Monday, June 30, 2014

3 Steps in Ministering to Others

We live in a hurting world. We have pain inside us, pain around us, and sin seems to soak everything. Everywhere we turn, others are struggling in their own ways with sin and suffering. For those who are in Christ, we are called as ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) to incarnate Christ into this world and minister God's grace to hurting people. How do we do this?

You have to do 3 things, sometimes it feels like all at the same time:

1. LISTEN (encourage): The first step is to really seek to understand what they're saying. What are they going through? What's most difficult about this? How are they feeling? Where do they feel God is in the midst of it? How have they responded to their pain so far? What are they struggling with? If you are lost, try asking some of the most basic questions: Who, what, when, where, why, how? As a first and last response, PRAY.

2. GOSPEL (empower): Listening by itself is encouraging, but it isn't empowering. We need to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ of the glorious gospel. You can either ask them "How does the gospel encourage you?" or speak directly to them: Your guilt has been washed away, your shame has been cleansed, you have a new identity now in Christ so this sin doesn't define you. Christ has entered into our world and identifies with suffering, and has faced every temptation as we have, so He knows our pain. We are adopted as sons and daughters into the kingdom and are set on a trajectory of holiness and victory. REMIND them of these truths. Preach the gospel to them. Secondly, try to guide them towards gospel solutions, meaning: options and "end of the story" mindsets that are distinctively shaped by the gospel. Often in our despair we say things like "it's hopeless, I'll never change, etc." But the gospel solution is: Christ has transformed you, you do have hope, by His Spirit you are changing and you WILL change. The gospel gives us hope-filled resources. Pray that God helps them SEE the gospel.

3. FIGHT (equip): Lastly, help them to make it practical. It's not enough just to give them the gospel, you have to show them how to wield it. Give them tools, weapons, resources. Do they need Scripture? Do they need accountability? Do they need help in their repentance? Do they need comfort? Where can they make an effort to remove provision for their flesh? Where can they practically pursue holiness? Help them to do this. Help them brainstorm. Help them PRAY and ask the Spirit for His help in fighting their sin, or peace in the midst of suffering.

Seeking to help others,
The Relentless Fight

PS: For those who know the model of Love, Know, Speak, Do (from Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands) here's the connection: The basic point of Love/Know is to listen and understand the person. The most important part of speaking is the glorious truth of the Gospel. And in this scenario, the Do (call to action) is to fight against our sin.