THE SPIRITUAL MINISTRY
H.H. POPE SHENOUDA III
THE SPIRITUAL MINISTRY
H. H. POPE SHENOUDA III
Title : The Spiritual Ministry
Author : H. H. Pope Shenouda III.
Translated by : Mr. Roger Gad and Laurice Saleeb
Illustrated by : Sister Sawsan.
Edition : First - November 1997.
Revised : COEPA 1997
H.H. Pope Shenouda III, 117th Pope of
Alexandria and the See of St. Mark
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER ONE 9
WHAT IS THE SPIRITUAL MINISTRY? 9
1. The Ministry Is Love 9
2. The Ministry Is Giving To Everyone 11
3. The Servant Gives Spiritual Nourishment 12
4. Ministry Is Holy Zeal 13
5. The Ministry Is A Bridge Between God And People 14
6. Ministry Is The Work Of Angels And The Apostles 14
7. Ministry Is Payment Of A Debt 15
8. Ministry Is An Obligation 15
9. Ministry Is A Scale, A Talent And A Responsibility 16
10. Ministry Is About Being A Good Example And Caring 16
11. Ministry Is Fullness And Over Flowing 18
12. Ministry Is A Way Of Life, Transferring From One Person To
13. Ministry Is A Working Power 19
14. Ministry Is Spirit, Not A Formal Work 19
15. Ministry Is A Way Towards Spiritual Growth 20
CHAPTER TWO 21
THE PLACE OF GOD IN THE MINISTRY 21
1. Ministry Is The Humility Of God 21
2. God Invites Us To The Ministry 22
3. God Is The Speaker In The Ministry 22
4. God Gives Us Power To Influence Our Listeners 23
Examples In Teaching 27
CHAPTER THREE 29
HUMILITY IN THE MINISTRY 29
A Servant 29
The Apostles Were Also Called Ministers 30
Humility In Teaching 32
Humility In Our Lives 32
CHAPTER FOUR 33
EVALUATING SUCCESSFUL MINISTRY 33
Incorrect Evaluation Of The Ministry 33
Elements of Successful Ministry 38
CHAPTER FIVE 42
THE SPIRITUAL MINISTER 42
The Real Servant 42
Spiritual Ministers 42
The Spiritual Minister Always Works 50
There is no doubt that servants are in continuous need for
learning about the spirituality of the ministry, in case they
should think that the ministry is just teaching information or
transferring knowledge. This book contains some lectures
addressed in the great Cathedral of Anba Rowais in Cairo; these
meetings are attended by thousands of servants. These lectures
deal with the spiritual ministry, the position of God in our
ministry, the proper spiritual measure for the successful
ministry, and the consequences when guided by the wrong
measurements. This book will also deal with the minister as a
good example who is blessed and spiritual, as well as the
characteristics of ministry in his life.
This book is the sixth in a series of books directed to Sunday
School servants and servants preparation classes. The other
five books are Holy Zeal, Discipleship, How to Deal with
Children, Verses for Learning in Alphabetical order and
Quizzes on the Holy Bible.
We hope, through the grace of the Lord, to continue publishing
more books in this series. We pray for the success of this
blessed ministry world-wide.
Pope Shenouda III.
WHAT IS THE SPIRITUAL MINISTRY?
The ministry is not just teaching or tutoring, otherwise it
becomes a mere intellectual work. The servant is not just a
teacher, or a store of knowledge, transferring information to the
minds of the children. So what is the ministry, then?
1. The Ministry Is Love:
This love fills the heart of the servant towards God and His
Kingdom, towards people and especially the children. He loves
God and wants everyone to love Him too. He loves people and
wants them to reach God, and his service is an expression of
The Ministry is a natural outcome of something greater
than the service itself - Divine Love:
Service is an expression of love overflowing from the heart, it is
a desire to serve. If it is without love, it becomes dry, routinely
and without spirit or fruits. It will just be a transfer of
Then we love those whom we serve, as God loves us, and then
we will be successful in our ministry:
Let us fill our hearts with love, as much as we can. Love was
the basis of our Lord Christ's ministry "....having loved His
own who were in the world, He loved them to the end." (John
13:1). The act of salvation is a clear expression of this love.
St. John the Beloved also writes "For God so loved the world
that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in
Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
As for you, you can never have a spiritual effect on a person
unless there is love between you and that person. Through the
child's love for you, trust will develop and the child will accept
your words. Eventually, they will tell you what is inside their
hearts. In this event, you can know their spiritual needs and
guide them to God and His Kingdom.
So, the Sunday School servant is a loving and loved person.
They love their children and their children love them. The
servants love their ministry and this love will run into their
hearts and their bodies.
The servants who love their children will serve with feeling:
If any one of their children are absent, they will miss them.
Even if twenty eight out of thirty are present, the true servant
will keep thinking about the other two. This feeling will be
apparent when they go to visit them.
The ministry (service) is not a formal work, it is an
expression of love for God and the people:
In all their activities and ministry, servants do not concentrate
on themselves, in case they desire to appear as good and honest
servants in their own eyes. This type does not fear God's
judgment. The true servants serve out of love towards their
When preparing a lesson, the main objective should be to give
the children all what they can offer, so they try to find
interesting stories, collecting any beneficial ideas and useful
information. The intention is not for the lesson to be perfect,
but to make others happy, to work for their benefit, and to
suffer for their sake.
2. The Ministry Is Giving To Everyone:
The servant gives without obligation, naturally, without being
pressured to do so. As the sun, by its natural law gives heat and
light, and the tree gives shade, flowers and fruits, so the servant
gives freely to all. Also, as the spring gives water and quenches
everyone's thirst, so the servants who freely give, refresh the
souls of all they meet. By their nature, they love, teach, visit,
help and support everyone, without partiality.
They give to everybody in every occasion and everywhere:
In their home, with their families, at work, at university or at
Church, they are like their Master, Jesus "....who went about
doing good ..." (Acts 10:38) . They try to draw people closer
to God by all means.
Service, then, means to do good deeds, lovingly towards
This is planted by God, through a useful word, a blessing and
giving help. It moves the heart of the servant towards the
people he meets. They are constantly giving themselves to
3. The Servant Gives Spiritual Nourishment:
Nourishment is offered by the servants to the souls of their
children, to feed them with the good word of God. The Lord
says "Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his
master will make ruler over his household, to give them their
portion of food in due season?" (Luke 12:42).
Servants give their children rich meals from spiritual books, the
lives of the saints and hymns. They also include teachings
related to the theological beliefs and doctrines of the Church in
a simple and spiritual method.
How can the servant offer a rich, spiritual meal to his
children in just one hour per week?
Spiritual influence does not depend on how many hours spent
with the children, but on the power of the spiritual word coming
from the spiritual servant. They should be led by the Holy
Spirit of God "...the word of God is living and powerful, and
sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the
division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a
discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Heb 4:12).
