My formative years were impacted by a few partnership models. Because of God’s calling upon my life, one of those models definitely did more than all the others in shaping me for service — the partnership I witnessed among the Nazarene pastors who ministered on the islands where I lived during my youth.
My first Christlike role model was a pastor. I observed how he and his colleagues related to each other. They helped in tangible ways, such as finding jobs for me and assisting me with access to education. Most importantly, however, they impressed on me a way of life that I believe discourages dependence and encourages empowerment.
Manus manum lavat is a phrase attributed to Seneca. It means “one hand washes the other.” People’s wisdom has added “and together they wash the face.”
The apostle Paul asks the Philippians to “complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:2–5, ESV).
Our world still looks for models of oneness. Sometimes tired or skeptical minds think it is nowhere to be found. Is it because they have not been impacted by what “is [ours] in Christ Jesus”? We can boldly claim what is ours for the purpose it was entrusted to us. Despite living in a world where hatred and indecorum are prevalent in action and discourse, we believe in, and therefore we act, according to the mind of Christ that unites and empowers the church for goodness, peace, and love.
No matter how beaten up, misjudged, criticized, and even excluded you are, with the mind of Christ and the help of a Christlike role model, you can still “look to the interests of others.”
Dr. Eugénio R. Duarte is a general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene with an office at the Global Ministry Center in Lenexa, Kansas, USA. A native of Cape Verde, Africa, he was chosen for the highest elected office in the church in 2009 at the 27th General Assembly held in Orlando, Florida, USA. At the time of his election, Dr. Duarte was serving as the Africa regional director for the denomination.