Anyone in a ministry position knows there are times when dealing with the human suffering of others becomes a heavy burden to shoulder. It is the nature of any one-to-one interaction with hurting people and there are times when I wonder if I am ineffective as a result.
This is when I have to return to what I know and believe and rise above how I feel. As a servant of the Lord, I am to strive to exemplify Him in my thoughts, words, and actions. Looking at how Jesus and then Paul ministered and served while they walked this earth I must conclude that the same attitudes are necessary in my heart if I am to be a useful conduit for truth and change in working with broken lives.
I know I am most useful when I am humble. Pride gets in the way of ministering to others. Humility reminds me that I am only one thought away from committing the most heinous sin. It reminds me that I am completely capable of saying or doing anything that a counselee confesses to doing.
Humility allows me to think of others as better than myself. As a person I am less important than my service to others can be. Paul said that in Philippians 2:7 when he wrote about being poured out like a drink offering. It is also what the Lord Jesus modeled in His life. Think about it; He owned nothing yet owned everything. He created everything yet for the most part lived in subjection to His creation. Even to the point of death on a cross (Philippians 2:7-8). Jesus lived His earthly life for the sole purpose of glorifying God. He was incredibly humble and gentle.
I am most useful when I am vulnerable. Being vulnerable is one aspect of being humble. It shows others that I am on the same journey of sanctification that they are. Opening myself up and revealing that I have sorrows and struggles, and sin areas is risky but rewarding. It is risky because I know that others don't always understand vulnerability and look upon it as a weakness and character flaw. What I have seen is that being vulnerable helps people to relate to me as a person. It removes all possibility that I will be placed on anyone's pedestal and looked at as any more than a sinner saved by grace.
I am most useful to others when I am "real." I strive to be genuine and true to who I am today and who I anticipate becoming tomorrow. I most certainly have not "arrived" and like every other human being, I encounter joys and trials and hardships every day. I endeavor to be honest in dealing with them; not hiding behind a mask of "Christian" and not pretending that all is perfect in my world. I don't have a smile on my face all the time even though I have the joy of my salvation living within me. It is possible for both joy in Christ and sorrow over human events to co-exist in life.
I am most useful when I am honest. Honestly includes all of the above and should characterize my life. Honesty shows that I am comfortable in my own skin and that it is more important to me to honor God than it is to look good to other people. Honesty reveals trust in God's perfect plan in my life. It also reminds me that I am in need of the provision of the cross every moment of every day.
The burdens are lifted when I stand, kneel, or am on my face at the foot of the cross. I once had a friend who reminded me that "on my face" is a position of worship. I like that. It reminds me again who is really in charge of all of this. It reminds me that while I may have the skill and knowledge and gifting to help hurting souls I am powerless and helpless apart from Him.
It is not up to me to change anyone, and my words alone hold no power. It is only as I teach and reveal His words to others am I worth a teaspoon of salt.