Here are four new things that I learned through the Holy Spirit recently:
1. Conviction or Condemnation
A person who we have a grievance with is either going to hear from God’s Spirit or from God’s enemy.
If they hear from God’s Spirit they’ll be convicted to make right what has been done wrong. If they hear from God’s enemy, on the other hand, they will condemn the other party. There is no learning, no blessing, and no hope in the latter. But reconciliation is probable in the former situation.
2. We Are Comforted to Comfort Others With the Comfort We Received
A principle of 2 Corinthians chapter 1 gives us the purpose behind suffering. It’s a truth that ought to never be rejected as cliché.
Only those who have trodden a particular road can truly empathise with others who are on the same road. But to have suffered and surrendered is a spiritual gifting with universal reach for ministry. We have something to offer someone when we have reached a place where nobody’s explanation of our situation made any sense at all, least of all our own. In that liminal space we discovered only God’s invisible powers mattered.
When ministry transcends words, and where answers or advice cease to have value, we are able to ponder the questions. It’s only questions that have any value when there are no answers; when life has taken us onto a road of mystery.
3. Don’t Use the Force of Telling – Learn the Gentleness of Asking
Nobody responds to telling, and the giving of advice generally falls flat, even in those seeking advice, because advice rarely hits the same mark for the other person as it does for us.
Asking people questions invites them into their response of reflection.
Asking questions doesn’t offend people and it keeps space free for the Holy Spirit to communicate what only the Holy Spirit can.
4. Nurture the Pastoral Heart and Use It
Hugging people has become a tricky business nowadays, with issues of abuse and safety rife in the church.
But offering people the reciprocation of their intimacy is both kind and generous.
For those we are safe to love – those generally of the same gender and age – we should nurture relational blessings. For the opposite gender and for those who are vulnerable we should be warier, but demonstrations of kindness and generosity in public, especially when they are initiated by others, are generally safe.
Whatever we do in ministry we are best to nurture a pastoral heart.