How to Wait on Tables ... or Pastor
- Friday, September 23, 2005
“Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business” (Acts 6:3).
Think about that! The apostles were looking for “men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom”—not to be pastors, but waiters! Could you or I, who are already ministers, wait tables for the Lord? Why would the Lord have such high standards for waiting tables?
There are many similarities between waiting tables and serving in the ministry. In fact, this passage compares the ministration of daily food to widows to the ministry of prayer and the Word of God—spiritual food to the Church.
While I was studying for the ministry at Bob Jones University, the Lord gave me a job waiting tables in a “fish camp” near Greer, South Carolina. A fish camp is an all-you-can-eat fish and seafood restaurant. My ministerial training included a great Bible education from a spiritual eat-all-you-want menu at BJU.
However, my training would have been incomplete, in my case, without the practical knowledge learned at the restaurant. In order to be a good waiter, one must not only want to make a living but also want to serve people. If you do not have a desire to serve people, then don’t become a waiter—or a minister.
That desire is the first thing mentioned in the requirements for the ministry. “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work” (I Timothy 3:1). Most men start into the ministry with that desire. In fact, most men start the ministry with the zeal of a car-chasing dog. I did! Have you ever seen one of those dogs? Do you think those dogs have ever seriously considered what they would do if they caught a car by the tire?
What happens to preachers? Where does the thrill of the chase go? Many preachers lose their desire for serving the Lord and His people shortly after they “catch the car.” They lose their unconditional love for the ministry. It turns out to be something different from what they had expected. People, things, and circumstances diminish their zeal, their desire.
One preacher told me that the ministry would be great if it were not for people and problems. But, there wouldn’t be any ministry if it weren’t for people and problems! Why don’t parents lose their love for their little baby? That little terror vomits on them, wets on them, breaks their valuable possessions, costs them tons of money, and keeps them up all night. Yet, Mom and Dad still love their baby, don’t they? Why?
Because their love is unconditional, and their desire to be good parents is the most sincere desire of their hearts. As parents, they endure everything out of their love for their child. My love for Christ, my love and desire for the ministry, and my love for the people sustain me, and the love of Christ for me constrains me (II Corinthians 5:14).
The same is true of waiting tables. You must love serving people. Waiting tables is not an easy task, and there are trials and tribulations.
(1) It is physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually demanding.
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