St. Anthony heard just one word in Church, and his whole life
was changed. This was the reason for the founding of the
angelic (monastic) life in the Church.
4. Ministry Is Holy Zeal:
It is a flame of fire inside the heart which makes it full of love
towards others and desire their salvation. David the Psalmist
says "... zeal for Your house has eaten me up ..."(Ps. 69:9).
Similarly, St. Paul says "I have become all things to all men,
that I might by all means save some." (1 Cor 9:22).
The Good Shepherd says "I am the good shepherd. The good
shepherd gives His life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd;
and I know My sheep, and am known by My own." (John
10:11, 14). Also, "I will seek what was lost and bring back
what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what
was sick." ( Ezek 34:16).
It is a great favour from God to give us the chance to share with
Him in caring about His children. He can do this work alone,
but because He is so humble, he allowed us to work with Him,
Glory be to His Name. This is why St. Paul the Apostle says
about himself and Apollos "For we are God's fellow workers;"
(1 Cor 3:9 )
Service is Co-operation and communion with the Holy
The Holy Spirit is working for the establishment of the
Kingdom, we are just His instruments. The Holy Spirit works
in us, through us and with us. He gives words to those who
evangelise and makes the word effective to the listeners. The
Lord said "...for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your
Father who speaks in you." (Matt 10:20) How beautiful are
the letters addressing each of the Bishops of the seven Churches
in Asia "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says
to the churches."' ( Rev 2:7 )
5. The Ministry Is A Bridge Between God And People:
You should be a strong bridge in your service, delivering what
the Holy Spirit says. The spiritual servants are the ones who
take from God and give to their children, they do not give from
their own resources. Service is like Jacob's ladder, reaching up
to heaven from earth, where the angels of God were ascending
and descending on it (Gen 28:12); they were ascending with the
needs of the people to present them before God, and
descending with their fulfilments from God.
Didn't the Lord say "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and
you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." (Matt 7:7).
Servants, in their ministry, are like the angels of God in heaven.
They raise their prayers up to heaven on behalf of their children
that God might give them utterance, to open their
mouths...(Eph 6:19), and from the ladder of Jacob, the word
shall descend, and they preach it to their children.
6. Ministry Is The Work Of Angels And The Apostles:
St. Paul said about the angels "Are they not all ministering
spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit
salvation?" (Heb 1:14). He also said about himself and the rest
of the Apostles, "Therfore, we are ambassadors for
Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore
you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God." (2 Cor 5:20).
7. Ministry Is Payment Of A Debt:
The Church has brought us up, taught us, guided us to God and
granted us the spirit of service, so we are indebted to God who
loved us so much, gave us everything and taught us His ways.
We have to love Him exactly as He loved us, declaring this love
towards His children whom He placed in our care.
8. Ministry Is An Obligation:
It is a spiritual obligation, whoever loves God and loves people
should serve. He can't just stand by, watching others going
apart from the way of the Lord. Since the servants experience
God's love, they will be keen to help God's children and
guide them to God. When the Samaritan woman knew
Christ, she went immediately to tell everyone, calling, "Come,
see a Man who told me all things that I ever did" (John 4:
29). She was turned from a sinner, into a repentant, then to a
preacher, who loves Christ and talks to people about Him. This
happened with so many other people whom Jesus had healed,
and they went all around talking about Him.
Every person can serve according to their talents
People can serve in so many areas: caring for the sick, solving
problems, tutoring, being a good example.. and so on. As for
people who do not serve at all, they are neglecting their
obligation towards their brothers and sisters. This is a sin and
should be confessed to their spiritual Father, because this means
that their love for God, His kingdom and His children is
9. Ministry Is A Scale, A Talent And A Responsibility:
We will have to stand before the Lord and give an account on
how honestly we served our children. What did we do to build
them up spiritually? The ministry then is a critical responsibility
before God and the Church. This is because the servant might
be the only source of religious education at this stage of the
child's life. Maybe there is no one at home or at school to
nourish them spiritually, and the Church has depended on you
for this responsibility. If they cannot find the spiritual
nourishment through the servants, they might lose their souls!!
Servants should fill their hearts with the love of God and His
knowledge, otherwise, their children will be empty from inside
and lose their spiritual way. God shall ask the servant "Give an
account of your stewardship" (Luke 16:2). Let us always
remember that service is not an activity, but a responsibility and
a talent which we should offer to God with profit.
10. Ministry Is About Being A Good Example And Caring:
Ministry is more than teaching, it is caring for the lives of
others; nourishing the divine image, through their good
example. So, the teacher is important in the ministry - not
the lesson. The teacher who tasted the sweetness of the Lord,
wants others to taste it too "Oh, taste and see that the LORD is
good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!" (Ps 34:8). It is
the life of a person filled with the Holy Spirit, which over-
flow into the hearts of others. The children do not need a
teacher to fill their minds with different information, they need a
clean heart, close to God; to guide them in the way of God and
intercede for them. They need a good example to follow, in
which they can see Christianity in practice.
There might be some Sunday School teachers who are not so
eloquent or rich in knowledge, but they have a great influence
on the children. Just the look of them implants the love of God
in the children's' hearts; the way they talk or deal with others,
their spiritual behaviour, their quiet, smiling features, all this can
teach them more than a lesson given inside the class. They see
the image of God in their servants, so they love God who
works in their lives. Children like to imitate , so let us be a
good example for them to follow. They are high in spiritualities,
with clean hearts and noble principles. They are white pages
during their childhood, and the Lord Jesus says "Assuredly, I
say to you, unless you are converted and become as little
children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven."
(Matt. 18:3). Jesus did not mean us to be as young as children,
but to grow in spirituality and innocence like children.
If you cannot be a good example, at least don't be a
stumbling block because they are so simple, they accept and
believe whatever you say or do. Let your words be the truth and
righteousness, because the Lord says "But whoever causes one
of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better
for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were
drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matt. 18:6).
Preaching by example is called the Silent Ministry. This is
where a person teaches without speaking. People learn just
from their behaviour, their lives are sermons - not their speech.
11. Ministry Is Fullness And Overflowing:
It is life, not just words, the words should be turned into living
behaviour, giving a good example to others, as our Lord Jesus
says "The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are
life." (John 6:63). Do your words give life to others? Listen
to what the Lord says: "I have come that they may have life,
and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
Does your ministry change the life of others? You should
first have a life with Christ as well as communion with Him, so
that you can give life to others. There is a well known saying
amongst the servants "You can never overflow before you are
filled us." The disciples spent three years with Jesus learning from
their Good Teacher, the Greatest Teacher, learning from His
pure sermons and practical experiences. They observed Him in
His ministry and the lessons He taught through miracles and
wonders. In spite of all this, He said to them; "But tarry in the
city of Jerusalem, until you are endued with power from on
high." (Luke 24:49), and also "But you shall receive power
when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be
witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria,
and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8). When the Holy Spirit
descended on them on Pentecost Day, they were filled with the Holy
Spirit. Only after this, did they start their ministry, preaching to
the whole world.
