Yesterday I was sitting outside with a friend talking and enjoying the nice weather when all of a sudden this man came up and started talking to us. I have no idea who this person was, but it was clear that he was drunk and a little disoriented. He introduced himself to us and just started talking about his sons, the war in Afghanistan and who would play him in the movie they are making about himself (he suggested George Clooney which would have been a great fit because they looked very similar). Now, in the past I would be a little annoyed with these kinds of interruptions because I was enjoying my time with my friend. However, this time was different. I looked at this man and I thought, he needs someone to talk to. For whatever reason he wants/needs to be heard. He wants/needs to be valued. So my friend and I kept on talking to him until time constraints had us having to end our conversation. At that point we shook hands and went our separate ways.
Being heard and valued has been something I have been thinking a lot about this week. See, I started my new job this week at New Life Christian Church in Centreville, VA as the Family Ministry Pastor and it has been an amazing week! Not only do I feel that God is going to move in a mighty way there, one of the things I have appreciated so much this week is that I feel that my thoughts and opinions are valued and desired to be heard. Not that wasn't the case other places I have done ministry but it abundantly clear that they want to hear my thoughts and they value my opinion (at least that is how I feel - they could be reading this right now mocking my every comment but I doubt it). How do you think feeling valued and heard made me feel? It made me feel like a million bucks! It made me feel special and appreciated.
Being heard and valued are so important in the ministry that we do. Rightfully or wrongly, as an "authority" or a person of influence in our ministry position, people are going to look to us and want to know what we thing about their situation. So as a little gut check, how do you respond when:
As the Children's Minister,
- a talk-aholic little 6 year old child keeps talking your ear off about everything (and I mean everything) they did from when they woke up til now?
- a mother or father wants to talk about the heartbreak of miscarriage or not being able to get pregnant for the umpteenth time.
- a volunteer leader shares their feelings about how we are doing ministry all wrong.
As the Youth Minister,
- a parent constantly inundates you with all the problems in their family and takes up what seems to be like hours of your time
- a volunteer leader wants to hang out with you constantly because you are the only real person they can connect with
- a student explaining how they feel very little, if any, self worth even though they are the most beautiful person inside and out.
As the College Director,
- a freshman who is so depressed and homesick that he or she keeps hanging out with you because you are the only person they feel comfortable with.
- a student who has just messed up for the 100th time but then keeps coming back to you asking for guidance and direction that they never seem to listen to.
These are a just a few scenarios you can and will encounter and I am not suggesting that listening and being there during all these situations are easy. Just like listening to that man yesterday, they can be hard and very awkward. But the reality is being heard and valued is a common desire/need that people have. If they are not being heard and valued from you and your ministry, they will go and find it somewhere else.
So, TAKE A MINUTE and evaluate, are you valuing people in your ministry? If not, what do you need to do to start valuing them more? Post a comment so that we can all benefit and learn.
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