He is Useful to Me for Ministry
by Fr Anthony St Shenouda
When we speak of the apostles we generally speak of their achievements and successes. This is often not the full story. St Mark, who was a young man, had his fair share of failures at the beginning of his ministry. In the gospel of Mark he tells us how he escaped the scene of Jesus’ crucifixion naked (Mark 14:50-52). As well as this, in the book of Acts we are told that Mark refused to go with the apostles because he seemed to have been homesick and preferred to return to his mum in Jerusalem. We know that this angered St Paul and made him refuse to take Mark with him to serve, in turn affecting St Mark’s reputation.
The incidences at the beginning of St Mark’s ministry affected his reputation within the church. St Paul had to send special instructions for the church to receive St Mark, recommending Mark for the service. St Paul stated “Mark the cousin of Barnabas, concerning whom you have received instructions – if he comes to you, receive him” (Col. 4:10) saving St Mark’s reputation in the church from going down the drain.
A lot of us may fall into this sort of situation at some point in our lives. A situation where we have made mistakes in the past and gotten a reputation for being lousy servants. This is a hurtful situation to be in, gaining a bad reputation from a single past experience. Despite the hurt, St Mark didn’t let this affect him. He became motivated to serve and his motivation never died out notwithstanding his personal weaknesses and external pressures. St Mark got back into service through a mentor, his cousin, Barnabas. He was a mentor who believed in him and his motivation for service, a mentor who saw past all his weaknesses and the opinions of men and brought him back into the service.
A few years later, after overcoming his weakness, we hear of St Mark’s many amazing achievements! He preached the gospel to Alexandria, Egypt and his account of the life of Jesus became the venerated second gospel. Above all this, the greatest achievement of all was that he was finally martyred in the name of Christ.
So if you may have stopped serving for any reason, or if something has happened in the past or something is still happening, like a clash with a well-respected servant like St Paul and St Mark, know that it is not the end of your story. There are many different areas in service where you can thrive and one day this well respected servant will say (about you) “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11).