Making Ministry: Listening with Patience

One on one interactions mean we must know how to communicate by carrying on real conversations.  Holding the attitude of Paul in Acts 20, Gospel connections are not made by talking about the weather for an hour.  Gospel connections are made when a conversation fulfills the goals presented in James 5:16:

Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

The healing referred to is not only a physical healing, it can also be a spiritual healing.  There is healing in confession of sins and temptations.  Through the many conversations I have been a part of in my ministry, I want to share a few pointers I have learned.  These suggestions do not come from a counseling degree, it is all from experience and careful application of the word of God, which brings me to the first suggestion:

Apply the Word

I do not have all the answers when it comes to scripture (surprising I know).  Sometimes, I am confused about the message of the Bible and how it is interacting in my life.  Being humble enough to share that confusion, and have confidence that God is leading me to clarity is an important part of discussion.  I never approach a Gospel centered conversation pretending to know all the answers.  Instead I willing share the clarity God has given me and how His word is applying to my life.  If we can honestly share our confusion, yet show confidence of faith, it allows Christ to shine through our weakness and trust builds within the conversation.

Quick to Listen

Be a listener.  Desire to know about the person you are conversing with.  Make it your goal to learn as much as you can about that person and you will listen more than you speak. You won’t discuss your life because you will be focused on learning about the life of the other person.  Check your heart as well: Do you desire to guide this person to Christ, or are you digging for your own personal gain?  The desires of your heart are important because they will be felt in the atmosphere of the conversation.  If your heart is truly led by Christ, the conversation will be led by Him as well.  He will give you the things to say and questions to ask.

Go ahead, Ask the Question

“So what ended up happening between you and your boyfriend?  How do your parents handle the hurt?  Walk me through the details of the rape.”

If you are seeking to help, if you genuinely want to lead that person toward the Gospel, the hard, personal questions will pop in your head.  Ask the question, don’t push it away.

You might say, “That’s not your place, that’s to personal!”

When I seek to fulfill the message of James 5:16, I believe we are meant to act differently than the world by not holding in the hard stuff of life, by not digging into the lives of others for personal gain, and by giving our burdens to one another so we can assist in leading to the feet of Jesus.  True believers will live out faith by living together through conversation in the good and the bad.

What makes this digging okay for believers but not from worldly standards: our heart.  Personal gain that the world seeks versus spiritual guidance toward the cross.

Wait for the Answer

When your heart is set toward guidance for that person, when you prayerfully approach a conversation, when you ask the hard question, you must have patience.  Any difficult conversation takes thoughtful time and careful words.  Showing trust is giving time, not trying to fill the silence.

Pray

Always end with prayer.  Ask for God’s guidance and remember His power in confession.  The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.

More on Making Ministry:

Making Ministry: One connection at a time (Part 1)

Making Ministry: Healing the Hurt (Part 3) coming soon…

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