Thursday, October 13, 2011

Extraordinary Ministry in Ordinary Places-Part II

In part I of this series, I told of an example of when I ministered to someone on the job. No, I am not a pastor. I was an Assistant Manager of a drugstore at the time. But that didn’t mean that I couldn’t use that job to minister to others. I did this with many of our customers. Working in a drug store put me in a position to come into contact with many people. And many of these people were sick, because they were coming to get medicine. Any time that I got a chance to connect with someone who wanted to share, I tried to take the time to listen. It wasn’t unusual for our store to process over 1000 transactions in a day. I have never seen that many people in any one of our services at our church. So, really, I had an opportunity to minister directly to more people every day than either of our pastors did.

I think that is how it should be. We go to church to worship God, and to be fed by the spirit; to be in community with one another. Then we take our gifts out into the world, to our families, neighbors and jobs to be ministers.

Our jobs, and civic groups are frequently a place to meet up with others. Don’t forget social media. I have shared many a prayer request for others on facebook. Anywhere that you encounter people, you have an opportunity to minister to someone.

Here are 5 tips for ministering to others in ordinary places:

1. Don’t wait for a special time or place. Minister right where you are: football game, grocery store, your job, waiting in line.

2. Ask someone how he or she is doing. If you say this on the run, you probably won’t get much response. But is you take the time to actually stop what you are doing, look someone in the eye and sincerely ask them how they are doing, they will tell you. This is an opportunity to hear concerns. Make sure to listen. Don’t try to solve the problem for them, Most of the time, the problem is much more complex than it sounds. Offer to pray daily for this person, and then do it. Sometimes, you may want to add his or her name to a prayer list. I always ask for their permission before I do that. I have never had anyone to tell me no. Sometimes, I may keep the request on a prayer list anonymous. For example, I might say, “Please pray for Eve, who is going through a difficult situation. God knows the need.” And that is enough.

3. Simple acts are ministries: a smile, a touch, a hello, a hug, saying bless you, offering to pray for someone, taking someone to dinner, babysitting, mowing a lawn, making a phone call, and of course, cooking a casserole.

4. Don’t neglect to minister to your pastors. As members of the body of Christ, if we do not minister to our pastors, who will?

5. Be open to receive the ministry of others. I have to be ministered to in times of trouble. I definitely need the prayers and shoulders of my fellow Christians. I lean on others and hopefully, I am there for them to lean on me.

In June, a good friend of mine was commissioned as a provisional elder in the United Methodist Church. She had just graduated from seminary. I texted her after she graduated and told her, “Now that you have finished school, be sure to teach me everything you learned.”

She answered me and said, “Sure! I will! It is very simple: 1. Love God. 2. Love others. That covers it.” I think that she is right.

Starting next week, I am going to feature a ministry on Wednesdays on this blog. I am looking for the ordinary place where we might not think of someone ministering. If you know of someone who has ministered to someone in an ordinary place, let me know. I would love to hear your story.

copyright 2011 by Kathy Robbins

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