The Ministry of PresenceBy Lauren Hall
July 23, 2021
One of the greatest privileges of ministry is coming alongside people in difficult seasons of life. Ministry provides countless opportunities to speak life-giving, healing words into heavy situations. We meet with people who are grieving, sinning, stunned, angry, depressed, anxious and desperate. The pressure to know the right thing to say is a great responsibility; to know whether encouragement or correction is needed, grace or truth, inspiration or affirmation. In the beginning of our ministry life this was a challenge for me. I discovered that loving the person and having sympathy for them doesn’t automatically produce fluency in the language of compassion. I would watch those with far more ministry experience pull up the right verse or the right phrase seemingly on the spot, and I would wonder how they inherently knew the right thing to say. Over the years, with time, prayer and experience, I grew in this capacity. I grew in knowing whether an exhortation or encouragement is needed, whether they need Scripture that motivates or simply comforts.
Knowing what to say and what not to say is a skill honed in the trenches of suffering. The Word of God and the words of brothers and sisters in Christ are incredibly necessary in those times. But there is also much more to ministering to people in their hardest seasons than knowing the right words and verses. What I’ve learned over the years is that the ministry of words is second to the ministry of presence. In times of grief, rebellion, hardship or anxiety, it’s not only what the ear hears that fortifies the suffering soul, but what the heart feels. Being physically near, taking a hand or offering a hug is like showering a volume of words onto the souls of desperate, fearful, burdened people.