The solution to conflict is as simple as the root of the problem.
ames and John wanted to be ministered unto. They wanted the chief places in Christ's kingdom (Mark 10:35-37). When the others heard it, they were indignant. That was what they wanted.
"Jesus called them to Him" (Mark 10:42). Can you sense the tenderness and pathos in His voice?
Earthly rulers, He told them, exercise lordship over others: "But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.
"For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:42-45).
Jesus did not incidentally minister; He came to minister—it was His set purpose. The Son of Man "came not to be ministered unto."
This desire to be ministered to is at the bottom of disagreements in the nursery, fights at school, quarrels at home, even wars among nations. And unfortunately, this spirit also prevails in the church.
As Christians, we fail to realize how much sin and failure, vexation and discontent, discord and unhap-piness emerge from our desire to be ministered to.
We become cross and indignant. We exhibit our temper. Sometimes we may exercise restraint—but our anger remains. Why?
We want to be ministered to—by people, circumstances, fortune ("luck"), weather. . . . We've been brought up to expect it. And if we are thwarted, as we often are, we get sulky, moody, nervous. In the end, we make ourselves and others miserable.
Mr. Horsburgh wrote Do Not Say (® 1891 Fleming Revell).
Can you relate to any of the following situations?
• You feel ignored, brushed aside.
Your employer or employee doesn't
show you proper consideration. A
neighbor doesn't treat you with re
spect. You're left feeling upset.
Did the harsh feelings come because you were deprived of the privilege to minister? No; they came because your rights, talents, position, dignity and importance were not recognized. You came to be ministered to but received nothing.
• A friend is praised or does bet
ter than you. The honor, success,
money, popularity, reward have gone
to him; but you wanted it. Because he
has been ministered to and not you,
you are jealous.
• You've been kind to someone,
rendering him a service that cost you
something. Naturally, you thought
your goodness would be appreci
ated. But it wasn't, at least not as
much as you thought it should have
While you expected profuse thanks, your friend took it coolly. You are disgusted. You wish you hadn't helped him.
In your haste, you feel half inclined to say you'll never again do anybody a kindness. Why? You've ministered to someone, but you haven't been ministered to.
• You're a person of excellent
taste and sound judgment. But your
advice has been ignored—perhaps it
wasn't even asked for.
Because you're an authority in that area, you can't understand why you weren't consulted. Your spirit is ruffled.
Is the problem that your friend has now gotten himself into a sad mess? No, not at all. In fact, he has managed very nicely without your help.
The trouble is, you have not been acknowledged. Your reputation has not been ministered to.
• You spoke in church on a spe
cial occasion. A good audience
assembled, including a well-known
and influential Christian man. At the
close of the service, you felt ex
tremely pleased with yourself and
naturally expected your honored visi
tor to thank you "for such an interest
ing and moving message."
But he quietly walked out. How
disappointed you were. You had the opportunity to minister to many people. But in your heart, you wanted the message to minister to you.
• You are a professional, a suc
cessful businessman or woman. But
your success has fallen short of your
expectations. Daily it troubles you.
Your desire for self-gratification has been thwarted. Again, you were not ministered to.
• You competed in a race in high
school and were beaten. For weeks
you never smiled. You had wanted
the race to minister to yourself, for
people to point to you and say, "He
has done what nobody else has
To this day a bad feeling haunts you. When beaten, you cannot enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that you have been the means of ministering to the winner.
• You were engaged in Christian
work as a Sunday school teacher or
church officer. But now you feel led
to take a sabbatical.
What prompted your decision? Has your health failed? Are home duties more pressing? Has your opportunity to minister been withdrawn? No, none of these.
You're tired of it. You thought it would interest you, give you a position in the church. You thought you would like it, and you did—for a while. As long as it ministered to you, you were willing to continue.
• You are sharing an apartment
with a friend. Your mutual happiness
is interrupted by little jars. You are
quick, but your friend is slow. You
are economical, but your friend is
extravagant. You are punctual, but
your friend is tardy. You are tidy, but
your friend is sloppy.
You face constant tension. Why? Because your desire to have things your own way is not ministered to.
• Or perhaps you are a free-and-
easy person. You become annoyed
because your happy-go-lucky way is
not ministered to.
It's amazing what little things we let disturb us. It's raining. A visitor drops by just as you're about to leave. The answer to your letter still hasn't come. Your request is denied.
You're interrupted in the middle of an interesting book. A pen won't write. Your dress doesn't fit. The fire
won't burn. Dinner is late. The children are noisy.
If our happiness depends on our being ministered to, we'll soon be fretting and fuming.
But ministering to another yields an entirely different result. "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). In other words, we are happier to minister than to be ministered to. Furthermore, it is far more noble: "Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant" (Matt. 20:27).
A word of caution, however. The Lord Jesus does not encourage us to be like Stoics, denying our feelings. We will always experience annoyances and disappointments. But they need not upset us.
Christ has already set the pace for us. He was so busy thinking of others that He had no time to think of Himself,
If our happiness depends on our being ministered to, we'll soon be
But He is not saying we are never to be ministered to, always to be slighted, never to meet with success or reward.
No harm comes from being ministered to. The Lord Himself was often ministered to, and He expressed His appreciation.
The danger comes in always wanting to be served instead of serving others.
At the bottom of the trouble, in all its ramifications, is self. This old enemy must be reckoned dead.
Every time something goes wrong, we are given a fresh opportunity to remember we have died with Christ.
But reckoning self dead is not enough. Christ lives and we can live in newness of life in Him.
In our tiny measure, God gives us opportunity to devote our life to the glory of God. We get to come to our world for the same reason Christ came. As Christ lives His life in us, we're able to come fresh at each day—not to be ministered to, but to minister. □
MOODY / MAY 1983