SPRING IS COMING…
Baseball is back! Yes, I realize it’s just spring training, but the regular season kicks off one month from today. Not only that, but two weeks from today we will already be in the second round of March Madness. Or, if sports are not your thing, check out this picture of daffodils I took while spending some time with my parents last weekend. What’s the point? Spring is not that far away.
I know I started last week with the same thought, and some of you are probably thinking I’ve run out of material. But the truth is, I believe this time of year can be one of the toughest times in the rhythm of spiritual community, and as a result it can be easy to miss out on great opportunities. I know this because I’ve fallen prey year after year to muddling through February and March only to find myself in June wondering what happened to the time.
All that to say that I would really encourage you to make the most of these next few months. I promise you won’t regret it. If you do regret it for any reason, I’ll give you your money back. I’m not sure what money either, it just sounded cool. So, what does this look like? I think it starts by being intentional in your group/class time. Don’t allow the monotony of the rhythm of life to seep into your group. Bring your A-game, get creative, schedule something outside of your normal rhythm.
One of the people in my group last week said that she really didn’t want to come to group that week, but she was so glad she did. The rest of the group agreed. I think most people tend to feel that way at this point in the year. So if that is true, what could you do to make coming to your group or class that much more worth while? I would love to hear your ideas. If you have an idea, please share in the comments, and if you do, there might be a little reward for you. Guess you will have to try and find out. 🙂
IN THIS SEASON…
I suspect that many of you know Laura Reimer. If you don’t, she has been a faithful servant and leader at FCC for many years. She currently oversees our weekend prayer team, teaches a sunday school class and serves in a lot of ways that very few people see.
She also happens to write a blog I love to read, and is probably not very happy with me right now for drawing attention to her. Sorry Laura.
I wanted to share one of her posts with you this week because it was an incredible encouragement to me, and because it believe it directly connects with what we each do. Please take a few minutes to follow this link and read her thoughts:
Laura did a beautiful job of painting a picture of the burden that many of the people in our congregation, and therefore our small groups and classes, carry on a daily basis. Not only that, but how our amazing God walks with us in each of these situations. I think her encouragement is powerful and many people in our groups and classes need to hear it. Please feel free to share with those who do.
On a broader scope, what I love about this article, is that she is walking this road with her friend as her friend navigates this difficult season. We all have people in our groups and classes who are walking difficult roads. As leaders and teachers, we have the opportunity to step in and journey with them, and help those in our groups do the same. While I want to be careful not to oversimplify, In these situations I think there are three basic ways we can serve.
Even in moments where you feel completely inadequate, your presence and genuine concern for the person will show that you care. That is enough to help with crisis. The truth is that you are not superhuman, but because of God you are supernaturally able. In the moments you walk into crisis, be strong and be confident in Him.
I love that Laura pointed out that sometimes there are no words. Often your presence and appropriate touch are exactly what the person needs. However, in those moments when you do have the opportunity to speak, it can be intimidating. If I can be honest, I find those moments intimidating too. Here are three ideas I try to focus on and would encourage you to do the same as you care for the people in your group or class:
- Focus on listening: Listening is an incredible gift to someone facing difficult circumstances. The key thing is not giving into the pressure to jump in and say what you think you are supposed to say. Often listening is what is most deeply needed
- Focus on feeling: Sometimes people need help expressing how they actually feel about the situation. In difficult moments, people tend to recycle what they have heard others say. In these moments you have the opportunity to help them define how they actually feel.
- Focus on remembering: One of the most powerful ways to bring hope is to help the person recall great memories and beautiful moments. This is deeply needed, especially in situations like Laura described.
Please also remember that the burden is not on you to fix the situation with your words. While I still feel intimidated by speaking in these moments, I have found that God consistently gives me the words I need when I need them.
The most important way to serve is through prayer. Pray for the person and pray with the person. Prayer not only has the power to make a significant difference, it serves as a reminder to the person that God cares, is with them, and is for them.
Thanks for taking the time to read through this, and thank you for caring for your group/class so well. Have a great week!