Sacrificial Ministry

“It’s a different Greek word,” my friend said.  “This is a different word for ‘ministry’ than the one most commonly used.”
I looked it up, and he’s right.  The Greek word is leitourgeo, and it means something different than the more common diakonia, which implies service in general.  According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, leitourgeo is “a public office which a citizen undertakes to administer at his own expense.”
It’s a noble thing to perform acts of service with no motive for financial gain..  The New Testament speaks of such sacrificial service, and more than that, Paul calls himself a bond slave for Christ (Philippians 1:1, Titus 1:1), admitting not only that he serves, but that he also feels bound as a slave to a life of service.
But a leitourgeo type of ministry is even more sacrificial; a case where a person not only performs works of service, but pays for it himself.
Quite often such works of service are of the under-the-radar variety.  Recently I attended a family conference.  Two small churches were the sponsors.  The pastor provided the necessary leadership and deserved every accolade afforded him, but I was reminded that he was being paid to minister.  Nothing wrong with that, given Paul’s statement that “the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel” (I Corinthians 9:4 NKJV).  But standing behind him was a small army of dedicated leitourgeo types whose sacrificial service made the weekend work.  These sometimes anonymous people busied themselves behind the scenes for the rest of us, and it cost them of their own time, talent, and treasure to do so.
Scripture tells us that it is this very type of service that Jesus performed and is performing for us.  It says that he has obtained a more excellent ministry (leitourgeo), and that he is a mediator of a better covenant, based upon better promises (Hebrews 8:6).  Doesn’t it make sense that we should perform the same kind of service for each other?
So to all the leitourgeo servants out there, thank you for your sacrificial love.
Lenny C.


Excerpted from The Sabbath Morning Companion, December, 28, 2007, by Lenny Cacchio. All rights reserved.