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How not to Respond to Uncomfortable Questions

18 Mar Spiritual Formation | Comments Off on How not to Respond to Uncomfortable Questions
How not to Respond to Uncomfortable Questions
 

From Good to Bad

I recently sat down for lunch with a few friends and a new acquaintance.  For me, lunch was the first of a few meetings in the midst of a full day and a few hours of travel time.  Despite feeling a little rushed I was thoroughly looking forward to catching up with my friends, especially over some good Mexican food.

Our conversation was a hodgepodge of ministry, family, hometown stories, future aspirations and a few random rabbit trails.  The new guy told us a little about the ministry at which he and his wife serve full time; a spiritual formation center focused on pastoral care and personal retreats (The Haft).

question1

At one point he asked me, “Ben, how we serve you as a guy in full time ministry?  How can we help you be healthy?”

Wow, what a great question.  You don’t hear that very often.  He wasn’t interested in camp’s bottom line, this summer’s program theme, what type of devotional material we use or the multitude of big ticket items on my to do list.

He was asking ME about the healthiness of my soul.

Unfortunately, my response was not great.

I glazed over his heartfelt question and redirected the conversation.  I wasn’t trying to avoid him, it’s just, I had my own agenda for the day and I was on a mission.  (Okay, maybe I avoided his question on purpose.) We kept talking, and as you can imagine, he didn’t bring it up again and I didn’t back pedal.

I know, I know…  you would probably have smacked me upside the back of my head if you were sitting there next to me.  I have felt like that for the past few weeks.  What a total fail.  Not only did I ignore a heartfelt offering of soul care, I’m pretty sure I ignored God… His agenda, His provision, His leading.

Join the Club

When was the last time someone ask you how they can serve YOU?  Not your ministry, but YOU!

Do you have friends, colleagues or co-workers who are more concerned with the healthiness of your soul than your numbers on Wednesday night?  Or like me, have you recently met someone who is more excited about serving YOU than all the great things happening in your ministry?

How do you tend to react in those moments? Are you able to receive it with gratitude in the moment, or do you tend to shrug it off and get on to the topics that you’re more comfortable talking about. It strikes me that our ministry busyness can sometimes be as much about avoiding the ugliness inside as it is about doing great things for God.

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The creeping realization that I had blown off a sincere gesture of love and care from a brother really gnawed at me. In the moment, it was far easier to talk about soul care and healthy ministry as an abstract idea than to examine my own life and practices, let alone welcome someone else into my struggle.

It’s Not Too Late

Thankfully, I was able to reconnect with Dan (the new guy) a few days later.  He graciously forgave me for ignoring his concern for my healthiness.  This time, the conversation went much better – I was able to share an honest answer and even reflect on the experience of blowing off his question. I plan to go visit him this spring.

How about you?  It’s not too late to backpedal a bit, ask for forgiveness, and seek God’s direction.  Perhaps you’ve kept your walls up enough that others stopped asking, anticipating your stoic response. Today might be a chance to initiate a conversation by asking the question yourself. Maybe no one has asked you yet.  Sometimes it’s hard to find those people and those places.  Here are a few folks that I know would love to ask you, “How’s your soul?  How can I help?”

Ben Myers
Camp Director at Arrowhead Bible Camp
Ben Myers has served as the Camp Director at Arrowhead Bible Camp in Brackney, PA for the past 13 years. Arrowhead is a ministry committed to discipleship through its programs for adults with developmental disabilities, missions opportunities for youth groups, and mentoring of High School and College students. Ben also teaches as an adjunct professor at Lancaster Bible College and holds degrees from Cairn University and Baptist Bible Seminary.