We were recently asked by a group to discuss servanthood in Kairos. This is a complicated subject, but we have a few thoughts. From a biblical reference we might consider some of the elements of servanthood: submission to authority (1 Peter 2:13-17), labor(John 9:4), joy (John 15:11), peacefulness(John 14:27),faithfulness(Matthew 25:21), love (Gal 5:13),duty (Luke 17: 9-10), grace(1 Peter 4:10), kindness (2 Timothy 2: 24). The ultimate example was given to us by Christ when he modelled servanthood by washing his disciple’s feet (John 13:1-17). It is interesting that the Greek noun agape (love), and the verb agapao occur 31 times in John chapters 13-17.
Perhaps a genuine desire for servanthood starts with a more clear understanding of who we are. As Christians, we always have an evangelical desire to introduce others to Christ. We understand Christ as our Savior (Matthew 1:21). Sometimes it’s more difficult to understand Christ as our Lord (Micah 6:8). How can we be true servants unless Christ is also the Lord of our life?
Authentic Christians want Christ to be the Lord of our life. We pray for it; sometimes as we suffer the pains of life we are desperate for it – where Lord is the peace that you promised us (John 14:27)? Why are we so distracted by our “wants” in this world? Why do we so frequently find our personal identity in what we do, what we have, and what others think about us?What does it mean to be a Christian servant in an age of abundance with worldly distractions?
Ronald Sider in his book, Rich Christians In An Age of Hunger says, “… we must maintain a biblical balance. It is not because food, clothes, wealth, and property are inherently evil that Christians must lower their standard of living. It is because others are starving. Creation is good. But the one who gave us this gorgeous token of affection has asked us to share it with our sisters and brothers.”
Servanthood is about sharing God’s love with others. We are well equipped because God has given us gifts to serve others (1Peter 4:10-11.) The biggest stumbling block is our own sense of “who we are”. In Kairos Prison Ministry we understand ourselves to be a community of gift givers. We represent the various Christian denominations focused on common ground giving inmates the gift of seeing Christ’s love & forgiveness in our brokenness. Our Cursillo based program simply gives us the forum to demonstrate the power of God’s love in our lives – a power that can give them hope – hope which in the reality of their present confinement makes no sense. A hope which changes lives as they begin to understand God loves them, and has always been available to them simply for the asking (Rev 3:20).
Kairos volunteers complete team formation and enter the prison as a family of servants. They understand the need to be obedient to ministry and institutional policy. They understand each inmate has his or her own personal spiritual journey which needs to be respected. Inmates enter the weekend in an unpredictable spiritual condition and deserve the right to make their weekend free from manipulation or over zealous evangelical pressure. We are there to plant the seeds of a spiritual renewal and new hope. Their expression of that renewal and hope is personal to them – it is their spiritual journey not ours. We love them enough that we can let go and let God touch their hearts. We return monthly not to be their best friends, but simply to support their spiritual journey with encouragement. Naturally, it is our prayer that each candidate will find a life with Christ as the only total solution.
In Kairos we ask our volunteers not to add dynamics such as altar calls, baptism, communion, birthday celebrations, rose ceremonies, serenades or add to or take away from our program talks and meditations. These liturgal services are to be performed under the direction of their pastor, the prison chaplain. We ask our volunteers to be servants to the Kairos model. We ask our volunteer leadership to abide by existing institutional regulations and Kairos policies and procedures.As Kairos volunteers, we are no longer “what we do in the world” or “free to do our own thing” – we are gift givers – washing feet in servanthoodto Christ through Kairos Prison Ministry.