by Byron Pellecer, Associate Conference Minister (Texas-Based)
While visiting and worshiping at a local Mennonite church in the Houston area, I was deeply moved by a young boy’s attitude and service, who I will call Carlitos.
At first glance, while he was clearing the tables and disposing any waste inside of big trash can, he seemed to be “just another kid” playing and trying to be nice and attentive. I was so wrong! He really meant to do it, and he was doing it with “passion” too. Did I mention that he is also part of the worship and dance team of his church?
His smile and attitude resembles that one kid who has everything that a kid can ask of in life time! However, this is not Carlitos’ reality. From a socio-economical view, his is poor and a victim of our broken immigration system, his parents were deported back to Mexico.
Nowadays, he lives in Houston without his parents and the only person caring and looking after him is his aunt. Well, the lady whom he calls “aunt” is not his real aunt, she is a friend of his parents. Now, they both attend and worship at a Hispanic Mennonite church in Houston.
Carlitos did not have even one piece of any electronic device on him, or any other toy for that matter. Yet, I saw him playing and running with other kids, just as any other kid.
But when we were ready to vacate the premises, the fellowship hall, after a very delicious meal, Carlitos began to clear the tables.
In the meantime, Carlitos’ service -ministry- reminded me of Mark 9:33-37. The way I see it, the highlighted theme that emerges from the text places discipleship, leadership and ministry anchored to servanthood. It also highlights how Jesus’ care for his own flock takes precedence. Here, it is also emphasized, a lesson on what it really means to be Christ’s community. In addition, it describes how the disciples were concerned about who is going to be the greatest among them. It seems that for them, the kingdom of God was only of an earthly nature!
In light of the text, I am challenged to ponder the following question: Who is the greatest -first- among us versus who is the servant among us?
Overtime, I have learned so many good, deep and meaningful lessons in and for life, but probably one that impacted my life the most is that assumptions are dangerous. Another one is this: one must be intentional and thoughtful, as much as one is able, in life. I guess doing and being church is not any different, it has been and it is, to be intentional. If the church loses its intentionality, then it loses its “north”, its mission, God’s mission, that is.
However, I think that church leaders are a key component when it comes to being the church, at least the kind of church that God intends, missional in every expression, that is. Consequently, the greatest leader is one who learns to serve and one who develops greater leaders than the leader himself. What I have in mind is servant leader life style. Maybe, this is why Carlitos’ attentiveness -ministry- impacted me so much. After all, discipleship, leadership and ministry-mission are not to be separated from servanthood.