Service without power

Service without power

If you haven’t made it by 35, you never will

Always aim for the top

The intended message of the above career advice suggests that better outcomes can be achieved through ‘power over’ than the significance of ‘service to,’. How contradictory is the request of Jesus, “not to worry about (one’s) life, what (one) will eat…” Lk 12:22. Imagine the looks of family and friends, the disdain of professional colleagues and the personal demons of self-doubt if one were to announce to them these kingdom values of Jesus were indeed one’s genuine goals!!!

And yet Karl Rahner SJ describes St Ignatius’ discipleship as not only an identification with the ‘poor and humble Jesus’ but also a preparedness to ‘die with Jesus.’ Rahner proceeds to ponder, “what ‘poor and humble’ actually means in our time: (because they) must have social and political implications in secular society and in the church: (and) a critical sting, a dangerous memory of Jesus…”

The juxtaposition of power and service, the underpinning principle of Jesus’ ‘kingdom,’ was as confusing to his apostles as it is to us due to our shared preoccupation with prestige, honour, power and wealth. In the ‘real world’ who would want to exchange ‘power over’ for the insignificance of humble ‘service to’ the crippled, lepers, beggars, prostitutes and demoniacs who, for the Pharisees, were little more than a ‘rabble.’

An honest uttering of the Ignatian principle to, “choose actual and spiritual poverty for the greater service and praise” (98) of God, suggests a capacity to accept self, embrace God and allow the love of Jesus to flow through one-self and into others. How humbling it must have been for Jesus to say to the Father: “yet not what I want but what you want.” Mt 26:39.

Steve Jorgensen

(Image from Pixabay by sasint)