How often do we, in Christian ministry, charge full-steam ahead thinking we know the needs of those we serve? How frequently do we act with the best of intentions, yet never stop to listen to the Lord or his people? I will confess that I have made that mistake before, at least once in a painfully memorable way. The net result of having done this was a disastrous situation that was stressful to remove myself from and that affected others around me.
Sadly, it’s big errors like this that can teach us an important life-lesson that could be more easily learned. As my father always used to tell me, “You have two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you talk!” In other words, let those you serve give you their two cents worth on their needs. What we might assume our population might like, they may actually hate or already have covered.
Also, observe with your eyes where you are seeing those to whom you minister struggle. Ponder how you might help and then run it past your target group. They can dismiss your idea, affirm the validity of your idea or even improve upon your idea. They can help you to help them.
Additionally, pray for those you serve. Develop relationships. Tune in to mood. The unseen and unspoken can give you terrific insights that can’t be gained any other way.
Finally, ask your colleagues and peers to give their two cents worth. This can keep you from reinventing the wheel. Replicating a good model that can be transferred into your own ministry work is making wise use of your time. And they may also see areas that need attention from a more removed perch. Often, those that are not immediately involved in our ministry can see gaps more readily from the outside. Value the input you get from colleagues and peers.
All this being said, let me issue this caution, don’t be too quick to act on feedback that you receive. Always pray about what you’ve heard, and seek input from the Holy Spirit. You need His discernment first and foremost. Otherwise, you will be swayed by a wide variety of whims or desires that confront you. After all, there can be times where we get some of those we serve who want white while others want black. If we, as leaders, are pushed about by that type of feedback, we will find ourselves spinning in circles going nowhere fast.
*Our 3/1/12 TweetChat will be focused on “Give Us Your 2 Cents Worth!” Join us to share what future topics on special needs ministry you would like to discuss.