As I was giving a couple of workshops last week, it occurred to me that a helpful blog post might be the following:
My “TOP TEN!” in ministering to those who are hurting.
> First of all, I have learned that being in someone’s pain with them involves ‘being all there.’ God uses theory and practice, but God uses ME and God uses YOU! God wants me to listen to Him on the spot – to be available, to be used, and to be ministered TO all at the same time. I can do nothing on my own without His using me; however, “I can do ALL things through Him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
> I have learned that I need to respect the dignity of those who come through my doors or over my phone line for help, even those who may be difficult or may ‘push my buttons’. I need to have a spirit of discernment – “wise as a serpent; gentle as a dove,” and to be non-judgmental. I may not agree, but they are still in pain and in need of a ‘listener.’
> I have learned the importance of having a view from another’s eyes. While a baby baptism may for those involved be a joyous occasion, there may be those in attendance for whom it is extremely painful…those struggling with their singleness or their infertility…those who would love to be, but never will be, parents or grandparents.
> I have learned that as much as I might wish it, I cannot take away another’s pain, nor can I fix the problem, but I CAN help to bear the burdens of that one. This is what I am called to do – “Bear one another’s burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2)
> I have learned to listen and that my example or my story which may at the time seem relevant to me, may actually be a deterrent. What really matters is THEIR story and their need to tell it and to have someone really listen so they can tell it often.
> I have come to appreciate that silence is precious; words need to be guarded carefully. Sometimes incessant talking and inappropriate humor can be an irritant. Whose needs am I meeting – mine or the one for whom I am caring?
> I have learned that sometimes I need to be bold in giving care. I need to have the freedom to ask the delicate, ‘uncomfortable’ questions. Perhaps God will use me to ask, “Are you afraid?” “Are you struggling?” “Was it hurtful?”
> I have learned that I don’t know everything, and therefore, I strongly believe in the value and beauty of team and corporate wisdom. I don’t always have to have an answer or give my opinion. Sometimes the greatest care I can give is to find out what wisdom someone else might have to share in this particular situation.
> I have learned the beauty of “weeping with those who weep”, and “laughing (or rejoicing) with those who laugh,” and that God uses the comfort I have received to comfort another.
> I have learned that grief takes as long as it takes, is a process rather than a destination, and I dare not put another on my time table for healing – and that the ‘death bed is a very holy place’ for the believer but for the one who doesn’t have the assurance of going to be with Jesus, it may be terrifying for the dying person or their family.
DO NOT EVER FORGET – GOD USES PROGRAMS, TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE – BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, GOD USES YOU in caring for another…your servant heart, your uniqueness, guided by His Spirit…God uses YOU! As He chooses to use us, He also equips us as ‘grace-givers.’ It is a privilege to be making decisions based upon what is best for the other Philippians 2:3-4…”Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”