12. Ministry Is A Way Of Life, Transferring From
One Person To Another:
This is not only done through being a good example and caring.
We have an excellent example in the Holy Bible talking about
the service of the seventy elders who helped Moses the prophet
in his ministry. "So the LORD said to Moses: "Gather to Me
seventy men of the elders of Israel;... bring them to the
tabernacle of meeting. ...Then I will come down and talk with
you there. I will take of the Spirit that is upon you and will put
the same upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the
people with you...." (Num 11:16-17).
13. Ministry Is A Working Power:
It is the power of the Holy Spirit working in the servant and
those whom he serves, it is the power of the word of God that
never returns void (Is 55:11). It is exactly like the power of life
found in a seed, you plant it in the soil and it never stops
working and growing, until it gives you fruits: a hundredfold,
sixty and thirty (Matt 13:8).
14. Ministry Is Spirit, Not A Formal Work:
Some people might think that the Ministry is just the surface
appearance: the preparation book the attendance records and
visitations. This is not all that the service involves - The
ministry is spirit before anything else. It is the spirit of the
servant delivered to their children, the spirit with which he
teaches and deals with them, it is his heart before his tongue, the
warmth of his heart before his spoken message.
15. Ministry Is A Way Towards Spiritual Growth:
Not only for children, but also for the teacher. If the servants
do not make use of the lesson themselves, this lesson can
never affect the children. The lesson must be a spiritual means
for the servant's and the children's growth. A servant who
thinks that the lesson is just for the children is not a true
THE PLACE OF GOD IN THE MINISTRY
God is the reason of the ministry, He is the One who invited us
to do it. He is working with us to obtain the goal.
Some servants talk on so many subjects, except God. You
can never recognise God in their words, they never affect
your heart, your thoughts or your life, even though they
mention the Name of God.
They just give information, not subjects leading to God. They
may speak about virtues, history, doctrine and rites without the
clear image of God. Here, we would like to mention that:
1. Ministry Is The Humility Of God:
God, of course can do everything alone, He can turn the whole
world into saints, and He can organise the service without you
or me. But, out of His humility, He gives us the opportunity
to share with Him in His work. He allows us to share in the
work of the Holy Spirit. He works with us, in us and
through us. He is the One Who does all the work, then
attributes it to us !!!
After all that, can we forget God in our ministry?
Sometimes, people get off the track and are more concerned
with their personal glory and fame, hence, the Name of God
2. God Invites Us To The Ministry:
The Lord Jesus said to His disciples "You did not choose Me, but I
chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear
fruit." (John 15:16), also, "And no man takes this honour to
himself, but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was." (Heb
5:4). This applies either to priesthood or any other ministry.
3. God Is The Speaker In The Ministry:
No one can talk on their own authority in the ministry, even
Balaam says: "The word that God puts in my mouth, that I must
speak." (Num 22:38).
So, the servant is a person speaking the words that God
puts in their mouth. They take from God and give it to the
people. We read so many times in the Bible "Now the Lord
called to Moses and spoke to him saying "Speak to the children
of Israel....." So, Moses used to take from the mouth of God
and speak to the people, because Moses didn't know how to
speak, he said to God at the very beginning "O my Lord, I am
not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your
servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue." (Ex
4:10). Lord Jesus Christ says to his disciples comforting them;
"for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who
speaks in you." (Matt 10:20). How beautiful to think that it is
not us who speak, but God! It is the words of God, the thought
of God (1Cor 2:16).
Do you always pray to God to give you His words when you
speak? "The Lord gave the word; Great was the company of
those who proclaimed it:" (Ps 68:11). It is very dangerous to
speak if you haven't taken the words from God, it is not safe to
fill the minds of others with human wisdom, as the Apostle says
"And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive
words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and
of power..." (1 Cor 2:4). Pray from all your heart before
starting your ministry, so that He might give you suitable and
beneficial words to say to the people.
4. God Gives Us Power To Influence Our Listeners:
The Lord Christ ordered His disciples not to "depart from
Jerusalem until they are endued with power from on high"
(Luke 24:49). What was that power? He says, "But you shall
receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and
you shall be a witness to me ..." (Acts 1:8).
It is true, they didn't service except through this power taken
from the Holy Spirit. If you haven't taken power from the Holy
Spirit, how can you serve?!
Preparing the Servants:
Many servants are being prepared through lessons in the Holy
Bible, in history, in rites and doctrines which are all useful, but
preparation should not stop here, there should be a spiritual
preparation, in which the servant is filled with the Spirit of
God, taking from Him, and giving to others.
The servants do not just take words, they also take power, spirit
and divine influence. They also take God's deep love, to love
their children with, and work hard for their salvation.
St. Peter the Apostle addressed a sermon on Pentecost Day
which cut the hearts of the listeners, and three thousand were
baptised on that day!!! (Acts 2:41). How did this happen? Can
any normal sermon have that great effect? Of course not, these
words were powerful and spiritual. There is a difference
between someone who tells you something and convinces you
without causing you to act on it, and someone who convinces
you to act on their advice.
Therefore, preparing your lesson is preparing yourself
spiritually. You will be in a spiritual state when God's grace
fills your heart, and gives you words of power and spirituality.
You can invite God to come with you to attend the lesson. He
will talk, and work in the hearts of your children. Everyone will
feel His presence and say; "Truly, this lesson was full of the
Spirit of God, we felt that God was touching our hearts."
Real servants are people carrying the Lord inside
themselves (THE OPHOROUS):
There is a difference between ministry and teaching. Teaching
is just transferring knowledge to the minds of our listeners,
whereas service is leading souls to God by being a spiritual
person. It is not only giving information, but giving them spirit,
the love of God and His Kingdom.
In Sunday School, we have so many teachers who are not
They read many books to gain knowledge and just transfer this
knowledge to their students. But this is not service - it is
education. Ministry or service is the transfer of the spirit to the
children, and filling their hearts with the love of God. In other
words, a servant transfers the spirit and love - not just
information. The servant is a person who loves people, and
gives them the love of God. They abide in God, and
consequently, abide in love, because God is love (1 John
4:16). God trains His servants to love, because love is an
important element in the ministry. Without love, the ministry
will be just a fruitless activity.
