“We want you to have a seat at the table”. Have you heard this talked about in ministry? It’s really being used in business jargon alot these days and I’ve seen countless books that address this for the underdogs or marginalized workers. I have heard this phrase recently. It has baffled me really. Of course there are questions that naturally arise. Where is this “table”? And then naturally I’m inclined to ask: Is there food? Who else is at the table? How do I get invited? Why would I want a seat at this table?
In some research I found, the term refers to access to a power structure, a voice of influence, or equal treatment. How is this any different than trying to sit with the cool kids? Here is what I have learned in my 13+ years of church ministry.
1. There’s always another table at another level from where you are sitting.
2. I’ve found that often times, people who have made it to “the table” forget to get up and get work done.
So for my friends who are serving in ministry and you think you have no seat at the table, take a seat for a second—I’ve got great news for you.
There’s a better table!
There are over 76 verses in the bible regarding the word table. It should come of no surprise that the disciples themselves had an argument about the power table. Jesus has something to say to them and this spoke to me as well:
LUKE 22:24-26 (MSG) Within minutes they were bickering over who of them would end up the greatest. But Jesus intervened: “Kings like to throw their weight around and people in authority like to give themselves fancy titles. It’s not going to be that way with you. Let the senior among you become like the junior; let the leader act the part of the servant.
27–30 “Who would you rather be: the one who eats the dinner or the one who serves the dinner? You’d rather eat and be served, right? But I’ve taken my place among you as the one who serves. And you’ve stuck with me through thick and thin. Now I confer on you the royal authority my Father conferred on me so you can eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and be strengthened as you take up responsibilities among the congregations of God’s people.
Friends, no matter where you are in leadership, as a Christ follower our “table” already has been set with our name place. We don’t have to strive to get there. In fact, we don’t deserve a seat at this table, but Christ made a way for us to come to the table—not as a guest with no voice—but with royal authority to eat and drink at the table of God. But notice—it’s not to sit there for power, but to be strengthened in order to go and serve God’s people.
And as Christ is talking to His disciples, He reminds them of the posture and seat He has taken—it is that of the servant. He literally turned the table over and dropped the mic on this power struggle. So what does this mean for us today?
Fight the urge for advancement or working your way up the ladder. That’s for a corporate setting—that’s not for the church. SERVE THE CHURCH! I find the most joy and blessing when I give my life away in ministry and not in trying to appease people in order to get a seat at someone’s earthly table.
Know that you have been given a seat at the table and it is from Christ Himself. Do not get caught up in intertwining your gifts, calling, and passions in pursuing the next level. Simply keep pursuing that which you were designed to do for Him. When I begin to loose steam and think I’m supposed to quit, I begin to hear more clearly the things that drain me and the things that fuel me. It’s when I am with teen girls and young adult women and those who are passionate about leading and loving them that I hear a “Holy Yes” and know I’m supposed to keep moving in that direction. Don’t let those things get lost in ministry. If you do, you’ll find yourself at someone’s table serving someone other that Christ.