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Authentic ministry

December 27, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

I don’t know anyone who wants to be a ministry project.  In our new role in member care, there have been a few times when people have been quite defensive when we have asked them how they are doing.  How to communicate genuine care? How to care for people authentically? Some helpful words from Beth Porter via the Henri Nouwen society.

On the Journey Towards Becoming a More Authentic Minister written by BETH PORTER

I have sometimes felt so phony in my attempts at ministry. My words seem awkward and empty to me, and I can only imagine that the person receiving them recognizes this. Lately I have been looking back at one period of ministry when I felt I usually did have the right words – and right judgment about when silence and not speech was called for. It was a stint of chaplaincy training during which I was assigned to visit palliative care patients. Though I had little experience or training, authentic ministry seemed to come easily to me there, and fairly often I could sense the grace in the moment for the other person as well as for myself.

What were the elements in that situation that called the best out of me? I think the exigency of approaching death left no space for delay, for laziness, for the trivial, or platitudes, or dishonesty – or for self-conscious concern about whether or not I would find the right words. In the starkness, fully attentive, I reached deep for hope, and my ego took a backseat.

The word authentic means “from the author.” I usually realize after I have said something when it has come from a superficial part of myself – it’s as though the real me has not authored it! I don’t particularly want to keep death always in mind, but I see the importance of the psalmist’s plea that God “teach us to number our days, so that we might get a heart of wisdom.”

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