September 12, 2013

Three Simple Ministries to Practice

Bishop Paul Marshall of the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania has suggested three simple "ministries" that could become part of our dealing with one another. They can bring transformation to those who give and receive them (from Messages in the Mall, pp. 14-15):

The Ministry of Encouragement
        Taking time to notice people, to thank them for what they do, can change the nature of an organization.  Do you ever just call someone, perhaps a colleague or a fellow volunteer, to tell them they are doing a great job or that you appreciated what they said at a meeting or a gathering? It will change both of you.

The Ministry of Curiosity
        I can count on the thumbs of one hand the number of times someone has seen something I've said or written on a controversial subject and called or written to me to ask why I said it, rather than just firing off a salvo that usually did not help matters.  How different to say "My, that's a different way to approach this; how did you come to that conclusion?"  By asking a question instead of attacking, instead of putting the other person on the defensive, you have started a conversation.

The Ministry of Cutting Slack
        Almost nobody gets up in the morning determined to be your enemy, or to ruin your day.  If something sounds different or potentially alienating, why not remember that communication is a complex process. ...  This ministry might also be called the ministry of not taking offense when none is intended....