If you haven't reached that level of love, you are not yet
prepared for the ministry:
What is this love we need for the service? It is to love all
people, as God loves them. To love them as your brethren,
because they are the children of God and you must desire the
salvation of their souls. Love the Church which contains
Christ's body, love the Kingdom of Heaven where people will
enjoy being with God. From all your heart you should try to
lead them to the love of God, because He loved them first (1
Here, we will introduce an example from Revelations declaring
the relationship between God and His Church with its servants.
The Lampstands and the Stars:
St. John the Beloved said that he saw the Lord in the middle of
the seven golden lampstands which are the seven churches,
holding seven stars who are the angels of the Churches (Rev
2:1, Rev 1:20). St. John explains that the Lord is walking "in
the midst of the seven golden lampstands", for He said "For
where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am
there in the midst of them" (Matt 18:20). He is the True
light, giving light to the flames of the seven lampstands. He
is the Holy oil feeding the wick, and so it gives light. He is
holding the servants in His right hand and leads them. While
they are in His hands, every servant chants with David "The
right hand of the Lord does valiantly, the right hand of the
Lord is exalted" (Psalm 118:15-16). If the servant is on the right
hand of the Lord, they will never fear anything or lose the way,
because the right hand of God is leading them. So we must
make sure that God is walking in the midst of our lives, holding
us in His right hand.
If you are not in God's right hand, you cannot serve:
The servant is trying always to acquire power from God. He is
praying and saying: You can see, Lord, that we live in a lustful
world, who am I to resist all this? Please Lord, grant me the
power, give me your words and your wisdom to lead me.
Preserve me, so that I might not be a stumbling block for
anyone. Oh Lord, lead me and lead them, teach me and
teach them, guide me and guide them to the green pastures
and to the springs of living waters. St. Augustine said, "I am
a teacher to them, but a student in Your class, I am their
shepherd, but one of your flock", here, you invite God to share
in your ministry, that your lesson will be a lesson from God to
you, and then to them.
The Lord will be the lesson and the teacher:
The service, therefore, is a grace from God, working in a person
for the benefit of others, connecting both to God. The service is
the communion of the Holy Spirit, where the Spirit shares the
ministry with the servants. If this is ministry, what is
Consecration is growing in love, until all the heart is owned
by God, praying, pleading and serving all the time. But
what about those who become so busy in their ministry,
forgetting God? They become busy with the means rather than
the aim! Their own self becomes the core of the ministry, and
they stray far away from God Himself.
Examples In Teaching:
1. Do you give the children information from the Holy
Bible, the story of God with His people and His
love, care and suffering? Do you just retell stories
or relate them to God and the way He deals with His
people. How can we talk about the creation without
talking about God's love and wisdom in preparing
everything for man.
2. If we talk about sin and repentance, do we talk
about God? Sin is not only corruption and
deception, it is separation from the Lord, and
rebellion against Him. Repentance also, is not just
to become good, but also to reconcile with God and
return to Him.
3. How can we teach the lives of the saints? Is it not
just telling the history of their lives and works? We
should explain how the Lord prepared those souls
until they reached that high level of spirituality. It
was God who strengthened and protected them, we
should relate how they loved Him from all their
hearts, and this love appeared clearly in their lives.
Therefore, we cannot tell a story about a saint
without referring to God in his/her life.
4. The eternal paradise, can we talk about it without
including God? Is it just heaven, happiness and the
Heavenly Jerusalem? Or is it enjoying the presence
of God, the continuous life with Him and those who
loved Him. It is a fulfilment of the Divine promise:
"that where I am, there you may be also" (John
14:3). and "He will dwell with them" (Rev 21:3).
5. The same pattern should be followed when teaching
theology, Church doctrines and rites: They should
be related to God, not taught as delivering dry
HUMILITY IN THE MINISTRY
The servant should have certain spiritual characteristics, the first
of which should be humility. This characteristic is very
important because the Lord Jesus said to His disciples, "learn from
Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart" (Matt 11:29). He
could have concentrated on many other virtues in His Holy
personality, but He stressed on gentleness and lowliness,
because they that serve, usually face the wars of vain glory and
pride. They feel that they are an important pillar of the Church,
where people should consult them on different matters. Here
we would like to point out that a servant should not forget
that he/she is a servant.
This is a humbling label since a servant is not a master, a
preacher, a tutor or a teacher. His job is to serve, not to rule or
be proud. Although our Master Jesus Christ is the King of
kings and Lord of lords (Rev 19:16), He lowered Himself and
washed His disciples' feet giving them an example in humility.
He also said, "The Son of Man did not come to be served, but
to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Matt
The title servant was given to the angels also, in Hebrews 1:14
it says "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister
for those who will inherit salvation?" Also, in (Psalm 104:4)
"Who makes His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire."
The Apostles Were Also Called Ministers:
St. Paul says about himself and His partner in the ministry,
Apollos "Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers
through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one?"
(1 Cor 3:5). He also says about Tychicus "...Tychicus, a
beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, will make all
things known to you;" (Eph 6:21). He says about Epaphras
"as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant,
who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf..." (Col 1:7).
The priest who offers the Holy Communion in the Holy Liturgy
is called the serving priest. Even the meeting of Sunday School
teachers is called the servant's meeting.
So, as you are a servant, my dear brethren, I ask you to be
humble, and to understand the nature of the service. If you are
a servant, you have to be obedient, to God, to your supervisors
and to those who organise your service. Some Sunday School
servants do not obey or respect the priests, although they call
themselves servants, the same situation occurs with the priests
who do not obey their Bishop and so on. To be humble, you
must always practice humility.
Some servants might think that they do not need to learn any
more now, as they are actively serving, and this is wrong. To
keep your humility, you have to keep your discipleship. All the
Christians during the Apostolic era were called disciples, and
the Lord Jesus, when He sent the eleven out to preach, He said
"Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations" (Matt
Always be a disciple to the Lord and to the Church, do not be
proud. If you feel that you have become a teacher and not a
disciple, you are starting to fall in pride. If you live as a
disciple, you'll get rid of many problems. First, you will get
rid of arguments, and be ready to accept other people's
opinions with pleasure. Keep your spiritual childhood as the
Lord says "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted
and become as little children, you will by no means enter the
kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 18:3).
There are many examples of saints who lived as disciples:
Joshua was Moses' disciple until Moses died. Also, Elisha
was Elijah's disciple until Elijah ascended into heaven, so he
farewelled him saying "My father, my father, the chariot of
Israel and its horsemen!"(2 Kin 2:12). Although St.
Athanasius the Apostolic was the Pope of Alexandria, he kept
being a disciple of St. Anthony the great saying "I used to pour
water on his hands", which means that he was serving St.
Anthony. In ancient times, the disciples used to sit at the feet of
their teachers. They did not sit next to them or in front of them,
but the teacher used to sit on a chair while his disciples sat on
the ground at his feet. About this, St. Paul said, "I am indeed a
Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the
feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our
fathers' law, and was zealous toward God as you all are
today." (Acts 22:3). Try to be a disciple to your confession
father, in spiritual meetings, a disciple to nature - the gardens,
flowers, birds and books.
