Summary: To be effective in ministry, let us not focus too much on self but rather be concern for the welfare of others.
To be effective in ministry, we need to learn one thing – don’t take yourself too seriously. Don’t be too bothered about how people see you or treat you. Get over yourself. Don’t get stuck inside your own ego, because over time it will become your prison.
It is amazing that while Jesus was talking about His impending death and sacrifice, the disciples are caught up in a debate over who is the greatest. That is not the mark of Christianity. Recent events probably aggravated the situation - 3 disciples had the privilege of a mountaintop experience. And while they had a great time, the other 9 disciples had a shameful time. They failed to help a demon-possessed boy.
With unique experiences like that, it’s easy to feel on top of the world. No one has the same experience. Perhaps that causes some to be envious. And perhaps the 3 who had the special experience felt so spiritual about it that they looked down on the 9 who had failed.
When we focus on ourselves, there will be arguments and debates. This episode started with the disciples arguing with one another – and Jesus ends His teaching with “Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” (Mark 9:50). Salt is being coined to describe our lives – we are to be a blessing to others, an influence in this world.
Don’t look at yourselves too much. Don’t focus your energy and attention on yourself. It will get you nowhere, just a meaningless ego-trip. Take a look:
The disciples started debating about their positions, their status. And then the next part we heard John telling Jesus, “We saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
Can you imagine, just a while ago the 9 disciples failed and now we have a new chap doing an effective ministry. “We asked him to stop because he was not one of us” – the disciples see themselves having certain privilege – only we can do it, we are Jesus’ true disciples.
We can see where their train of thought is leading them – they are beginning to see themselves as somebody special, they are beginning to think highly of themselves.
And we see how Jesus twisted the thought around…
Jesus brought in a child and said, be like him. And He made reference to the child all the way until verse 50. “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me.” (v.37)
• Matt 19:13 Then little children were brought to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.
• They see them as a disturbance, a nuisance. Little respect for children. This are adults talking, children go away.
Can you humble yourself and welcome a child? You are actually welcoming me!
And be happy that others are serving, and probably doing it better than you.
Don’t think that you’re the only ones who can do ministry. You are not the only privileged ones.
“…anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to Me will certainly not lose his reward.” (v.41)
Many people believe that touching the lives of others can be done only by some elite group of gifted people – with lots of talents, oratory skills, or strengths. But that is not the case. Any ordinary people can make a positive impact on the lives of others.