Hold Their Hands

I love my sons equally. In my heart, there is no distinction between them, but they have vastly different personalities and abilities. One of my sons is clumsy, a king of klutz, a professional of pratfalls. He could trip over a breeze. I am the opposite; I have the skill of a mountain goat, skittering across rocks. It is rare for me to hit the ground, and my son practically lives on the floor. And do you know what I do? I hold his hand. Yep, because if he falls, and I know he will, I want to be there to keep him from getting hurt or stumbling. If I can walk in such a way that helps him keep his balance, I will do that.  
As I began to unpack the totality of ministry, there was a passage that hit close to home. It made me pause because of the gravity of the section. Paul is writing his second (possibly third) letter to the church in Corinth. He is establishing the genuineness of his heart and the authenticity of his message. Yet, in this passage, he states the hallmarks of a “true minister.” I don’t believe that a person must undergo each of these situations; however, we should all prepare to have them present in their lives. He also provides a template for how ministers should behave, which we can all apply to our behaviors.
2 Corinthians 6:3-10 NLT – “We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. 4 In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. 5 We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food. 6 We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love. 7 We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us. We use the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defense. 8 We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us. We are honest, but they call us impostors. 9 We are ignored, even though we are well known. We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed. 10 Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.”
There is no doubt that Paul and his companions endured more trials than I pray I will ever need to face. Verse five is enough to make any devout follower of Christ pause momentarily. Yet we see the sincerity of God’s intentions lived out in the life of Paul as he brings good news to anyone who will listen.
Paul states that he will live in such a way that “no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry.” Living in this manner is a tall order. Paul took his ministry very seriously, and we often want to toe the line and find ways to be “friends with the world” (James 4:4). Paul’s goal was to live in such a way that others would be drawn closer to God because of his actions; even if it meant that he would suffer. Now, keep in mind that this is not asceticism, a mere outward showing of religiousness, but a desire to show the sincerity of his heart.
Some people have different aptitudes for balance and stability. My son is a prime example. However, if I chose to walk haphazardly through life, I would not benefit him. If I am aware of his penchant for falling but walk in such a way as to make him stumble more, what kind of parent would I be? I walk in such a way so that he won’t fall. Last week, we had a terrible ice storm. Did I walk next to him and chaotically and frantically flail? Or did I watch my footing a little more firmly? As a good example, I made my steps as sure as possible, not adding confusion to his life. Steady footsteps, walking in the light, and staying on the pathway are other great ways to minister to others.
As we minister, we should walk as steadily as possible so they won’t fall. We all can show others what a stable foundation provides. They can see the stability of our actions and choose not to live a life of slips and falls, instead planting their feet on a solid rock. We don’t live this way to shame or degrade them but to be an example. But this is most effective when engaging in their lives…when we Hold Their Hands.               

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