Humility In Teaching:
Believe me, one of the major problems in our Church today is
the lack of humility in teaching. If a servant has got a new
thought from his readings, he tries to force it on others and
make it a doctrine. The problem here is that you present a
personal belief and not the Church's doctrines. The first
Church was characterised by One thought because it was a
humble Church submitting to its leaders. As the Protestants
called for liberty in explaining and teaching, they were split into
hundreds of beliefs. The traditional Church, however, keeps its
true faith, and does not allow individual beliefs to pollute the
original doctrines handed down by the apostles. Humble
servants do not show off their knowledge. They present the
lesson in a simple and spiritual manner rather than in a
philosophical manner. They should speak at the same level of
their students or listeners. Humble servants should care
about preparing their lessons, not depending on their existing
knowledge as some servants do.
Humility In Our Lives:
Humble servants should deny themselves so that the Lord might
appear in their lives. As St. John the Baptist said, "He must
increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). Some people
become proud of their long period of service, so they keep
telling stories about their experience in Humility
EVALUATING SUCCESSFUL MINISTRY
The measurements of God are different from those of people.
He is looking at the hearts and He knows everything. When he
evaluates the service, for sure, we will discover very strange
facts on judgment day. Maybe we will see servants of whom we
never heard about before!! Maybe we won't see the servants
that we served with!!
Incorrect Evaluation Of The Ministry:
Evaluating The Service According To Responsibilities:
People evaluate the service according to the responsibilities of
that servant. God, however, has different measurements. Let
us turn to St. Stephen the first deacon, as an example. He was
just a deacon, without any high rank. If the Church measured
the strength of his ministry according to his rank in the Church,
he would not be considered very highly, but, as it stands, he is
mentioned even before all the Patriarchs. His ministry is
measured according to its depth, for he was full of the Holy
Spirit, wisdom and faith (Acts 6:3,5). Acts 6:8 mentions "And
Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs
among the people." He faced three synagogues of the
Freedmen (Cyrenians, Alexandrians and those from Cilicia and
Asia), they were disputing with Stephen, but "they were not
able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke"
This is why, after the laying on of hands (ie. after he became a
deacon), "....the word of God spread, and the number of the
disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of
the priests were obedient to the faith." (Acts 6:7). This was the
powerful ministry of a deacon, which the Jews couldn't bear, so
they stoned him. During this, he said, "Look! I see the heavens
opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!"
(Acts 7:56), and "and they saw his face as the face of an
angel" (Acts 6:15).
Let us also look at St. Abraam the Syrian. He resisted the
Arians strongly, and fought for the sake of the true faith,
although he was just a reader in the Church, a rank given to
thousands and thousands of Sunday School servants. He was
called the "violin of the Holy Spirit" and "The Teacher" because
of his poems and spiritual writings which influenced so many
people. Can we then measure his ministry according to his rank
as a reader?
Another example is St. Athanasius at the council of Nicea. At
that time, he was just a deacon among 318 of the well known
fathers, bishops and priests representing the Churches of the
whole world. His work is measured according to his attitude
against the Arians, and his zeal in defending the proper faith.
He also extended the Creed to refute this heresy, the creed in
which all the Churches of the world believe. Here, the ministry
is not measured according to its rank, but according to its
power and influence.
Also, St. Simeon the Piercer was a man without any rank in
the Church - he was merely a layman. But the strength of his
service was in the depth of his prayers. He saved the whole
Church through the miracle of moving the Moqqatam mountain.
This was done during the rule of Pope Abraam Ibn Zaraa.
Anba Roweis was not a bishop, priest or even a deacon, he was
without any job or service in the Church, but in spite of that, the
Church ranks him as one of its fathers.
We can also remember here, Ibrahim El Gohary, who was a
layman occupying a job in the Government, but, he had a deep
love for the church. Nobody can forget his services in building
monasteries, Churches and helping the poor in a way which puts
him above many servants.
An example apart from the Coptic Church is Michael Angelo.
He was an artist, but his services in painting the Church's icons,
made him famous in history, especially St. Peter's Cathedral.
We don't ask about his rank, but about his deep and sincere
The Place Of Ministry:
Some people relate the importance of the servant to the place
where they serve, but this is wrong. An example is St.
Gregory of Niazinza. He was a Bishop of the city of Niazinza
which is a small, unknown city. Yet, because of his deep,
precious sermons and theological understanding he was called
St. Gregory the Theologian. He made this city famous, it
wasn't the city who made him famous.
The same applies to St. Gregory the Bishop of Nicea. He was
the brother of St. Basil the great, and wrote many articles
against the followers of Arius. He also had many holy
contemplations, and wrote books about the blessings of God.
Nobody can say that his service was useless because it was
exercised in a small town.
The Lord Jesus Himself was born in a village, Bethlehem, the
least of cities in Judea (Matt 2:6). He was related to Nazareth
and some were wondering "can anything good come out of
Nazareth?" (John 1:46), but He made Nazareth famous and
was called "Jesus of Nazareth" (Matt 26:71). He also made
Bethlehem famous, and it became a holy place.
The Length Of Time In The Ministry:
Many servants measure their greatness according to the long
time they have been in the ministry. There are however,
servants with shorter periods of service who are more effective
John the Baptist served only one or two years, and during this
short period, he prepared the way for the Lord, "He will also
go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah" (Luke 1:17).
The period of Christ's incarnation was very short. He served
for just over three years. After which, He said to the
Father, "I have finished the work which you have given me to
do" (John 17:4). He also said "I have glorified you on
earth..." He completed the salvation, teaching and being a
Pope Kyrillos IV served as Pope for around 8 years, but the
Church called him "The Father of Reformation" because of his
deep services to the Church.
Many priests have proven to be successful over their short
ministry, one such man was Father Manassa Yohanna of the
city of Mallawi (Upper Egypt). He departed when he was 30
years old. During this short time, he delivered thousands of
sermons, wrote many books, and had great spiritual influence
on his congregation.
Another priest who served for a short time was Father
Antonious Baqui of Queens. He was the first priest sent to
America in 1972. He served for only 5 months. However, his
ministry was crowned with the sentence spoken by his
congregation "We knew the Lord the day we knew you". A
person might come to Church as a guest and present a sermon,
maybe this is all what he did in that Church, but his words may
be so effective that many years later, the people still remember
his words. Another may preach in one Church for many years
and not have that degree of influence.
One day of St. Paul's service is greater and deeper than many
years of another's service.
