The Ministry of Presence
by Lauren Hall

July 23, 2021

Relational Connection

The Ministry of Presence

By 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.

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With our presence we communicate that we love them, that we share the burden, that they aren’t alone. It communicates strength, comfort and hope and drives out the lies that are bred in isolation.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

God made us to function best together. All of us will stumble and fall at some point. God knew this, and part of His perfect solution was to create community and godly friendship so we might lift one another up. This verse says nothing about the friend who lifts up also having the perfect, inspiring, rallying message to go along with it. He simply lifts up his friend. He puts his arms around him, picks him up out of the dirt, and gets him to a place where he can carry on. There are times when it’s not only okay that we don’t have the ‘right’ thing to say, but it’s best that we not say anything. There are times when what our friends need is to have our arms lifting them up out of the mess, brushing off the dirt, putting their feet back on the right path, and helping them take the next step.

If we are physically absent when people need us most, even the most artfully constructed sentiment will ring hollow. The wounded, hurting soul needs the friend who will lift him up. Our words are important, but our presence is essential.


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