Take Some Risks
Its that time of year again! A time to be reminded of what is happening with so many who are hurting around us. I do love it when there are weeks like #MentalhealthAwarenessWeek specifically geared towards a certain focus such as Breast Cancer, Lyme Disease or Mental Health. However, as a Church leader, I do wish there were a few things always on each leader’s radar as this is the world around us. People are really struggling, hurting deeply, and many feel very isolated due to the stigma or lack of response towards their suffering and struggles.
No one person, no one leader can do everything, but each of us can do a few things really well. Jesus told us, ‘not to look at the needs,’ as He knew if we did this we would be overwhelmed. I completely agree. If I look at the needs I am surrounded by daily, I would be overwhelmed not just by what I see, but the hopelessness in feeling I can’t do much about it. We will always have need. We will always have people around us who are hurting deeply and feeling overlooked in their pain. So were not to look for the need, we're to ask Jesus where He wants us to serve. I have found that when I’m serving those God has called me too, He also gives me a passion to do so. Its not a ‘have too’ but becomes more of a ‘get too.’
God calls each of us to certain people for certain times and for certain reasons. And where Jesus calls us to serve is then it becomes our responsibility to get equipped in where and what we’re called to serve in. As we take this week and focus on Mental Health, my encouragement is to take the words of Jesus and step into the world He calls you into. This is not only where we find our purpose, this is where we find life. I want to encourage you to take the following steps to be a person who changes the world for Jesus. You can make some easy, simple steps towards advancing the Kingdom of God.
When it comes to Mental Illness the area is massive. In fact, there is not a person you know, or a person you love who isn’t affected with some sort of mental health issue. Do you know someone who has anxiety? Do you know someone who has depression? Do you know someone who struggles with addictions or fights thoughts of self-harm? When you hear about someone who has hurt themselves, or is being self destructive in different ways, how does this make your heart feel? Understand what mental illness actually is, and see where your heart races. Check out www.mentalhealthaccesspack.org for a brilliant overview.
Find out if there are any community groups, support groups or places where you can get involved to be present. This isn’t about having all the answers; this is about taking the time to be present in other peoples lives. Being present is one of the most powerful tools in ministry. In fact, 99% of ministry is just showing up.
If there isn’t a community or support group, find out if you can start one. See if you’re church would be interested in allowing you to have a time where a group can meet, have some coffee and take a few minutes to share and receive ministry. Again, it’s the simplest forms of ministry that tend to be the most powerful. As a pastor I love nothing more than to have people come and tell me they want to start to group. Its music to my ears when people want to make a difference in serving others, especially in desiring to gather people to love and encourage them. This is The Church in action. You would be surprised to know just how much is missing for people in your neighborhood; just to have a place of non-judgment where they can feel a burden lift, knowing they aren’t alone. Again, find out where your heart gets stirred. Get equipped and learn more about that area, and then step into it. Take risks. There is no real change and there is no effective ministry without risk. Risk is how our faith is walked out.
If you are a Church leader, you have an amazing opportunity to understand what’s impacting people in your congregations. What are the main struggles concerning Mental Health? What seems to be keep coming up? Who within that group seems like a good candidate to facilitate a group for these people? For example, one thing I’ve found is mums who are caring for a child with a chronic illness, especially when it comes to Mental Health, not only feels completely isolated, but also very rejected. She often has no time for herself and doesn’t even know where to begin in reaching out for help. So you go to her, you make a place for her. Offer an hour of childcare for these moms where they can come to Church, receive support and just get a chance to breathe. I guarantee there will be older women and others within the Church whose hearts will be so drawn to loving on these and I guarantee it will have positive Kingdom impact on the whole family.
Get equipped. Learn as you go. Don’t wait until you know everything, but do learn as you go. Learn how to minister effectively to those who are in front of you. Ministry is learning to come alongside and bless, and encourage what our God is already doing. And Mental Health is an area where learning more is key.
You can do this! Don’t over think it. In fact, overthinking kills the risk-taker in all of us. Just go for it. The worst that can happen is that it doesn’t work. Who cares? To Jesus it matters and therefore it must matter to us. We must take some risks in reaching out to those affected and/or caring for those with Mental Illness. Together, we can be present in peoples lives and make a difference in advancing Gods Kingdom together. Just remember, every part matters.
Find out what you love? Is their any support or community group that exists to what I’m drawn to serve in? Start what you don’t see. Instead of giving up, be the difference and make the difference you want to see. Get equipped. Be an ongoing learner. Grow as you go.
Christy Wimber, 17/05/2016