I wrote a blog article not long ago (The Secret Privilege of a Servant) on Jesus’ first miracle (John 2) and mentioned it is one of my favorite stories. One reason is because of something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. In that story Jesus includes the servants who were “standing by” in the process of the unfolding of the miracle. As they simply obey his instructions they witness firsthand something those who simply benefit from the miracle do not. In fact it says in John 2:9 in regard to the master of the banquet: “He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew.”
The day I began writing this, I met two very interesting people. Their names are not household names. But they are two people who have served on a “team” of those who are household names. Ever since I began the new ministry role I am in, I have suddenly found myself “backstage” seeing what really goes on “behind the scenes” in the world of missions and non-profit organizations. As a pastor I learned the daily pressures, challenges and attacks pastors face that most are not aware of. I realized through that time that leadership is not nearly as “glamorous” as some may think it is. You are constantly critiqued, criticized, questioned, misunderstood, slandered and even falsely accused by the very people you have been called to shepherd. It’s not an easy calling. It has its blessings and reward for sure; but things are often not as they may appear to be by others.
Likewise, I’ve realized the people we may “know” did not get there by themselves. Often behind the scenes are people who are “unknown” by the world but really are the “unsung heroes.” For example, most people do not know or could not name the person who led the famous evangelist D.L. Moody to the Lord. He may have led thousands to the Lord himself, but first he had to be led to the Lord by somebody! Another example is Peter, the disciple of Jesus. His name is well-known but what about his brother Andrew? It was Andrew who introduced Peter to Jesus! Or what about the names in the following verses? How many are you familiar with? Acts 20:3-4 says: “Because the Jews made a plot against him (Paul) just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia. He was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia.”
The only other name (besides the apostle Paul) that may be recognized is Timothy after whom two letters of the bible are addressed too! But what this reveals or reminds us of is that although they may not be recognized by man, they are recognized and remembered by God. It also reminds us that surrounding every “Paul” is a team that “accompanies” and assists him. It’s similar to the saying that beyond every great man is a great wife. There is often much truth to that and the same is true in ministry. These men surrounding Paul may be less “prominent” or “known” but not less important.
David is another name that is well-known in the bible. But David had mighty men who rallied around him (2 Samuel 23). Or take Mark 15:40-41. It tells us that near the cross as Jesus was being crucified were many women and that “Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses, and Salome. In Galilee these women had followed him and cared for his needs.” Luke 8:2-3 provides us more insight into how they cared for his needs. Verse 3 says: “These women were helping to support them out of their own means.”
Sometimes in the midst of the “spiritual” we forget the “practical.” Life doesn’t just “happen” any more than ministry just “happens.” For example, ministry costs money. Jesus was able to go around teaching, praying and ministering to others needs full-time, primarily because of these faithful women supporting and funding his ministry financially! Their names may not be as famous as Jesus and the twelve male disciples; but they were and their roles were nonetheless equally as essential and important.
Or think of it this way. Have you ever actually paid attention to all the names at the end of a movie during the credits? It is amazing how many people it takes to put a movie together! The actual “actors” may be the “famous” one’s that we all know and remember, but without all the other people doing their job and fulfilling their roles there would be no movie and therefore no job for actors!
I have great respect for the “unknown” or “unsung” hero’s out there, those I call the “servants” “behind the scenes.” They are the ones who makes the “magic” happen…or perhaps I should say are the ones used in practical ways by God in the process of miracles unfolding! I challenge you to be a servant today, one who is “standing by” ready to serve and simply do whatever Jesus instructs you to do, whether you are recognized for it or not!