One of the first priorities I had to learn being a crisis hot line counselor was to listen. Listening to what the person is saying and even what they arenít but you hear it through the details they give you and using your discernment.
As a crisis counselor your need to listen intensifies because you only have a few crucial minutes to talk to the person and bring some resolution to their situation before you hang up the phone. That lesson has helped me today to be a more effective listener and minister for Christ.
One of the problems I see today in our society is if we are not dealing with a crisis situation we will normally relax and not feel an urgency to react or make it a priority. We will try to resolve their situation speedily and cut to the chase before they even finish their conversation so that we can go home. We may even pass them off to someone else to minister to them or worse give them a pat biblical answer and send them on their way.
One of the biggest lessons I learned through counseling is to view people the way Jesus did. He loves people; He died for people and now lives for people. A good example was the story when Jesus saw the woman at the well; he not only took the time to talk to her but ministered to her.
The woman was a local outcast in her town, so much so she had to gather water in the evenings at a different time apart from the rest of the women who normally went in the mornings, perhaps to avoid the snickering and local town talk. Never the less, Jesus didnít seem to let that bother Him. He didnít view her as a lost cause or a low life problem and ignore her as he walked by but a person who needed Jesus.
He took time out to engage her, talk to her and even asked her to give Him some water. Thereís more to this one act that meets the eye. Besides being a town outcast her people were considered unclean gentiles to the Jewish people of Israel. To accept water from a person that was considered unclean was to say that they were accepting that person and anyone caught interacting with an unclean person was considered unclean also.
Understanding this, Jesus purposely asks for the cup of water in order to meet her right where she was at in spite of what people might have thought including His disciples.
In fact Jesus tells His disciples that ministering to her was His food and that food was to do the will of Him who sent Him and finish His work.(John 14;34) Thatís how important the ministry of reconciliation is to God.
He engaged her in conversation, meaning that he talked with and also listened. I love that story because it shows the heart of Jesus. To read the whole story you can read (John 14:14-38). Jesus knew what she needed and took the time to share with her about Himself.
I hope this story has encouraged you as it does me. I encourage you if you want to become a more spiritual and effective minister, to be willing take active steps to learn how to engage people in conversation, take some time out to find out what their need is by being a good listener and as you listen intently you will be able to minister to them according to their needs. I guarantee that God will use you beyond what you can imagine or think.
The woman at the well was so excited at what just happened that she couldnít wait to tell the entire village about Jesus. Remember that she was a woman who avoided people for fear of talk but now she had a message and wasnít ashamed to tell the whole world that she met Jesus.
Itís amazing what God can do in a personís life when we stop and give them a few minutes of our time to love them, engage them and share the hope that we have within us which is Christ in us, the hope of glory.
If you would like to know more on how to become a more effective minister, you can read my article that gives you 10 practical ways to become a more effective minister by ďLearning to ListenĒ. Check it out on my website!