When I joined the community, I’d heard a number of times, the words – Household Servant. Now to me, those two words didn’t go together. I know the meaning of a household and I know the meaning of a servant. But what is a household servant? I asked one of the community members and she went on to explain – It is referred to those who lead the community in different ways. There are household servants, chapter servants, country servant and so on. The term servant was used because they are servants of Christ, serving Him to build His kingdom. “Ah, okay” I remember nodding my head as if it made sense to me. But in my mind, I was, “Erm… ok, this is a little weird!” I didn’t want to be any servant.
Fast forward to 23rd February 2019. Here I was, excitedly waiting for the CFCI Singles Servants Training Program to start! I had made sure, I kept that weekend free to be at the venue, NBCLC (Bangalore) to attend the program. I had the eagerness of a school kid to learn. My “classmates” had joined us from Chennai, Mangalore, Pune, Mumbai, Gurgaon and Bangalore. We were a brady bunch of 50!
Joshua Cordeiro kick-started the program with a refresher of our Vision & Mission. Do you remember them from your good old DOP days? Can you say it by-heart without missing a word? Let me help you –
We are the Heralds of God’s Kingdom, anointed by the Spirit sent forth by Christ, to make disciples of all people by sharing the Good News of life, love and family.
The session reminded us of our call to go out, spread the word of God, and gather His flock. We are called to be His disciples and make disciples. And to make disciples, we should first become a disciple. A disciple is someone who learns, follows and imitates Christ. Three key characteristics of a disciple are
- Zealous for God
- Restless for Souls.
A disciple is passionate about Jesus. A person who works single-mindedly to build God’s kingdom and does not rest until they bring souls closer to God.
What followed was an activity that warmed our hearts. Each of our chapters sat in groups and took turns to tell each other – what we are thankful for in that person, how we can work together better and what we would pray for them. There were smiles (and a few tears) all over the room as everyone generously complimented and thanked each other. It reminded us how good it feels to be appreciated, and not to undermine the positivity that can stir up within us! A little appreciation can go a long way in motivating and guiding members.
Ehrlson D’souza laid out to us the roles, responsibilities, and qualities of a household servant. And ensuring household meetings happen regularly is just one of their many responsibilities. Household servants have to be the elder sibling to the members of their household and ensure that the household is in good health. They need to be connected to them personally and guide them in their spiritual journey. And to be able to be a spiritual mentor, their walk with God should first be strong.
The next session – “Nuts and Bolts of a Household Meeting” was delivered by Biron D’souza, where he dwelled into the mechanics of organizing and conducting a household meeting. Setting a solid structure to the meetings will make the experience more fruitful. Fellowship, praise and worship, announcements and sharing are integral tools of every meeting that would enable the smooth functioning of this process.
Sharing, in particular, is where the household servant should try to elicit and bring to light the struggles of the members, so that the light of Christ may shine on their lives. Words of encouragement and requests for prayers should be the norm between the members as they share their life. The household reminds us that our journey with God need not be travelled alone, but together in fellowship. This is also where the role of ‘Accountability Partners’ are important to steer each other in the direction of God.
Andrea D’souza’s session that followed, on how to have effective ‘one on ones’ with household members, would be remembered for its impromptu roleplays! Participant names were called out for a series of “one on ones gone-wrong” themed enactments. This is where one on ones did not go on as it ideally should have. Either the household servant was not leading the conversation well, or the household member did not cooperate in having the conversation. In all the role plays, the HH servants were expected to handle different real-life scenarios where they had to have one on one’s with their HH member to explore an issue, understand a struggle, or provide correction.
By the end of the role plays, we understood that the best one on ones began with making the member feel comfortable and at ease, without diving right into the topic. The tone and attitude of the HH servant need to imitate Christ, with that of gentleness and love. While they begin and end with a short prayer, the HH servant should continue to intercede for them even after the discussion.
The last part of the day had a solemn note as all of us sought forgiveness. As we work together as a community, we may have unintentionally hurt each other. During this time, we asked forgiveness from those whom we hurt, and forgave those who hurt us. We did this while humbling ourselves and washing the feet of that person. God wants His children to treat each other with kindness and compassion, just like He loves us unconditionally. As members of a community that works to build His kingdom, we should continuously strive to keep our hearts and minds clear of any unforgiveness.
Bradley Carvalho taught us the nuances of ‘How to help Members Grow’. He reminded us that words of encouragement can go a long way. Remember to appreciate HH members, for example, the ones who regularly attend meetings, serve relentlessly, and are committed to their covenant. While those who are going through a rough patch need to be motivated and reaffirmed that they have the household to support them. It is also the duty of the HH servants to correct the members with love, so they grow better. They are also to be open and receptive to correction from their Formators. As the saying goes, ‘The best-bloomed trees are the best-pruned trees’.
The program ended on Sunday evening with Holy Mass celebrated by Fr. Gerard Solomon. The two days of Household Servants Training was a deep dive into not just what the role encompasses, but was also a reminder that our higher calling is that of discipleship. To be a disciple, and gather more disciples for Jesus. It is not an easy responsibility. There may be times when it gets challenging, especially when we have our own struggles to battle. But it is possible if we draw the strength from God, lean on Him, learn from Him, and just love Him.
As I was writing this article, my 12-year old niece walked in and read the training book I was referring to. She read the title and in her innocence, she burst out laughing! “Servants Training?! You went to train to be a servant?!” Her reaction made me laugh as well! “A servant is someone who leads people to Jesus,” I tried to explain to her, “They are the ones who serve God and build His kingdom.” As our laughter subsided to giggles she said, “Ah, okay” nodding her head as if it made sense to her.