Over the last few months, as we have traveled through four states and two countries outside of the US, Jacq and I have come in contact with more people who are walking through difficult circumstances. Some are deeply painful and others are just confusing as people are grasping for answers. It has opened my eyes to the reality that everyone has a story to share. Some are more willing to share it right away than others, but if we take the time to listen and care, everyone has something going on in their life that they are walking through.
It’s probably safe to say, especially in this time we are living in as a nation, that every person we meet needs prayer for something going on in their life right now. They may not open up about it right away, but if we are sensitive to God’s leading and sincerely want to know, we can draw those current stories out. If we are willing, we can allow God to use us as an encouragement and blessing to those people we meet on a day to day basis. I think alot of it just has to do with being willing to take the time and listen. We also have to be proactive enough to look for the signs that people are going through something (the “bubbles”/signals they send up when we ask them how they’re doing) and be willing to draw them out.
This can be hard when we have so much going on in our own life, so much that we want to talk about, but I’ve found that the best times of ministry come not when I’m speaking, but when I’m listening to others share their story. Each one is an opportunity to encourage one another and pray. When I go this direction, I start to understand what it means when Jesus says, “it’s more blessed to give than to receive.” We usually think of money when we hear this verse, but in this context it has to do with giving ministry away verses being ministered to. It means being willing to listen more than we talk.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be more sensitive to find out what’s really going on in the people’s lives that God leads me to on a daily basis. I want to go beyond the surface and beyond the pat conversations. I don’t want to simply their story, but let them tell me what is really going on. As I take the time to listen and pray, my hope is that people will find the answers they were looking for…the answers that were there all along. I know I’m on that road even though I haven’t yet arrived.
How about you? What have your learned from other people’s stories? How are you taking time to search them out and find out what’s going on in their lives and how you can stand with them?