“There it is again,” Mike complained. “Ever since old brother Grumpsalot told me, ‘Learn what it means to spell “Minister” with a little ‘s,’ I just can’t pass up the word without wondering what in the world he meant! I wish he had never said that to me.”
Mike laid the bulletin template down to think more about what needed to go into it this week. There on the front page it was: “Mike Gladly, Minister. John Fine, Associate Minister.” And there, just inside the first page: “If you have any special needs, please don’t hesitate to call either of the Ministers. They are always Fine and Gladly will work with or pray for you!”
“What did that old buzzard mean anyway: little ‘s’?!” It drove Mike crazy! Well, not actually “crazy”; it just aggravated him because he couldn’t understand the message. It might have been alright if it hadn’t also been Grumpsalot who challenged them all to stop “going to church” and “just be the church.” “What kind of idea is that?!” Mike pondered.
“Last Sunday morning, just last Sunday morning, I was introducing myself to visitors from the pulpit, and stumbled over the words! ‘I want to welcome you to our . . . to the . . . to this . . . gathering of the church.’ Wow! That was hard! Then I said, ‘My name is Mike Gladly. I am a Min . . . a . . . er . . s-s-s . . . the . . . one of the Ministers for the ch . . . group.’ Those words were just RINGING in my head! Those people must have thought I was some kind of stuttering fool! Didn’t know my own name or where I was or what I was doing! AARRGH! He’s got me tongue-tied!”
“Well, I have to get this bulletin out or we just won’t have one tomorrow!”
Mike went on organizing the articles and announcements in the bulletin, somewhat absent-mindedly, distracted over this whole thing. Shortly, the phone rang. Mike answered and found old Widow Gracelin calling for help with her washing machine. It was famous for quitting on her at the most inopportune times!
“I’ll see about finding someone to help you with that Mrs. Gracelin,” Mike said gently. “Someone will be there within an hour. Is that alright?”
Try as he might, Mike could find not one person who was available to help out. It was a busy weekend for many but it was really unusual for EVERYONE to be tied up. “Oh, well,” Mike sort of sniffed, “I’ll just go over and see what I can do with that washer. I don’t know a thing about them, but they can’t be that hard to get going.”
Widow Gracelin was really a sweet lady and Mike didn’t mind helping, but he did have a lot to do to be ready for tomorrow morning. It was Sunday again. He shuddered just to think about LAST Sunday!
“The Lord blessed us both, Mrs. Gracelin,” Mike said, finishing up. It was just that kink in the hose that was keeping the water from filling your washer. I think I got it fixed so that won’t happen again. If it does, just give me a call. OK?”
“You really are a dear, Sweetie. Thank you for your help. That’s being a real servant. I know you are busy today,” she offered graciously.
Mike whistled as he left; something unusual for him. He realized he hadn’t spent much time with the people of the congregation lately, especially the less mobile ones. Too busy teaching classes and planning sermons and writing articles: “the work of the Minister” was the title of the class addressing all those things he had to accomplish as “the Minister.”
As he was picking up the bulletin to find what he needed to do next, Joy, his 12-year old daughter breezed by him, humming a familiar tune. Mike tuned in, but couldn’t get the words. “Oh, well,” he dismissed his struggle, “I’ll catch it later.”
But now he was stuck with a melody in his head without words. Old brother Grumpsalot’s words, on the one hand, troubling him, and a wordless tune, on the other! “How can I focus?!” He threw down his pen and bolted out of the office.
As he cleared the doorway, Joy met him. “Daddy, can you help me with my homework, just a little bit, please?”
Irritated as he already was, Mike began his aggitated reply, “Oh sure! What exactly do you think I am,” he said, nearly shouting, “your s – s – s-e-r-v . . .” His voice suddenly dwindled to a mere whisper. “Your servant?” “Your minister?” “Your servant?”
Over and over, Mike repeated the words, the light dawning in his mind and heart! “Learn how to spell ‘Minister’ with a little “s.”
With abnormal grace, Mike fell on his knees before his daughter and threw his arms around her neck, pulling her to himself.
“Thank you, Joy. You have just opened my eyes. And you don’t even know how or why. Of course, I’ll help you with your homework. And, Sweetie, I’m really sorry that I shouted at you. Can you please forgive me?”
Joy hugged her Daddy back, with enthusiasm.
“Joy. What was that song you were humming just a few minutes ago when you walked by me,” Mike asked.
“You know that song, Daddy. It goes like this:
‘Make me a servant, Lord, make me like you. For you were a servant, Make me one, too. Mold me and make me, Do what you must do, To make me a servant; Make me like you.’ ”Having helped Joy with her studies, Mike returned to complete the bulletin with new vigor and life. The first thing to be done was to change the template - for good. The first page, unfettered, now read:
“John Fine and Mike Gladly, servants among servants,
ministers spelled with a ‘little “s”.’
How may we serve you?”
“For the son of man came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
“I have given you an example, that you may do as I have done unto you. Truly . . . a servant is not greater than his Lord.”
Hamstrung – To disable by cutting the great tendon at the back of the hock; cripple; to render powerless or useless; thwart.