How does one build a pastoral (or other) ministry that truly transforms people’s lives?
The obvious answer: “by God’s grace and power.” In practice, though, what does that really mean? Does our humanity play any role at all?
In seeking an answer, let’s start with a fresh look at a story you likely know well.
On a hot day in the Middle East, typical of many days there, rather than travel the expected route, Jesus detoured. While his disciples were away finding something to eat for lunch, he encountered a woman coming to draw water from a well.
Awareness. Jesus, always an astute observer of people, noticed that she, a Samaritan woman, was drawing water alone during the heat of the day rather than with the other village women who likely drew together in the morning. On a merely human level by simple observation, he likely could have sensed her isolation and potential loneliness.
Compassion. Compassion and love moved Jesus to pursue a conversation with this Samaritan woman.
Wisdom. Jesus wisely customized his approach as he dialogued with her. He caught her attention by asking for water, piqued her curiosity by suggesting he could offer living water and engaged her deeply in the ensuing conversation.
Divine revelation. Call it what you will, the Holy Spirit revealed to Jesus details of the woman’s past. While he could have surmised with unaided intellect her general situation, the number of her marriages and current lifestyle came only through divine means.
Empathy. Jesus in his humanity no doubt could and did empathize with the sting of rejection and shame that came from a lifestyle disapproved by others. He neither condoned nor condemned but we can be sure he felt the pains her life had caused for her.
Jesus impacted this woman’s life. This Jewish man who looked at her and addressed her as though she were somebody; this prophet who told her everything she had ever done; this Jesus changed her. So much so that she evangelized her entire village!
That’s power. That’s transformation.
Jesus demonstrates a most beautiful blend of both His humanity and His divine connection in this story. Jesus the man understood human feelings and experience. He understood emotional pain. He paid close attention to people, noticed their behaviors and expressions and empathized with other’s pain.
Jesus in his connection with God the Father could also tap into knowledge that was otherwise unknowable. Jesus in his divine love pursued and loved people many thought of as unlovable.
The combination of these two creates transformational relationship. All of us can tap into this formula to create transformational ministries:
Connection with God and Scripture + Emotional and Relational Wisdom = Transformational Ministry
Check back next week and I’ll share more about what I mean by Connection with God + Emotional and Relational Wisdom = Transformational Ministry! Meanwhile, may the Lord use you in powerful ways this coming week.