Rev. Dr. DeForest B. Soaries spoke about the connection between happiness and servanthood when he was the keynote speaker at Pillar College’s Sixth Annual Pastor’s Appreciation Breakfast in October at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark.
“We want to acknowledge and thank pastors for their leadership in local churches,” said Dr. Wayne Dyer, Pillar College’s Vice President of Strategic Alliances. “We would like to say thank you for standing in the gap and being faithful.”
Following a buffet breakfast, the Salvation Army Brass Ensemble led worship with three songs that built to a rousing crescendo among the pastors: “How Great Thou Art” “In Christ Alone” and “How Great Is our God.”
Soaries, who served as Secretary of State for New Jersey under Governor Christine Todd-Whitman, is the senior pastor at First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset. At the breakfast, he preached from John 13, calling the passage where Jesus washes the disciples feet “the ultimate image of servant leadership.”
Soaries said happiness and servanthood are linked, quoting John 13:17: “If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” (King James Version)
“According to Jesus, if you want to be happy take on the position or posture of a servant,” he said. “Serving is a condition for happiness, but not in a legalistic way.”
The concept of leadership has been misunderstood and perverted in current times, Soaries explained.
“Just because someone has a title, that does not make them a leader,” he said. “A servant puts a towel on their waist and washes people’s dirty feet… Some are too busy trying to impress. I can’t impress you and serve you at the same time. Jesus wasn’t too busy to see the dust on the disciple’s feet. We are so busy sometimes that we miss the dirt on the feet of people right next to us.”
Jesus humility and assurance of His standing as God’s son, gave him the capability to wash the feet of those who would betray him. Likewise, we must wash the feet of those whom we serve, even those oppose us, Rev. Soaries said.
“Jesus knew who He was. He washed the feet of all 12 disciples, even Judas, who would betray him. He knew he would be stabbed in the back…”
“All of us have experience with that. And that is why this [Pastor’s Appreciation Breakfast] is appreciated.”
Dr. David Schroeder, president of Pillar College, thanked the men and women of God in attendance and was appreciative of the relationships the college has made with 40 churches through its Church Partnership Program.
“Thank you servants of God. We appreciate you,” Schroeder said. “You are the salt and light that Jesus said we should be in the world. We are grateful to partner with you.”
For more information about Pillar College, New Jersey’s only accredited, four-year Christian College, visit www.pillar.edu.