Today’s Readings: Psalm 63; Micah 7:11-20; Matthew 20:29-34; 1 Peter 4:7-19
Have you ever noticed there are some skills you have that benefit you greatly in some situations but are a hindrance in other situations? I have one of those skills. That skill is my natural tendency to be a problem solver.
When I’m working with groups, for instance, my ability to solve problems can be incredibly helpful. The skill is also helpful around the house as I tend to take on challenges right away and bring them to resolution. There is one area in my life, however, where that can be a problem. That area? My service extending pastoral care to those in need.
You see one of the greatest mistakes I made in my first few years of ministry was to assume those who came to me in my role as pastor expected me to be a problem solver and “fix” their problem. Over time I learned two things about what people hope for when they seek me out. First (and foremost) they want a sensitive and compassionate person who will listen and genuinely care about their plight. And second, they want a helpful resource person against whom they can bounce off ideas. Rarely – if ever – do they come expecting you to simply “fix” the problem for them. Once I learned those lessons, my life got a lot easier (and my ministry became much more effective).
If I had paid closer attention to the examples from Jesus ministry in the Bible, I would have learned much earlier effective ways to facilitate the healing presence of God. Take today’s story from Matthew as an example. When Jesus encountered the blind men sitting by the roadside, he set a good example for us to follow in dealing with individuals in need. When Jesus first encountered the men, he didn’t force himself into the situation; instead, Jesus stepped back and waited to be invited in. Once he was invited in, Jesus didn’t make any assumptions about what the men wanted of him. He asked an open ended question (“What do you want me to do for you?”), and then waited for their response. It was only then that Jesus went the next step and facilitated healing for the two.
I’m sure you have instances in your own life where others seek you out for advice and/or counsel. If so, I would encourage you to remember Jesus’ powerful example, and resist the urge to “fix” the situation on your own terms. Instead, use the tools toward which Jesus pointed us and see what sort of healing you might be able to facilitate for your loved one. Til next time…