Category Archives: Soul Care

Comforters Need Comfort Too

This past Sunday at church, I was extremely emotional.  In my spirit, I was grieving about different situations that members of our church are experiencing – loss, illness, heartache.  As we were singing, “I will call upon your name and keep my eyes above the waves, when oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace, for I am yours and you are mine . . .”  the weight of what individuals in our dear flock are going through overwhelmed me to the point of tears.  I then had two choices to make – stuff my tears so no one would see them, or let them flow – potentially causing people to wonder what was wrong with me.

I have learned it is best for me to let the tears flow when they need to, rather than stuff them to be dealt with at another time.  So, I let them flow and as they did, a strange and wonderful thing happened.  The comforter became the comforted.  First a hug by a friend who asked what was wrong.  When I mentioned that I was grieving the things people were going through, she encouraged me that I have the heart of Jesus for those hurting in our church.  After worship was over and we went into our greeting time, I went to the bathroom for a bit of privacy and encountered more women who wanted to physically embrace me and offer me words of comfort.  It felt so good to cry on their shoulders.  One of them said, “Comforters need comfort too.”  Another older lady asked how she could pray for me.  Two others embraced me in a circle and reminded me that God gave us to each other to walk through difficult times together.

I didn’t expect to have an emotional break down at church that day, but I’m so glad I did.  The Lord used the power of His Spirit, a beautiful worship song and my sisters in Christ to comfort me.  Had I not been willing to be real and human, I would have missed out on the comfort I so greatly needed.

Comforters need comfort too.  When the weight of others sadness becomes too much for you to bear, where do you go for comfort?  I encourage you to make a comfort plan.  Here is what is included in mine:

  • Cry when I need to.  There is nothing like a good cry to release some of the emotions that get built up.
  • I Read the book of Psalms.  David is a master comforter; in fact, he’s penned some of the most comforting words in all of history – Psalm 23.
  • I remember that although God has called me to be a shepherd, the little flock under my care is ultimately His.  Two of my go to Scriptures when I need to lay people at the feet of Jesus are:  Save Your people and bless Your heritage; nourish and shepherd them and carry them forever. Psalm 28:9, Amplified and “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  John 10:11, NIV
  • I let others comfort me.  There is no shame in needing comfort as a comforter.  In fact, if you want to continue to be an effective comforter, it is imperative that you let others comfort you.  This is a key to longevity in ministry.

Comforters need comfort too.  As you continue to give God’s comfort, make sure you receive it as well.  One of God’s gifts of grace to us as leaders is providing people who feel called to love, support and encourage us.  Let them do what God has called them to do!

Your Friend in Ministry,

Name3

 

 

 

Could Ya Play?

When I was a little girl, I lived in the desert in a small town outside of Las Vegas, NV.  The summers were extremely dry and hot, hot, hot!  At the end of our street lived a younger girl named Cindy.  I don’t know about you, but when I think of the name Cindy, I think of a very girly, feminine girl.  However, this Cindy was not.  In fact, she was very much a tom-boy, often going around the neighborhood shirtless in the summer (even when she was about eight years old!!).

Cindy used to regularly come to our house, ring the doorbell and as soon as we opened the door, she would say, in a rather expressionless face with a monotone voice “couldyaplay?”  She said it as one long word “couldyaplay”, rather than three short words “could you play?”.  Looking back on it now, I am ashamed to admit that my sisters and I didn’t always want to play with Cindy.  We didn’t have much in common with her and her tom-boy ways, plus she was younger than us.  All Cindy was looking for, like any other little girl,  was a friend.  She didn’t find very good ones in us, (forgive us Lord!).

It isn’t just little girls who are looking for friends, is it?  Most women desire close female companionship, it’s the way God designed us to function best.  When I was young in the ministry, there was a common belief among the older women in ministry that you could not be close friends with the people in your church.  As I heard this I remember thinking, I’m either going to be really lonely or I’m going to have to prove this belief wrong.  I knew I couldn’t live without friends, so I went about to prove otherwise.  Here is what I have learned about friendship over the years.

  1. There is a difference between ministry relationships and friendships.  Ministry relationships are one-sided, where you reach out in friendship, love, support to those who need it. Friendships are two-sided, where friendship, love and support is reciprocated back to you.  In the ministry, you will have many ministry relationships, but few friendships.  Yet, you need strong and deep friendships to stay healthy in the ministry.
  2. Look for friendship with women who serve with you on a church staff.  Some of my dearest, lifelong friends are those I have served alongside.
  3. If that is not an option either because your church is small or friendships with those you serve with is not a good fit, consider other women in ministry in your community.  Although your paths may not cross as often as you like, these friends have a keen understanding of what it’s like to walk in your shoes, because they’re walking in similar ones.
  4. Don’t be afraid to ask God to provide you friends within your church.  As you do keep in mind the following:
  • Let God choose your friends for you.  Sometimes you have to let go of the friends you think you want so that God can bring you the friends He knows you need.
  • Don’t rush the process.  True, lasting friendships take a long time to develop.  As you slowly share and are vulnerable, the Holy Spirit will show you if you can entrust your heart or not.
  • It may feel uncomfortable to share the real you, especially because you are normally the one who listens in most relationships.  To this day, I still get caught off guard when people ask me how I’m really doing.  It is not a question that gets asked often of us in ministry, but it’s OK to be real and share your doubts, concerns, hurts, heartaches, laughter and joy with trusted friends.  It is vitally important that you have friends who are able to input into your life.
  • There are some sensitive ministry situations or concerns you can only share with the Lord or your husband.  Ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom and keep you appropriate in what you share.

Thankfully, times have changed and some of the beliefs about how to interact with your congregation have been altered over the years.  I have been in the ministry close to 20 years now and am living proof that you can be friends with those in your church.  You may have to knock on a lot of doors, asking “couldyaplay”, but eventually God will provide you with the friends you need.

In addition to real-life friends, hear me asking you today “couldyaplay?”  I pray this blog is a place where we know that the door of friendship won’t be slammed in our face but, rather, opened with a smile offering love, encouragement and support for those of us who serve God in ministry.  May it be so, in Jesus’ Name!

Your Friend in Ministry,

Name3