Lenten Devotion: Helpership: Supporting God, Leaders & Others Through Listening!
Sunday, February 25, 2018
Helpership: Supporting God, Leaders & Others Through Listening!
My senior pastor said to me, “I feel uncomfortable working with you!” and walked out of the office. I was left alone in the room, startled. Later, in a counseling class, I was able to recognize why he felt like this. Back in the 1990s, in Korean Confucian culture, an associate pastor speaking his opinions frankly without reserve and insisting on specific ideas, as I had done, was unusual. I later apologized to my senior pastor and promised that I would share my opinions two or three times with him, and then, if he still wanted to do something his way, I would give up my idea and follow his will. After this moment, paradoxically, he listened to me more seriously and let me do whatever I wanted to do, giving me his full support. I also didn’t cling to my ideas, but instead focused on listening to his intentions by thinking from his perspective. Out of this relationship, we were able to bear amazing fruits of ministry until I came to America.
In this scripture passage, I notice that Peter followed his own will by challenging Jesus rather than supporting him. When Jesus said that his purpose in going to Jerusalem was to die on the cross, Peter rebuked Jesus because this was different from what he was thinking. Confronting Peter, Jesus described what it meant to be his disciple: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat: I am.” (Mark 8:34). Therefore, a disciple’s calling is to assist Jesus as he drives. Jesus is leading my life, my ministry, and my work. Jesus’ way of leading my life involves my self-sacrifice and supporting God’s and others’ will first and not taking care of own benefit or goals first. My ego wants to achieve fame, an important role, power, etc. – I want to have a good image. Thus, self-sacrifice is the real way of saving myself, my true self; God’s will and my true will become the same as I understand my purpose in life, which is to follow God’s path and to give my unique gifts to the world.
Come to think of it, Jesus was also a helper because he was supporting God and God’s will. Jesus said, “. . . I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me.” (John 8:28). Jesus listened to God’s teaching first. And he pointed out that he came to serve, not to be served – and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who were held hostage. (Matthew 20:28). His focus was not his will but God’s will, not being served by others but serving others and giving his life to others. Serving others implies helping others and putting priority on others, not on ourselves. Jesus shows that this way is the way to save our souls. The opposite way – of living an “I-centered” life without sacrifice – is the way to lose our souls. Jesus is the true model of this way of living his own life and of leading our lives.
Thus, the real leader is the person who helps God and others first, just as the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11). The real leader helps people who are entrusted by God to him or her. That’s the real way of helping God, others, and eventually our own true self. Through our sacrifices, everyone receives God’s help since God helps us through the sacrifices of various other people. That’s the way of kingdom life – helping others. Therefore, focusing on God’s will and on others, following God’s will, and putting the priority on others’ needs first through listening well to them is a way to get help for ourselves.
In closing, I ask myself these questions: Am I living my life so that I support God’s will before my own? Am I helping my leaders? Am I helping those given to me to serve? Am I enjoying getting help as I help God and others first? Am I convicted that serving God and helping others first is a way to save my soul? Am I paying attention to listening to God, leaders, and others to help them, just as Jesus, our great model, did?
Rev. Dr. Daeseop Daniel Yi
SFTS Adjunct Faculty
Faculty Advisor to the SFTS Korean Student Association (KSA)
GTU PhD 2012; SFTS MATS 2002