What an honor it is for me to be here at Magnolia Missionary Baptist Church today for the installation of my good friend and ministerial colleague, the Rev. Dr. Francys Johnson.
Rev. Johnson asked for me to have some remarks here today about servant leadership. Of course, the model that most of us look to for a servant leader is Jesus. In Luke 22:27, we hear these words of Jesus as he teaches his disciples about servant leadership:
“Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves.”
Another example of a servant leader is the man you are installing today. Because he has been serving in this community for many years , many years before being called to the leadership of this church. And he will also be a model of service for you.
But I want to shift this discussion a little to say WHERE do we serve and WHOM do we serve?
Now, many of you are serving us here today. It takes a WHOLE lot of work to put something like this together. And we are SO appreciative of the great service and all of the WORK that you all have done. But I want to share a little story with you about the work of the church.
This story was told by an old preacher who grew up in the big city about a lesson he learned early in life. As a young adolescent, his parents wanted him to have some time out of the city experiencing life on a FARM - so they sent him one summer to live and work with his aunt and uncle. The Uncle got the boy up before dawn and told him to go out to the wood pile and chop the wood, stack it, and bring some in to fill up the wood bin by the stove. The boy was looking forward to his farm work and enthusiastically completed the job. He was quite tired though as he brought the wood to the house for the stove. So after putting it in the wood bin, he started back up the stairs to complete his sleep since it was barely morning. As he started up the steps, his Uncle pulled on his shirt sleeve and said, "Just where do you think you goin'. You ain't done no work yet."
"What do you mean - I haven't done any work? I been workin," explained the boy. "Why I chopped the wood and stacked the wood, and brought and filled up the wood bin by the stove - jest like you said."
"You still ain't done no work yet boy," the farmer said. "Let me 'splain somethin to you.
Any thing you do in the house or around the house or for the house - them there is CHORES. The WORK is in the fields."
Now sometimes after I’ve preached in church or played the piano or perhaps served a greeter or prepared refreshments for the social time, I want to pat myself on the back, and congratulate myself for doing the work of the church. But you know, anything we do in the Church, or around the Church, or for the Church – "them there's just Chores." They certainly need to be done. And they are scared and holy chores! But it's not the real work of the Church.
THE REAL WORK IS IN THE FIELD!!
In John 4:35, Jesus said:
Do you not say, four months more and then the harvest? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest!
And in Matthew 9:35-37, we find Jesus lamenting over the lack of workers in the fields:
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few."
Have things improved or do we still have a shortage of workers in the fields?
Where are the fields?
For some of us it may BE far-away places where we may help with disaster relief. But for most of us, the fields are in our homes, our work places and in our communities – especially among those of great need. Those are the places that we need to be working and serving. And we are thrilled that this church is already doing that and will do more under the leadership of this great servant, Rev. Francys Johnson.
Now some of us have served in this service today – lots of folks. And tonight as we climb those proverbial stairs, we may pat ourselves on the back and take pride in the work we've done. But we may just feel that tug on our sleeve and hear an inner voice that says, "Wait a minute Brandon. Wait a minute Johnny. Wait a minute Jane! You haven't done any work yet." I look forward to seeing many of you in the fields.
But today, I want to extend the right hand of fellowship to Rev. Johnson as he begins his professional ministry in Statesboro. He’s not new to Statesboro and not new to ministry – but he’s new to professional ministry in Statesboro. And I’m here to welcome him and look forward to lots of good serving together.