This article was originally published by The Mennonite

True greatness

Byron Pellecer photo Byron Pellecer

Byron Pellecer is Associate Conference Minister (Texas-Based) for Western District Conference. 

While visiting and worshiping at a local Mennonite church in the Houston area, I was deeply moved by a young boy’s attitude and service. I’ll call him Carlitos.

At first glance, while Carlitos was clearing the tables and disposing any waste inside of big trash can, he seemed to be “just another kid” playing and trying to be nice and attentive. I was so wrong! He really meant to do it, and he was doing it with passion, too. Did I mention that he is also part of the worship and dance team of his church?

His smile and attitude resembles that one kid who has everything that a kid can ask for in a lifetime!

However, this is not Carlitos’ reality. From a socio-economic view, he is poor and a victim of our broken immigration system. His parents were deported back to Mexico.

Nowadays, Carlitos lives in Houston without his parents and the only person caring and looking after him is his aunt. Well, the lady whom he calls “aunt.” She is not his real aunt, but is a friend of his parents. Now they both attend and worship at a Hispanic Mennonite church in Houston.

Carlitos did not have even one  electronic device on him, or any other toy for that matter. Yet I saw him playing and running with other kids, just like any other kid. But when we were ready to vacate the premises, the fellowship hall, after a very delicious meal, Carlitos began to clear the tables.

Carlitos’ service ministry reminded me of Mark 9:33-37. The way I see it, the highlighted theme that emerges from the text takes discipleship, leadership and ministry and anchors them to servanthood. It also highlights how Jesus’s care for his own flock takes precedence.

Here, it is also emphasized, is a lesson on what it really means to be Christ’s community. In addition, it describes how the disciples were concerned about who is going to be the greatest among them. It seems that for them, the kingdom of God was only of an earthly nature!

In light of the text, I am challenged to ponder the following question: Who is the greatest, or first, among us vs.who is the servant among us?

Over time, I have learned so many good, deep and meaningful lessons in and for life, but probably one that impacted my life the most is that assumptions are dangerous. Another one is this: one must be intentional and thoughtful, as much as one is able, in life. I guess doing and being church is not any different. It has been and it is meant to be intentional.

If the church loses its intentionality, then it loses its “north” or its mission. God’s mission, that is.

I think that church leaders are a key component when it comes to being the church, at least the kind of church that God intends, missional in every expression. Consequently, the greatest leader is one who learns to serve and one who develops greater leaders than the leader himself.

What I have in mind is a servant leader lifestyle. Maybe this is why Carlitos’ attentiveness -ministry- impacted me so much. After all, discipleship, leadership and ministry or mission are not to be separated from servanthood.

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