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How Leaders H.E.L.P.
by Tom Goodman
November 1, 2013

When believers suffer, how can church leaders help?

Church leadership isn't just about teaching lessons and organizing programs.  It's also about fellowship with those we lead as they go through the joys and sorrows of living.  Those of us who serve as deacons and teachers and pastors often wonder what their role is when faced with a church member's heartbreak.

After two high school graduates were killed in a car accident in his town of Humboldt, Iowa, Pastor Doug Wolter taught his church four ways to serve someone in grief.

H -- Hope, not answers.  When people are in the midst of suffering, they need hope more than answers.  Hope is not found in solving the problem, but running to a person: Jesus.  We may not know why everything happens, but we can hope in the person who understands suffering more than anyone and sympathizes with us in it.

E -- Enter into their pain; empathize with them.  Did you know that grieving with someone can be the single most helpful expression of love and care?  Weep with them.  Just be there for them and be with them.

L -- Listen to them and love them in tangible ways.  Seek to understand their situation.  James 1:19 says, "Be quick to listen and slow to speak."  If you must speak, tell them, "I am standing with you.  I am grieving with you."  And love them in tangible ways.  Make a meal.  Offer a small gift.  Spend time with them.

P -- Pray for them and patiently walk with them through the long journey of suffering.  In the deepest of suffering, some may find it hard to even pray.  We can intercede for them and carry this burden.  And oftentimes, after the initial help has arrived, we forget the one who is suffering over time.  But this is when the church is even more needed.  To patiently walk with them and be with them through the long road of suffering.

Thanks for your partnership in leadership with me at Hillcrest.  Let's offer this kind of H.E.L.P. when our members are hurting.

(Hat Tip: Justin Taylor)


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