BACK TO RELIGIOUS SHORT STORIES PAGE
The Parable of
THE WATCHFUL SERVANTS
Reverend Roberts had begun his ministry just two years ago, and he already found himself in over his head. In retrospect, it had all begun when he succumbed to the initial pressure from his mother.
“Your uncle needs a job. Why don’t you hire him?” she had said.
It seemed like a good idea at the time. Unfortunately, his uncle simply was not qualified to manage the ministry’s budget. Within six months, funds were missing and the records were a mess. Suspicion fell upon Reverend Roberts’ uncle. There were rumors that he had a gambling addiction, but it was impossible to prove anything without a paper trail. Even the Reverend had his doubts about his uncle, but was loathe to fire him, since it would undoubtedly cause a rift in the family, thereby shifting the limelight to himself,
Meanwhile, Reverend Roberts had discrepancies of his own. He developed a habit of taking credit on the coattails of others; none of the fund-raising events were his ideas, nor did he have any part in them, yet he claimed the glory in front of the podium during Sunday services.
There were other things out of order as well. He had hired other family members who were also unqualified for their jobs. His sister was the secretary of the ministry, yet she was poorly organized.
His cousin was inept at conducting the music, and his aunt played the organ poorly; the choir suffered as a result. There were other friends and relatives in the organization who were likewise incompetent. Most of them lacked dedication, and they occupied positions that would otherwise have been filled by proficient, enthusiastic people. Although Reverend Roberts knew about the inherent troubles of nepotism, he was unwilling to make the necessary changes.
When his ministry began to accumulate wealth, his family and friends encouraged the Reverend to give himself a salary, and bonuses which he used for vacations. Due to his frequent absences, he decided to hire an acolyte fresh out of Bible College. The young Reverend was more than eager to assume the responsibilities. However, he had no knowledge of the internal problems the ministry was already suffering. When he eventually became confused about why some positions were filled by seemingly incompetent people, he trusted the older Reverend’s judgment in retaining them. Actually, Reverend Roberts was content to merely wait things out.
However, there was one consideration that he didn’t take into account. He assumed he had all the time in the world. Yet that didn’t allow for the possibility that the Lord of the House might return at an hour at which Reverend Roberts was unprepared to give a reckoning of his stewardship. For that reason, his guilt shook him to the core when he witnessed the Lord appearing to him one day when he was in the chapel with the other Reverend. Although he was right next to him, the younger Reverend was apparently not privy to the vision that was right before them, for he neither saw nor heard the voice of the Lord.
“This is My House”, the Lord told Reverend Roberts, “yet you have allowed it to become a den of thieves.”
There was no need to say more. At once, the consequences of Reverend Roberts’ choices involving the ministry came to him in full clarity. He had no one else but himself to blame. Reverend Roberts had the urge to rip his priestly garments from himself and drop to his knees before the Lord. “I’m sorry”, he said, with tears streaming down his face. “Please forgive me.” The young Reverend looked at him with curiosity.
After the vision, the Reverend slowly gathered his wits about him. When he stopped shaking, he stood up and looked around at the empty seats in the chapel. In his mind’s eye, he pictured the faces of his congregation looking up at him with trust in their eyes.
He set his jaw, and with determination, decided he would no longer let them down. As the scriptures said, “God’s House is a House of order”. It was not going to be easy, but he resolved to use the wonder of his spiritual experience and the burning of his guilt to return the chapel to a House of the Lord.
THE WATCHFUL SERVANTS (Luke 12:35-40,47)
“Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; and yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.”