I enjoy listening to Christian radio, and I recently listened to a provocative devotion titled “Donkey Duty.” It got me thinking about church ministry and all the seemingly unglorified duties that our church workers do every day for the glory of God.
If you are unfamiliar with the term donkey duty, let me explain it. In Matthew 21, Jesus asks two disciples to go into town for a colt and a donkey. The Bible doesn’t even name the disciples who went on this less-than-glamorous task.
“Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” (Matthew 21:1-3 ESV)
There’s really nothing cool about donkey duties. In fact, I’m certain we could make some pretty off-color jokes about it! The bottom line is that this task was not nearly as exciting as collecting twelve baskets of bread left over after the miracle feeding of the five thousand, and it was nothing compared to hauling in a net bursting with 153 fish!
I imagined myself as one of these two unnamed disciples. I probably would have been bummed out to be chosen for a donkey-seeking mission instead of being sent out to minister to the sick or to spread the Good News. This was grunt work. This was ordinary, not extraordinary, work.
In our churches, we have people who are called to donkey duty. They are the behind-the-scenes folks who show up to set up and stay late to clean up. They make copies, or coffee, or lunch runs. They stack the chairs or wash the floors. They turn off the lights and lock the doors.
Their work is necessary. But are they appreciated?
How often do we help our folks to see the glory in the ordinary? In Matthew 21 when Jesus asked these two unnamed disciples to get a colt and a donkey, they were actually helping to fulfill a prophecy!
“Say to the Daughter of Zion,
‘Behold your king is coming to You,
humble, and mounted on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden’” (Matthew 21:5 ESV)
There is honor in changing copier ink, light bulbs, and even diapers.
As we go about our day in our respective ministries, let’s not forget to acknowledge the servant hearts we have all around us. Let’s encourage all of them to see miracles in their donkey duties and glory in the ordinary.