She was a humble servant.
Every week, she sat at the church piano and played beautiful music as the congregation sang along. She didn’t demand attention or praise, but without her, it would’ve been difficult to worship during services. For weeks, months, and years, she served faithfully.
But I don’t know if she was thanked for her service.
Where to Find the Neglected Servants
Sadly, Christians can fall into the mentality that center stage matters most. We focus on center stage, not behind-the-scenes. We praise individuals’ talents, not God’s gifting. We compliment skill, not service. We notice knowledge, not faithfulness.
We don’t thank the mom who plays energetically with first-graders every Sunday morning, even when she’s exhausted. We don’t notice the little old lady who decorates the church for Christmas and Easter, even though she’s aging. We don’t pay attention to the boy who wakes up early every Saturday morning to mow the church lawn, even when his friends want to hang out. We don’t appreciate the elderly man who prepares communion every month, even when he doesn’t feel well.
Center-stagers, like pastors, worship leaders, Bible study teachers, and ministry directors, are often in the spotlight. Behind-the-sceners, like those who work in the sound booth, organize children’s ministries, and order supplies for activities, are often in the background. Both center-stagers and behind-the-sceners can be used by God in amazing ways.
But it’s so easy to neglect the behind-the-sceners because they work in the background.
Serving the Master Wherever We Serve
In His parable of the talents, Jesus explained how a man entrusted his three servants with different amounts of money (Matthew 25:14-15). While two of them used their master’s money wisely, one of the servants simply buried the money he’d been given (25:16-18).
Jesus then noted how the master responded to his servants’ work: “And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master’…But his master answered him [the third servant], ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents’” (Matthew 25:20-23, 26-28 ESV)
I know this passage is lengthy, but it’s so relevant to the topic of faithfulness. When the master returned from his journey, he told the first two servants, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (vv. 21, 23, emphasis mine). He didn’t use words like “attractive,” “entertaining,” or “skilled.” He was pleased with the servants who wisely used his talents and was very displeased with the servant who squandered his talent.
Noticing—and Becoming—Faithful Servants
This parable isn’t necessarily about center-stagers and behind-the-sceners, but we can certainly apply it to this topic. The point of the parable is faithfulness—constancy, reliability, diligence, good stewardship.
I don’t want you to think that pastors, teachers, worship leaders, and other center-stagers aren’t serving God. They are! But behind-the-sceners are serving God, too.
All Christians have a “talent”—a skill, resource, or ability—that is from God. Of course, we need to use these talents to expand His kingdom, even when that means serving in the background. We also need to recognize those who serve in the background and thank them for serving.
Challenge: This week, I encourage you to find one servant at your church who is rarely noticed. Perhaps it is a cleaner, a gardener, a food preparer, or a children’s teacher. Thank them for their service and encourage them to continue serving faithfully.