The Number Of People You Are Serving:
This criteria cannot be used as a tool for measuring the
effectiveness of one's ministry. What counts is the number of
those who are influenced by your service and those who
reached God as a result of it. Our Lord Jesus Christ, Himself
preached to thousands, He also ministered to the twelve
disciples. These were more important than the thousands since
they attracted cities and countries to the faith after Christ's
ascension. The number of listeners is not important, but the
number of those accepting the word with joy, in whom the
word bears fruit and leads them to the life of repentance,
holiness and perfection.
The Quantity Of Service
This is in regards to doing so many services at one time. Maybe
you will be so busy doing all these things, you will lose control
of everything, as a result the ministry loses its spirituality. So,
how can a spiritual ministry be measured?
Elements of Successful Ministry:
The Source Of Power In The Ministry:
The importance of the ministry comes from its strength, depth,
love and giving. The way it affects and changes people.
The Effective Word:
This was clear in the Lord Christ's service, Glory be to Him.
We should take notice of the Lord Christ's invitation to St.
Matthew, "And as He passed by, He saw Levi, the son of
Alphaeus, sitting at the tax collector's post and said to him,
"Follow me". And he arose and followed Him" (Mark 2:14),
It was just a word said to a person responsible for tax
collecting. As a result, he left his job, arose and followed Him
without even asking where to?
The same powerful invitation was used when calling the four
fishermen disciples. As it is written, "And as He walked by the
Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and Andrew his brother casting
a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then Jesus said to
them, "Come after Me, and I will make you become fishers of men."
And immediately they left their nets and followed Him. When He
had gone a little farther from there, He saw James the son of
Zebedee, and John his brother, who also were in the boat
mending their nets. And immediately He called them, and they
left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants,
and went after Him." (Mark 1:16-20).
Through the power of the Word, they left everything and
followed Him immediately, without any hesitation, delay or
argument. They left their father, their nets, and everything. St.
Peter summarised it all by saying "..."See, we have left all and
followed You." (Matt 19:27).
The Lord Jesus also used to influence others through His
teachings and sermons: When He ended His sermon on the
mountain, it is written, "... the people were astonished at His
teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not
as the scribes." (Matt 7:28). The same was written about His
teachings in Capernaum (Mark 1:22).
His words had the power of convincing even those who argued
with Him. When He explained to the scribes and Pharisees how
a person is allowed to do good deeds on the Sabbath (Matt
12:1-12) and about the Resurrection, it was written "......He
had silenced the Sadducees" (Matt 22:34). Also, "...no one
was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did
anyone dare question Him anymore." (Matt 22:46).
His words also influenced others because of their warmth
and love. When he said to Zacchaeus, "Zacchaeus, make haste
and come down, for today I must stay at your house." (Luke
19:5). A word, so deep and warm, led this person to
repentance, so that he said to the Lord, "Look, Lord, I give half
of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from
anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold." And Jesus said
to him, "Today salvation has come to this house" ( Luke 19:8,
All this because of one strong, warm word spoken by the Lord.
The same powerful words characterized the ministry of our
Fathers, the Apostles. A sermon said by St. Peter the Apostle
on Pentecost, attracted three thousand people who were
baptized that same day (Acts 2:37-41). The strength of the
word also appears in St. Paul's ministry, even when he was
captured and judged before Felix the governor "Now as he
reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment
to come, Felix was afraid..." . (Acts 24:25).
Also, King Agrippa said to St. Paul, "You almost persuade me
to become a Christian." (Acts 26:28).
The Power Of Giving:
Some servants like the easy service, with no troubles or effort,
but the power of the ministry appears in bearing its hardships, in
love, giving and rejoicing. An example of this is St. Paul the
Apostle's ministry "...in journeys often, in perils of waters, in
perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of
the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in
perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren, in weariness
and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings
often, in cold and nakedness (2 Cor 11:26, 27).
THE SPIRITUAL MINISTER
The attribute of the spiritual ministers (as will be discussed
below) raises concerns and a question - Are we really spiritual
The Real Servant:
It is easy for anyone of us "to think of himself more highly than
he ought to think" (Rom 12:3). We think that we are servants
of the Lord while the ministry in its spiritual depth has high
standards. We may not have reached these yet. Alternatively,
we may have started as spiritual ministers but did not continue
that characteristic through. So who is the spiritual minister?
Spiritual ministers are a beautiful tune in the ears of the
They are clean, pure icons, a source of blessing to whoever sees
them. They are ladders reaching up to heaven always taking
their children above with them. They are bridges transferring
others from the worldly shore to the heavenly shore, from the
present age to eternity. They are the voice of God to people,
not human voices; they are mouths through which God speaks.
The spiritual minister is a heavenly gift, sent from heaven to
earth, and is one of the visits of grace, sent by God to the
people, offering them the taste of heaven and of real life.
The Spiritual minister is a living Bible or a moving Church:
They are the picture of God in front of their children, an ideal
example or model to follow and a means of explaining all
virtues. They always feel the presence of God. The ministry to
them is just like a holy altar, their work or service smells like
incense. The aim of the spiritual minister is to let God enter
their service saying with David "Unless the Lord builds the
house, they labour in vain who build it" (Ps 126:1).
The Spiritual Minister always feels humble and unworthy:
They feel it is an honour to have the responsibility to prepare
saints, "to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke
1:17). They know quite well that the salvation of human souls
is higher than their abilities, it is the work of God. They are not
worthy of sharing this holy work with the Lord and the Holy
Spirit. At the same time, they do not leave the ministry. In
fact, the feeling of humility and unworthiness pushes them to
pray more always saying to the Lord:
"O Lord, this ministry is your work and not mine, I
know that you will work with or without me, I am just a
by-stander "who stands and hears....and rejoices
greatly" (John 3:29). It is true that "neither he who
plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who
gives the increase" (1 Cor 3:7). Do your work, Oh
Lord, let the hearts of your children rejoice. Do not
prevent the grace of Your Holy Spirit from dwelling
inside them because of my weakness and sins."
Being insistent in their prayers, God will grant them His Grace,
and when their ministry succeeds, they give glory to the Lord
Who did all the work.
The Spiritual Minister is always a person of Prayer:
Through prayers, they serve their children and solve the
problems of the service. Prayers to them is like breathing in and
out, as the Fathers said:
The Spiritual minister is a flame of fire:
He has holy zeal for the salvation of souls, saying with
David the Prophet, "Surely I will not go into the chamber
of my house, Or go up to the comfort of my bed; I will
not give sleep to my eyes Or slumber to my eyelids, Until
I find a place for the LORD..." (Ps 132:3-5). This applies
to the hearts of everyone.
The Spiritual Minister is the fragrance of Christ (2 Cor
People smell in them the sweet aroma of Christ because they are
the message of God read by everyone. They are a burnt
offering pleasing to the Lord (Lev :1). In them, the divine fire
becomes its flame, that can never be extinguished.
