Last month I had the privilege to attend a Stephen Ministry Leadership seminar. If you are not familiar with Stephen Ministry I would encourage you to go to their web site: https://www.stephenministries.org/default.cfm and check it out. Basically it is a ministry to hurting people. And our world is filled with hurting people.
Sometimes in life we are derailed by events and our go to tools to deal with tragedy, divorce, death, accidents, disasters, or any other emotionally charged life changing occurrence no longer work. We feel lost and just don’t know what to do. Depression, anger or toxic behaviors can begin to rule our life. We make choices we would not make under normal circumstances. We are adrift and can’t find an anchor. That is where a Stephen Minister can help. Stephen Ministers undergo approximately 50 hours of training and are taught, among other things, how to listen.
The biggest mistake most people make when they try to comfort someone who is hurting is we try to fix the problem. We can’t fix someone else’s problem. We can be there with them as they wrestle with their emotions and the pain. The important thing is being present and letting the other know we care. And we need to be available until the time comes and the pain begins to change and they find the hope they need to carry on and move through all they are feeling.
Being a Stephen Minister is all about knowing when to be silent. It is in the silence, knowing there is someone there who is a safety net, that people are able to work through all the yuck they are feeling. BTW…yuck is an important theological term that describes all the piled up messiness of life we don’t want to deal with but have to when it can no longer be contained by the fake smiles we put on our faces. Enter a much needed Stephen Minister who can help us put things into perspective. Once we have a focused perspective we can begin to deal with “the yuck” and once dealt with we can then jettison “the yuck” from our lives.
If you are involved in a church, ask if they are a registered Stephen Ministry church. If not, and you are not personally in need of a Stephen Minister, consider starting Stephen Ministry for your church. If you are in need of a Stephen Minister, you can contact them through the web site and they will put you in contact with a Stephen Ministry church in your area.
Knowing someone is willing to walk with us during the difficulties of life makes the journey a little less painful. And let’s face it: we all have times when we need someone who is in our corner. Since we all need help sometime, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Getting the help we need, when we need it is not a sign of weakness. It shows great strength.