Summary: Christians should also acknowledge the workers who work behind the scenes that support the main leaders to succeed.
BEST SUPPORTING SERVANTS
Who are the significant Christian leaders that you know in the New Testament? Why do you know them?
You know them because you remember their personal sacrifices and accomplishments. Oftentimes we only recognize the Christians who are in the front lines and failed to acknowledge the brethren behind the scenes that make these leaders succeed.
ILLUSTRATION Success and suffering are vitally and organically linked. If you succeed without suffering, it is because someone else has suffered before you; if you suffer without succeeding, it is that someone else may succeed after you. Edward Tudson
As a result, only few are interested to assume a supporting role in any Christian endeavor. And if ever they participated, they will not give their best because they don’t normally receive any credit for the success of the front line leaders.
This is true not only in the Christian circle but most especially in the secular world. For example:
a. Company – Chief Executive Officer
b. Department – Manager
c. Church - Pastor
My sermon says that we must recognize the fact that leading Christians became successful because of other Christians who are willing to assume supporting roles. This is also true in the secular world where executives and managers succeed because of their hardworking staff and assistants.
Therefore I would like to propose that we also honor and recognize people who serve in the supporting roles both in the Christian and non-Christian communities. Please open your bibles to Philippians 2:19-30. Read the text.
Our passage reveals that Paul recognized two individuals who made his ministry significant and meaningful. He honored Timothy and Epaphroditus. He said that we must honor men like them. What are the significant qualities of these men?
1. Genuine Interest in the Welfare of Others. (v. 20)
Paul said he has no one else like Timothy who takes genuine interest in the welfare of others. "No one else like him" is literally "no one of equal soul.” Among Paul’s associates, none is of equal soul with Timothy in terms of meeting the needs of others. He was sincerely interested in the welfare of the Philippians.
Paul cannot visit at once the church but he needs to know how they were doing. Therefore he chose Timothy who was willing to travel and find out the condition of the Philippian church. Timothy was not interested in “winning friends and influencing people”; he was genuinely interested in their physical and spiritual welfare.
Epaphroditus demonstrated equal concerns for Paul and the Philippians. For apostle Paul, he volunteered to deliver the financial gift send by the Philippian Church. For the Philippians, he was distressed because he was worried that he caused the church to worry about him. (v. 26) He got sick but he was still concern about the welfare of others.
In the same way, we honor those who serve in a support capacity because they do their work out of genuine interest in the welfare of others. Obviously, it is difficult to aim for popularity and public recognition since the person lacks the audience that will know what he has done.
We honor them because they gave priority on the work and welfare of others rather theirs. They did count the cost of serving others and paid for them.
2. Proven Faithfulness in the Work of Christ. (v. 22)
Paul commended Timothy because he has proved himself by serving with Paul in the work of the gospel. He rose from the ranks and demonstrated faithfulness in work of the gospel. He was not afraid to accept the humbling responsibility and maintain one’s faithfulness to it.
Some Christians are faithful depending on the role that they perform. If it is in the front line, they give their best but if it is behind the scenes, then tend to lax and negligent. Paul however emphasized that in the work of Christ, every role is significant and should be done faithfully. (See 1 Corinthians 3:5-9)
ILLUSTRATION My dear Senator, I am not called to be successful, but faithful.—Mother Teresa, to Senator Mark Hatfield who, while touring her work in Calcutta, asked, “How can you bear the load without being crushed by it?”
Epaphroditus demonstrated his faithfulness by his commitment to fulfill his mission even if it would mean risking his own life to make up for the help the Philippians could not give Paul personally. After his recovery, his thought was still for the Philippians’ welfare.
Oftentimes supporting roles are done without being notice by others but we must keep doing it anyway for God. (See 1 Corinthians 4:1-5)
3. Balance Involvement in the Body of Christ (v. 25)
Paul considered Epaphroditus as his brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier and a messenger. These different roles signified the involvement of Epaphroditus in the life of the church and apostle Paul. These roles signify fellowship, service, mission, and spirituality.