The Spiritual Minister continuously moves towards the
Moving inside God's heart, because the lord is inside their
hearts. All their works are directed to the comfort of others in
order to transfer every person to God's heart. They are candles
melting with love in order to give light to others, fulfilling the
Lord's words: "You are the light of the world" (Matt 5:14).
The Spiritual Minister is always struggling with God:
Struggling with the Holy Trinity, for their own sakes and for the
sake of their children, making promises for them, "that they
may prosper" (3 John 1:2), and be accepted before the Lord.
The Spiritual Minister is a soul, not only a mind:
They are not just teachers, but great souls united with the Lord
and experiencing life with Him. They have tasted the sweetness
of the Lord, and want to transfer this life to others. They do
this by expressing their feelings, being good examples and
praying for others. They don't just give lessons, they are the
lesson. These servants prepare themselves before preparing the
lesson, remembering the words of the Lord "And for their sake
I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the
truth." (John 17:19), and St. Paul's words to his disciple
Timothy the Bishop "Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine.
Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself
and those who hear you." (1 Tim 4:16).
The children of the spiritual minister do not need visiting:
Their children always want to attend the lesson. When they see
their servants at Church, they feel that they have found a great
treasure. They learn lessons just from their look and manner
with others. Through love, they tie their children to the Church
and the Lord. As a result, the children eagerly wait for the
Spiritual ministers love their children and the salvation of
The love of these children is part of the servants love to God.
The servants love their children as Christ loved His disciples, it
was said about Him, "having loved His own, who were in the
world, He loved them to the end" (John 13:1). Spiritual
servants love God from all their heart, and want all their
children to be the same.
The children of Spiritual servants are spiritual like them:
Their servant brings them up spiritually. Similarly, a social
minister will bring up social children, the scientists concentrate
on the scientific aspect of life, so their children will be just like
books with much information and little spirituality. How
beautiful are the words of Genesis, when talking about the
creation of the plants on the earth "Then God said, "Let the
earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, and the fruit
tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself,
on the earth "; and it was so. And the earth brought forth
grass, the herb that yields seed according to its kind, and the
tree that yields fruit, whose seed is in itself according to its
kind. And God saw that it was good. " (Gen 1:11). If this is the
case, then we must be very careful as to how we reveal God to
them, because our children will be the same.
Spiritual ministers feel that the children are their own
God given talent and responsibility:
Each servant will give an account for each child God gave them
"to give them their portion of food in due season?" (Luke
12:42). This is why each servant should always work in the
fear of God, feeling his great responsibility.
Servants Should Ask Themselves Three Questions:
1. The spirituality of their ministry
2. The spirituality of their life
3. The spirituality of their children:
The spirituality of the servant's life is for the sake of their own
salvation. As for the ministry, it must be spiritual in order to
have a positive, fruitful influence in bringing up a spiritual
generation. The spirituality of children needs patience and long
suffering - letting God do all the divine work in them.
The spiritual ministers should be patient:
Thus gaining fruits from their children. Servants should not
give up quickly, but work as hard as possible until their plants
(children) give fruits and give a chance for the Lord to work in
their lives. Here, we must remember St. Paul's words "We
then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the
weak..... " (Rom 15:1). Some souls will not bear fruits straight
away since they cannot give up their faults quickly. Both
parties need patience until they are saved. God's goodness and
long suffering working in His servants will lead both to
repentance. (Rom 2:4). St. John Chrysostom said "If the
embryo in the body needs many months to be complete before it
comes out, let us also be patient until the spiritual embryo
develops properly and not prematurely".
Spiritual ministers strongly attract their children:
Whoever comes into contact with them is attracted to their
spirituality, and consequently, attracts people to the fatherhood
of God and the motherhood of the Church. This is done in all
love, kindness and care. They also become very attached to the
loving God and are nourished with the teachings of the Church.
The spiritual minister should have "the living and powerful
word of God" (Heb 4:12):
This word influences the listeners, it shall not return void (Is
55:11), they shine on others, enlightening whoever deal with
them, to gain something divine. They are a blessing poured out
on everyone, not only in Church, but also at home, work and
everywhere. They serve everyone they meet and deal with.
They only care about the salvation of their children's souls:
They forget all about themselves and concentrate only on their
children, repeating with St. Paul the Apostle "For I could wish
that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my
kinsmen according to the flesh...." (Rom 9:3).
Spiritual ministers are honest people doing all their best to
They apply the verse "Cursed is he who does the work of the
LORD deceitfully" (Jer 48:10). They work hard and deserve
the work of God with them, that the Lord might consider their
humility and effort, and help them accordingly.
Spiritual ministers do not depend on their own power, but
on the gifts of the Holy Spirit working in them:
They are just instruments led by the Holy Spirit, living in
continuous unity with God. The Holy Spirit works in them
through them and with them. They are people filled with the
Holy Spirit, if they talk, it is not them, but "the Spirit of your
Father who speaks in you." (Matt 10:20).
The Spiritual servant no longer practices the life of
repentance but the life of perfection:
No matter how much they grow, they always feel more humble
and that they have a long way to go. All the time, needing God
to accompany them on their journey.
Spiritual ministers do not feel that they are giving to the
Whenever they start serving, they feel that they are gaining
something new from God, and that the ministry is giving them
more than what they are giving it.
The spiritual minister lives as a student:
They are still learning and experiencing new things. They are
people who lived with God and experienced the way leading to
God. They do not keep this wisdom to themselves but share it
with others, urging them to follow this same way with all its
blessings despite its milestones and difficulties.
Spiritual ministers are examples and blessings in the service,
all their lives:
The minister is not just words, but "spirit and life" (John
6:63). They are a blessing to those they live with, as well as
those they encounter from day to day. The Lord said to
Abraam, "I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and
make your name great; And you shall be a blessing." (Gen
12:2). Elijah was a blessing in the house of the widow. Also,
Joseph in the land of Egypt. Noah was a blessing for the whole
world and more than that, life in the world was preserved
through him. Are we the same wherever we go? Is our
ministry a blessing to others? We must constantly ask ourselves
whether the Lord is blessing our ministry, making it successful
and blessing all those whom we serve. Our presence must
always remind them of the presence of God such that we
become "men of God" as people used to call Elijah.
The Spiritual Minister Works All The Time:
God is always working and we should do the same, as Christ
says "My Father has been working until now, and I have been
working", thus giving us a good example of continuous work,
He used to work all day until sunset. In the miracle of the five
loaves of bread and two fish (Luke 9:12), He also worked at
night. When He met Nicodemus (John 3:2), and when He came
to His disciples in the fourth watch of the night (Matt 14:25).
