We all fight it. The feeling of uselessness. The hollowness of helplessness. The longing to live unhindered. Depression quickly consumes hope and all our focus becomes inward. We start to lose any other-minded thoughts we should act upon, and we can sink into despair. We have nothing to offer.
It is a lie.
No one ever, ever loses their value or worth in ministering to others just because it looks different. Nor, are you off the hook because it’s “atypical”. We may adjust how we carry it out, but it’s just as important as corralling toddlers in the church nursery or running casseroles to the sick or grieving. Grab your Bible and read Paul’s story. I would venture to say the thorn in his side caused some “adjusting” of how he ministered. God didn’t say he couldn’t use the weak and weary, the frail and fragile. If we believe otherwise, we are believing Satan’s lies. Take a moment to ask the Lord for forgiveness for not trusting him to use you where you are in whatever shape you’re in. Ask our Father God to show you the ways HE has in mind to use you. I’m starting you off with seven ministry ideas.
1. Pray. The greatest help you can ever be to another human being is to approach the throne of God on their behalf. I cringed as the words tumbled out of my mouth, “I’ll be praying, I wish there was more I could do”. How dare I, a mere human, think any of my efforts (i.e physical work) could equal or surpass that of carrying another’s burden to the Lord in prayer. Don’t be fooled into believing a plate of cookies is more beneficial than the prayer of a sincere heart.
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:6
And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:15, 16
2. Hand write a note of encouragement to someone. A good old fashioned, penned letter that someone will find delightful when sorting through the bills and junk we retrieve from our mail boxes. Those notes are keepsakes, heirlooms. Hand written encouragement has a way of turning up months and years later, often at times when we need it the most.
I thank my God every time I remember you.
3. Choose one thing to be thankful for and start to praise God for it. Obsess on it. I promise it will lead to another praise and another. Today, before the day is done, share it with your family or caregiver. They will be BLESSED by your positivity. It is impossible to be angry and downcast while praising the Lord! Be contagious.
Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings(I) and pipe,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.
4. Get on your social media and be the bright spot to all your contacts. Facebook, Twitter, whatever it may be gets pretty ugly. I think the green-eyed monster lives there. It’s where comparisons start and harsh words flow. Grab your phone or computer and set out to bring The Light of the World to some of those dark posts. Maybe it will be in the form of your favorite scripture, a recognition of your gratefulness for the friendships, or a picture of a kitten. Seriously, who doesn’t get a smile out of a baby animal. If a thread has gone sour, be the person to stop the flow of poison.
A cheerful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones
5. Phone a friend. Yup, old fashioned phone call. You are blessed with the time to listen. This form of ministry helps you to stay in that other-minded frame of mind as you must engage in their life story. Don’t you sometimes get tired of people asking you how you are fully knowing they probably don’t really want to know, and they would need a medical degree to understand? Here’s your chance to minister through authentic interest in another person’s life. Ask, listen, engage. Maybe there is an elderly relative you rarely see who lives far away or maybe there is an elderly shut in your church or neighborhood who knows the heavy grey of long and lonely days. Break up their time with an unexpected treat of attention.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27
6. Minister to your family by putting your household in order. Yes, it is ministry to those who help care for you when you organize the tasks you can no longer do. Make a menu and the shopping list to go with it. Organize it so your shopper can efficiently get through the store. When chronic illness takes hold of our physical selves, we tend to allow ourselves to believe the lie that our usefulness and vitality have walked out the door with our health. Do not fall into Satan’s trap to trick you into complacency or total dependency. Put that brain to work and minister to your family by overseeing!
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
7. Prepare yourself for more ministry by storing up God’s word in your heart. Open up that Bible, friend! Read! Soak it in! Suffering people are often drawn to other suffering people as we look for understanding. What a gift! What a responsibility! You will need to have scriptures ready to roll off your tongue or fingertips at a moment’s notice. Hurting people need the hope we find in scriptures. While our words are helpful, they are nothing in comparison to our Lord’s.
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Pray and ponder how God might use you in ministry from home. Look for ways to become other-minded. Because we are all uniquely created with individual gifts, I’m sure many of you will have awesome ministry ideas. Join me by sharing your experiences and ideas in the comment section.