I Will Be Glad to Listen
How long has it been since you took the time to truly listen another person’s heart ache?
Stories are all around us. People hide them behind smiles and feverish activity. But they are often there, if we would just take time to listen. Often just having someone listen to them, and not judge them, but pray with them and encourage them, can make all the difference in the world.
When I hear these stories they help me to know how to pray. They increase my compassion and understanding. I also realize that most people in our society do not have a `normal’ life or background. People come to God with broken and shattered lives. They struggle with hurts and pain on often a daily basis. Here’s just a few of the statements I have heard over the past year:
“My husband beats me. I hate him. But for the sake of the kids, I put up with it.”
“My uncle raped me when I was fourteen. I never told anyone. I know it would destroy my mother and others if I told it now.”
“I wish I could divorce my husband. I have lost all love and respect for him. He treats me like a free housekeeper rather than a wife.”
I hate my sister. I know I should love her but I just can’t get past the ugly things she has done and said in the past.
“I cry all the time when Fm alone. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I smile on the outside but I feel dead inside.”
Of course, we know the answer to each of these problems is Christ. But many of these need more than quick answers. They need someone to listen to them and pray with them. They need a shoulder to cry on. You, as a local ministry leader can be the person and encourage them to go to the pastor for more council and advice.
Knowing that these stories of pain are walking through the doors of our sanctuary each Sunday should cause us to revisit what we preach and how we preach it. I’m reminded of an interesting interaction Jesus had with a person caught in sin. Initially, he didn’t address the person’s sin. His first priority was to address the accusers. Jesus showed compassion to the sinner. He didn’t condemn the sinner, but He did, however, redirect the sinner. At your church, are you simultaneously showing compassion and helping point people in a new direction?
Most of us have work to do in this area. Consider these questions to help you design a ministry strategy that meets people where they are in the midst of their painful stories.
> Are you willing to be vulnerable in your messages and share the imperfections and challenges you personally face?
> When you teach about sin, do you also teach about hope? Do people leave condemned or do they leave encouraged to take their next step?
Do people have an opportunity to share their stories, no matter how painful they might be?
Are you creating opportunities for hurting people to connect in a community where they can find support and healing?
We serve a God who called us to go to the lost. Care for the sick. Touch the untouchables. Too often, though. we fail to see the painful stories that hide behind seemingly normal lives. Are you prepared to listen and help?
Article “I will be glad to Listen” written by Judith Marton is excerpted from www.ladiesministryl.com.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”