Servant Leadership: the Not-So-Fully-Paid Delivery Men

Servant leadership takes thick skin and a soft heart.

James Yoder, ordination weekend

Last Sunday evening Lloyd was ordained as the pastor of our church. Somewhere about the time of the reading of the charge of ordination, I found tears spilling unexpectedly out of my eyes. Images reeled through my head, a tumbling mess of Christmas gatherings and prayer meetings and new bikes and the little white mulch truck.

It’s been a wild ride since I moved to Elkhart in the fall of 2013. When I moved to Elkhart, the only people in the area from our church were Lloyd and Bev and Brad. The Laurel Street girls moved soon, and then Reuben. After awhile Justin married Laura and they moved in. We acquired some people through marriage – Marnell, then Carmen, then Jeff & Louisa. Slowly our group expanded to the high count of 14, soon to be 15 with the next wedding. (Congrats Mike and Wilma!)

Images on my mental reel

  • Elkhart Christmas 2014 (I think) was a small gathering on Laurel Street. Somewhere along the line, Lloyd passed out envelopes. Gift certificates to a local bike shop fell into our laps. So we all went bike shopping together and bought bikes. Nice bikes. I think a few of us biked home from Goshen to Elkhart, although that memory is foggy.
  • Countless meals around Lloyd and Bev’s long dining table (pass the hot pickled peppers please). A lot of us were single and rarely cooked anything decent, and Bev’s cooking was like balm in Gilead. Also, their house was often the only one big enough to fit. So we met there. Planning church. Having church. Praying.
  • One time during the stress of my hospital job, I remember Lloyd reminding me that sometimes God takes us through certain experiences to help us grow, even though we don’t see the logic at the time. I needed to hear that. It helped mold my thought processes through the remainder of my time in heart surgery.
  • The little white truck. In the spring when landscaping needs an update, we just kind of assume that Lloyd will come to our rescue with a truck bed full of mulch or rock.

It has happened so often, we’ve almost forgotten that Lloyd is not a fully paid mulch delivery man.

Just this morning, Lloyd brought the rest of our rocks. The rocks had cost $134.82, and Marnell said, “Is $150 okay?”

“Well, yes, but $134.82 is okay,” Lloyd said. “It really doesn’t cost me anything.”

“It cost you something to buy the truck,” I pointed out from my position beside a tree where I was using a hatchet on a mess of ground roots.

“But I got a good deal on that, too,” Lloyd said.

Well, our church got a good deal last weekend.

I hope that we don’t get calloused in our view of Lloyd’s service to the church, in the same way that we assume our mulch will show up in the spring. Alas, that’s how pastors often get treated. We forget they are not fully paid wisdom delivery men.

We see them serve or preach -often without much reimbursement, in the Anabaptist world- and we don’t think about it. It’s been years, maybe, since they were ordained and maybe we just accept that they do more for the church than anyone else. Yes, we sleep in on Sunday, and yes the pastor got up at 3 to finish his sermon along with working a 50-hour week. But why would we thank him for getting out of bed while we were snoozing? In today’s world, respecting pastors – or any kind of authority – isn’t cool. It’s more in vogue to discuss how pastors are out of touch, unloving and legalistic.

God help us! And God, help our pastors, and especially Lloyd as he begins this journey.

Lloyd in blue with the little white truck and the Wednesday evening Brady Street gang.

7 thoughts on “Servant Leadership: the Not-So-Fully-Paid Delivery Men”

    1. Katrina Hoover Lee

      Thanks Janice! That’s the best compliment I could get as a writer, I think. Blessings in your ministry.

  1. You are blessed to have a tradition of lay pastors in place. My husband and I would love to find some fellow believers who follow this or a similar method.

    1. Katrina Hoover Lee

      That’s a good perspective, Christy, and I do hope you find some likeminded believers! It isn’t without challenges for those lay ministers, but we do find it to be both a reliable and a Biblical system.

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