom. Even without speaking he offers to people a good example of life with God.
Some people think that Christian principles are ideals impossible to implement. But a spiritual minister presents these principles in practice. When people see him they become certain that life with God is possible and easy, and even successful. He is loved by everybody, for they long to lead a life like his, going about doing good: to one giving a word of benefit, to another love and cheerfulness, and to a third a good example.
Like the sun he shines wherever he goes.
The sun is illuminating by its nature, giving light, heat, and life to everybody. Spiritual ministers are the same to the others; they are the light of the world (Mt 5). Whoever sees them will be enlightened and will not walk in darkness. What about you? Are you light in your life and in your ministry? Is God glorified on the mouths of those who see you because of you? Does everyone gain a word of benefit when talking with you? Does everyone who meets with you give thanks to God for meeting with you that day and for the grace he acquired through you?
A spiritual minister is a blessing wherever he goes.
The Lord said to Abram the father of the fathers, on calling him, "I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing." (Gen 12: 2) Therefore a spiritual minister is required not only to be blessed by the Lord, but also to be a blessing.
Elijah was a blessing in the house of the widow of Zariphath of Sidon, and Joseph the Righteous was a blessing in all the land of Egypt; our father Noah was a blessing to the whole world by whom life was preserved and God did not destroy the earth and all that was on it. For Noah's sake human life continued and God smelt a sweet aroma. We became Noah's children as we had been Adam's children. Are you the same; a blessing wherever you go? Is your ministry a blessing to everybody you meet? Is your ministry blessed by God and fruitful, impacting everyone, and giving blessing to whoever your serve and they feel that you were a blessing in their lives and a gift from God to them?
A spiritual minister is considered by those whom he serves the man of God.
Elijah the Prophet was given that name, and was actually the man of God (1 Kgs). Do people see you in this image, as God's voice to their ears, sent to them, God's image before their eyes; your presence reminds them of God and His commandments and the holiness of life? Do they see in you the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5: 22, 23), and the impact of the Spirit on your words, and that you are a blessing for them?
Do not think that because you gave some lessons in the church you have become a minister, but try to understand what the word "minister" means, and what the characteristics of a minister are.
Let us stop here and continue our reflections in the coming weeks, God willing.