Listening that Leads to Hope

By Sarah Enck on August 5, 2015

The girl at camp who lives in a dysfunctional home and turns to self-harm.
The mother who wants to understand why her child is angry and disobedient.
The girl who feels alone at youth group.
The foster boy who doesn't understand why he has to leave another family.

All of these people have impacted my ministry experience because I was directly involved in their story. I had the opportunity to serve them within the church, but I also learned what it meant to walk alongside them. I had to learn what it looks like to help broken people living in a broken world.

We all live in a broken world. Within our churches we interact with people who are living with depression, experiencing adultery or have experienced intense trauma and abuse. The church is not immune to this brokenness and sin. Ministry leaders are often in roles that require a listening ear for their congregants.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in "Life Together," shares the importance of listening:

The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to his word, so the beginning of love for our brothers and sisters is learning to listen to them.

The nuances of counseling within a ministry context take form in many different ways. It can be the pastor who meets with a couple every week to discuss challenges in their marriage. Or the small group leader who presents the practice of spiritual disciplines to college students. It may be the counselor who is helping someone overcome anxiety produced by a traumatic past. It is a church member praying with a congregant who is overwhelmed with motherhood.

All of these require listening, and that listening can lead to hope.

As a resource for ministry leaders, counselors and those living in community with others, the Talking Points blog serves to highlight insights to better understand how to listen well and how to practically help others emotionally and spiritually. This blog will discuss important topics such as counseling techniques, trauma, addictions, self-care, counseling trends and steps for practicing counseling. We will also present various perspectives from students and faculty in the M.A. in Counseling program as well as alumni who are active in their counseling ministries.

We live in a broken world, but the truth of the gospel brings us hope in restoration. Elizabeth Elliot says it well in "A Lamp Unto My Feet: The Bible's Light for Your Daily Walk":

We want to avoid suffering, death, sin, ashes. But we live in a world crushed and broken and torn, a world God Himself visited to redeem. We receive his poured-out life, and being allowed the high privilege of suffering with Him, may then pour ourselves out for others.

As counselors and ministry leaders, we have the opportunity to live out the gospel as we listen and display hope and love to those in our community who are hurting.

The counseling topics presented on this blog are not just for those who desire to pursue a career in counseling, but for anyone who is working in a church, has a family or is talking with a friend. My hope is that you have a desire to learn more about counseling and how it can be used to biblically and effectively help people.

Join us in the Talking Points conversation not only to strengthen your ministry but to help strengthen others' as well.

Categories: Counseling, Discipleship, Ministry