Tuesday, March 9, 2010

More on the Minister as Waiter

As I spent some more time meditating on what it means to minister the Word of God, I considered some more of the parallels between the minister and the waiter.

When you go to a restaurant, you don’t want the waiter to bring you food he made at home and brought to work in his pocket, you want what the gourmet chef prepared – what you ordered. Similarly, a Biblical minister of the Word will not bring you the fruit of his special recipes, concoctions, and culinary experiments. He is not to present to the people of God his own opinions, ideas, or interpretations. He is to proclaim the Word of God. Scripture interpreted by Scripture and applied with Scripture. As Al Martin has said, "Give me Scripture, sixteen ounces to the pound!"

And you don’t want a lazy and negligent waiter, who delays to bring you what you ask, whom you’ve got to importune to get a refill of your water. You want a waiter who is prompt and attentive to your needs. Accordingly, a Biblical minister is diligent in his labor over the souls the Chief Shepherd has entrusted into his care. He makes time for his people. He is attentive to the state of their souls and cares for their needs. He is available and comes when is called. And, like an especially good waiter who sees your water running low and refills it without you asking, an especially tender shepherd will minister in a preventive way if at all possible. The sheep will not only see him when there is a problem.

Neither do you want an impure waiter, one who goes in the back and handles all kinds of gross and unsanitary things and then touches your food without cleansing himself. In the same way, a Biblical minister must flee immorality. He must be diligent to keep clean hands and a pure heart before God, for only then can he ascend to His holy mountain. The Biblical minister keeps short accounts with his God, often confessing sin and ever clinging to the shed blood of Christ as his only plea for forgiveness and only hope to stand before the Throne of God. He also does not dabble in the corrosive decay of false doctrine, but seeks to guard the treasure of the pure, unadulterated Gospel entrusted to him.

You don’t want a harsh waiter who gives you a hard time all the time, but one who is understanding and who seeks to meet your needs. Similarly, a Biblical minister is not heavy-handed, but tenderly cares for his sheep. He is aware that he too is beset with weakness, and so can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided (Heb 5:2).

Nor do you want an overbearing waiter who is always hanging around your table and bugging you about how everything is going, or who takes the food and shoves it down your throat; you want someone who prepares you to eat, but lets you yourself actually do the eating.
Similarly, a Biblical minister does not ram doctrines down the throats of his people, but leads them and teaches them to understand and interpret Scripture for themselves. Among his greatest desires is for the faith of the people of God to rest on God's Word and not at all on him. He never creates an atmosphere of, "Well, just take my word for it," but always strives to make clear God's Word on the subject and exhorts the people to take His Word for it.

And there are more connections, I'm sure. (Feel free to share some, if you can think of any.)

Again, I pray for grace to be such a waiter. May God get what He is worthy of in His people.

But the one who is the greatest among you
must become like the youngest,
and the leader like the servant.
For who is greater,
the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves?
Is it not the one who reclines at the table?
But I am among you as the one who serves.
- Luke 22:26-27 -

To Him be the glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus
to all generations
forever and ever.
- Ephesians 3:21 -

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