Learning to provide comfort and encouragement for those who are experiencing dark days can be challenging. We are told that the “ministry of presence” (just being there) for others is what they need . . . but how does that work, practically?
Whether as a church leader, parent, spouse, friend, or in any role serving others, we all could use simple tips on how to have a ministry of presence and comfort.
As I have coached hundreds of individuals and families through distress, here are five principle tips I keep in mind.
1. Be Present for the Growth Process vs. The Fix It
Supporting anyone in this journey is about patience for the process, not pushing to achieve everything in a five-, seven-, or twelve-step process. Steps are principles of growth and healing for humans; they should not be the mandate to achieve for machine results. It’s a process because people need time for self-discovery and simple tools on how to manage their journey. They will grow through the steps, not achieve them.
2. Be Present with Empowering Language vs. Expectations
As you meet with them try to not to use the word need, but instead use the word like. When we say, “What do you need to do?” can cause stress. It implies lack and what they don’t have. It can subtly come across as “Work harder to get your needs fulfilled, and your pain will go away.” Simply not true.
However, when we say “What would you like to do?” we are empowering them to discover what they would like to try with something they already have within or the power to accomplish . . . if it doesn’t work, then simply try something else. Need is about expectations and failure; like is about empowering them to discover what they have and can do (grow in).
3. Be Present with a Growth Encouragement vs. General Absolutes