From Ephesians: “But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.”
This understanding of love is the focus of a book by Kenneth Haugk, the founder of Stephen Ministry. In it he explores the role of a Stephen Minister, as one who cares, and listens, and prays with a person in the midst of difficulties or brokenness. Often, in the midst of brokenness, the world becomes hazy, out of focus, or skewed. Part of the role of a Stephen Minister is to have the courage to speak the truth in love. This could be challenges or insights – opportunities to explore where our lives in faith meet the world of tomorrow.
I have worked in congregations where there is Stephen Ministry and in congregations that do not. And while it is an investment, why would you NOT want specially trained people in listening, prayer, care, and speaking truth in love? Every congregation can benefit from this training by equipping those called by God to this caring work! I am a Stephen Leader and can help you find a place to receive training.
In Paul’s imagery of the body, he helps articulate that with Christ at the head, we are no longer thrown to and fro by our own desires, but knit together into a new reality – that of Christ’s will. This is, of course, core to Stephen Ministry too, seeing Christ as the center of our lives, even in the midst of brokenness. Being knit into Christ’s will can be great comfort and leading.
But ultimately choice enters the picture. Do we follow our own selfish desires, which so often include greed, oppression of others, and self-sufficiency, or do we follow Christ who demands we love our neighbors as ourselves?
The transformative power of the cross was one that turned the whole establishment on its head. No longer would we follow Rome, or the Jewish authority. Nor would we follow ourselves. Instead, we have renewed our vows, and accept God in charge.
This impacts more than just our pocketbooks or own prayer lives – it involves every fiber of our being. We are no longer the same person, but knit together into a unified existence of radical change.
Where God will lead us, we do not know. Where we are ultimately going is sure. In the mean time, we choose the path of love.
P.S. If you would like to know more about Stephen Ministry, or if having a Stephen Minister walk with you through some of life’s trouble, feel free to email me back, or call me sometime. There is a Regional Stephen Ministry network in Greater OKC, and some of our larger churches like Westminster Presbyterian Church and All Souls Episcopal Church often cross-train folks who end up serving in their home congregations. I can also connect you with a Referrals Coordinator, who can get matched up with someone in this special kind of confidential, caring relationship if you feel you need to talk to a Stephen Minister.