The Ministry of Presence

Letters to a State, Volume 2, No. 5

“If God knows how we feel, why did Jesus have to come to earth to suffer as a human?”   

As a pastor, I used to get asked this question, or ones similar.  It deserves an answer. 

Let me answer with an illustration…

The memory is still clear.  I could take you to the spot.  It stung me and I didn’t respond that well.

It was a Sunday and I had given everything I had to inspire my people to join me in an important ministry endeavor.  The closing prayer had been given and I was greeting people as they left.  A couple greeted me and cheerfully informed me that they would not be participating in the endeavor because they would be out of town for some R&R.    

And then the wife patted me on the shoulder and said, “But Pastor, we’ll be with you in spirit.”

I usually do better, but I was tired that day and my social skills filters were not working as good as they should and I responded (no happy smile on my face), “Well that will not do me any good, I’d much rather you be with me in person.”

I could tell they were taken aback by my curt response.  Thankfully life moved on (and they didn’t!)…but I’ll never forgot that short encounter and how it illustrates the ministry of being present. 

Some things are so important that you must physically get involved.  Sending money or sending others has its place.  Praying for someone can be a good thing, but praying with someone is irreplaceable (think of the Garden of Gethsemane). 

“I’ll be thinking about you” is not nearly as helpful as “I’ll be there for you.” 

“I am sending my best wishes” feels very empty to the person who wishes you were with them.

Life is a lot like eating.  Fine dining has its place; a quick stop at your favorite fast food restaurant is sometimes the way to go…even grabbing a few quick calories at the local convenience store can get you through the mid-day brain drain, but eventually you need more than just food; you need food cooked-with-love by someone who prepared a meal just for you. It’s called home-cooking and there’s nothing that can replace it.  

The ONE THING for today: There are those times—those special moments when only your touch will make the difference.  Usually, it will be costly for you, but it is the only way for you to achieve what you hope to achieve.  It’s called the Ministry of being Present. 

And when you look back over your life, I promise you, it will not be the money you sent or the prayers you prayed that will bring you the most joy, it will be the people you actually touched and the things you actually crafted with your own hands that will bring you the most fulfillment. 

Bottom line, don’t ever despise rough and scarred hands or nail-pierced hands; they’re usually attached to a heart of love and those hands prove it.    

Blessings to all my dearly loved ILCOG ministers and members and to our friends and family beyond our borders.

David L. Kemp

Photo by Eldar Nazarov on Unsplash