How Not to Minister to the Hurting
- Tuesday, April 26, 2011
13. "I know your brother is going to wake up! People wake up from comas all the time. I saw it on television last week!"
Holly again wishes she had a nickel for every time someone has thrown that one their way. She thinks, "Wouldn't it be nice if real life always resolved itself at the end of a 30-minute time slot, just like on television."
14. "We want to be your family . We want to be there for you, every week. Twice a week if you need it."
The people who said that never returned or even inquired as to how Seth and the family were doing.
15. "You know, it's been 7 years. You really need to get over this and move on."
That's pretty hard to do when your loved one is lying in the next room, requiring 24/7 personal care.
16. "I want to come visit your son, but I just can't. You see, I don't do well in hospitals." Or, this variation: "I just can't handle seeing him like this. I want to remember him the way he was."
What goes through your mind on hearing this is: "Maybe you need to get over yourself, friend. Think of what it must be like to be in his condition. Think how much it might mean to him to hear the voice of a friend."
17. "I know how you feel." "I know what you're going through."
Answer: No, you don't. The only person who knows is one who has been there themselves.
18. "We're on our way home from a workshop on faith healing, and we'd like to stop by and pray over your brother!"
This couple left with a rather disappointed air when the new techniques they had learned failed to work.
19. "The other night we stopped by the hospital after everyone was gone. I prayed healing over your brother, called him forth, and said, 'Young man, arise!'"
They seemed to feel a certain satisfaction over having done this. One wonders why, since Seth continued to lie there.
20. "I want to come and pray for your son." "I want to come and minister to you."
They stayed an additional three hours during which time they talked about themselves, their kids' activities, politics, and last Friday night's football game.
Holly observes, "People like this genuinely believe they mean it when they say they want to come pray for you and/or minister to you. But what they really mean is they want to sit and have someone listen to them talk all afternoon."
Such people leave thinking--as a family member actually heard a woman say in church one day--"Wow, I really ministered to them today! It must have been such a bright spot in their sad situation, to hear my cheerful, fascinating conversation."
On another occasion, a woman who was known for staying all day became insulted and then rude when the family declined her offer to visit the hospital in a time of crisis.
Holly notes, "Here is a hint for anyone who is considering visiting a sick friend or one in a crisis: Unless you are specifically asked otherwise, limit your visit to a half hour at the most. They have enough to deal with without having to pretend all afternoon to be interested in what your kids are doing."
Holly says a half-hour. I'd say more like 10 or 15 minutes max. I'm recalling walking into a hospital room where a man from the church sat visiting the patient, also a member of our church. When he got up to leave, I said, "Hey, don't let me rush you off." He protested that I wasn't, that it was time to leave. After the door closed behind him, the patient said, "Preacher, I'm so glad you came. He's been here a solid hour." On another occasion, a patient told me, "Pastor, don't tell the church I'm in here. They'll visit me to death. I'd like some quiet."
Recently on Pastors / Leadership
Have something to say about this article? Leave your comment via Facebook below!
Listen to Your Favorite Pastors
Add Crosswalk.com content to your siteBrowse available content