In his reflections on Jesus’ call to mutual service, Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Life Together, Harper & Row), suggested that every Christian community must confront the ambitious wrangling that set the apostles, James & John at odds with the other disciples. Bonhoeffer called the desire for position and greatness “the struggle of the natural person for self-justification” whereby a person compares themselves with others and judges or condemns them.
Bonhoeffer suggested certain modes of ministry or service that will edify and encourage holy and wholesome community life. 1) the service of holding one’s tongue so as to prevent undo scrutiny, criticism and domination while allowing the other to grow freely in God’s image rather than mine. 2) the service of humility that places the honor, opinion and well-being of another before my own. 3) the service of listening that does not listen with only half an ear or presumes to know what the other has to say but listens carefully and attentively, as if with the ears of God. 4) the service of active helpfulness that remembers nobody is too good for service to others. 5) the service of bearing one another’s burdens in a way that does not make the other person feel like a burden. 6) the service of proclaiming of communicating consolation and speaking the truth of God’s ways in the seasons of human experience. When these are in place then we are following the call to service.