The Lord Jesus used to work everywhere even while walking
along the path (Luke 19:1-5). He brought Zacchaeus to
repentance by calling him down from the tree and also led the
Samaritan woman to salvation by speaking to her while resting
near the well of Jacob (John 4: 6-7). With the three disciples in
Gethsemane (Matt 26:36), and while walking on the water, He
saved Peter from drowning (Matt 14:28-31). He threw His
seeds everywhere, and the good land yielded fruits 30, 60 and
100 fold, some seeds also fell among thorns and hard soil. The
apostle Paul said about Jesus that He " went about doing good"
(Acts 10:38). Even while Jesus was on the cross, He was
working. Not only the work of salvation (which was His main
work), but also many other works including asking forgiveness
for those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34), asking John to look
after St. Mary (John 19:26, 27) and giving the thief on the right
the blessing of entering into the Paradise of Joy (Luke 23:43).
God always works in silence, without us asking Him to do so.
He fights for those falling under injustice, protects the children,
He saved the three young men from the burning furnace (Dan
3), Daniel from the lions' den (Dan 6), Peter while in prison
(Acts 12), He revealed to St. John things that he never asked to
see, took St. Paul up to the third heaven, and much, much
Since God works continuously, His angels must do the
Those angels about whom David the Prophet speaks "you His
angels who excel in strength, who do His word" (Ps 103:20),
also St. Paul says "Are they not all ministering spirits sent
forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation" (Heb
1:14). They are working by announcing good news,
transferring God's orders to people. They reward people by
either saving or punishing them. The Bible says "The angel of
the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers
them" (Ps 34:7).
God Wants People To Work, Our Work Can Be:
1. Inner Work: This is the work inside one's soul with itself.
Debating, reproaching and fixing up its weaknesses. The other
work inside the soul is with God - a work of love,
meditation, feelings and thoughts dwelling on His
commandments day and night.
2. The work of reconciliation: This is a spiritual work,
aiming at reconciling people to God. St. Paul the Apostle
said about this "For we are God's fellow workers" (1Cor.
The Holy Spirit of God shares the work with us, thus, we
become partners with the Holy Spirit. The Lord said to two of
His disciples "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men"
(Matt 4:19). How can we follow Him and still be made
fishermen. God's will for us is that we throw the net, and He
will call the fish to enter. So we do not do the work alone, but
it is God working with us. He will then reward us, as He says
to the Bishop of the Church of Ephesus, "I know your works,
your labour, your patience, and that you cannot bear those
who are evil ... and you have persevered and have patience, and
have laboured for My name's sake and have not become
weary." (Rev 2:2).
This is why the Apostle says "Therefore, my beloved brethren,
be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the
Lord, knowing that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." (1
"For God is not unjust to forget your work and labour of love
which you have shown toward His name, in that you have
ministered to the saints, and do minister." (Heb 6:10).
"And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold
water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall
by no means lose his reward." (Mat 10:42).
Even the person who comes to the Lord at the eleventh hour of
the day to serve the Lord in His vineyard, will receive his wages
exactly like the others. There is a dangerous warning by St.
James concerning this work "Therefore, to him who knows to
do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." (James 4:17).
So, sin is not only doing evil, but neglecting good deeds, hiding
the talent in the ground is sinful (Matt 25:24).
A person may excuse himself and say "I don't know how to
This person reminds me of Jeremiah the Prophet, who said to
the Lord "...I cannot speak, for I am a youth." (Jer 1:6). But
the Lord rebuked him saying "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' For
you shall go to all to whom I send you, And whatever I
command you, you shall speak." (Jer 1:7). This initial refusal
to serve is also like Moses who said to God "Then Moses said
to the LORD, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before
nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of
speech and slow of tongue." (Ex 4:10), and again "....Behold, I
am of uncircumcised lips, and how shall Pharaoh heed me?"
(Ex 6:30). In spite of this, God did not accept all these excuses.
God knows all the gifts He has given us, He knows us mentally.
Therefore, we have no grounds to stand on when denying our
ability to serve the Lord. We will have to give an account for
every gift given to us including those we did not use to serve
the Lord. The Lord Himself says "For everyone to whom
much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom
much has been committed, of him they will ask the more."
(Luke 12:48). If we say "we have no gifts", He will tell you,
work according to whatever gifts you have. As much as you
are able, give one, two or five talents (Matt 25). Do not just
stand there doing nothing. Think about your life and what you
can offer - God created you for a purpose, to be a member of
His Body. Just as every member in our body is constantly
working, so every member in Christ's body should be working.
So, we have to work, even if we have poor gifts, it is said by
our Lord ".......you were faithful over a few things, I will make
you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.'"
(Mat 25:21). God doesn't care about how much we are doing,
He only cares about our honesty in working with what we have.
Let your ministry be full of hope, even if the fruits appear much
later, never give up or think we are not gifted but "Cast your
bread upon the waters, For you will find it after many days."
EEE MAY GOD BLESS YOUR SERVICE EEE
In This Book
In the Name of the
Father, the Son and the
Holy Spirit, One God
Pope Shenouda III
- BACK TO MAIN MENU
- THE SPIRITUAL MINISTRY
- CHAPTER ONE: WHAT IS THE SPIRITUAL MINISTRY?
- 1. The Ministry Is Love:
- 3. The Servant Gives Spiritual Nourishment:
- 4. Ministry Is Holy Zeal:
- 5. The Ministry Is A Bridge Between God And People:
- 6. Ministry Is The Work Of Angels And The Apostles:
- 7. Ministry Is Payment For A Debt:
- 8. Ministry Is An Obligation:
- 9. Ministry Is A Scale, A Talent And A Responsibility:
- 10. Ministry Is Being A Good Example And Caring:
- 11. Ministry Is Fullness And Over Flowing:
- 12. Ministry Is A Way Of Life, Transferring From One Person To Another:
- 13. Ministry Is A Working Power:
- 14. Ministry Is Spirit, Not A Formal Work:
- 15. Ministry Is A Means Towards Spiritual Growth:
- CHAPTER TWO: THE PLACE OF GOD IN THE MINISTRY
- 1. Ministry Is The Humbleness Of God:
- 2. God Invites Us To The Ministry:
- 3. God Is The Speaker In The Ministry:
- 4. God Gives Us Power To Influence Our Listeners:
- Examples In Teaching:
- CHAPTER THREE: HUMILITY IN THE MINISTRY
- A Servant:
- The Apostles Were Also Called Ministers:
- Humility In Teaching:
- Humility In Our Lives:
- CHAPTER FOUR: EVALUATING SUCCESSFUL MINISTRY
- Incorrect Evaluation Of The Ministry:
- Elements of Successful Ministry
- CHAPTER FIVE: THE SPIRITUAL MINISTER
- The Real Servant:
- Spiritual Ministers:
- The Spiritual Minister Always Works: