A Note from Kelly King: I’m so appreciative of Kaye Hurta. She has led worship at all of our YOU Lead conferences this year—and many previous years. She knows how to reach the heart of women leaders who are hurting and carrying pain. Today, she shares how you can develop a heart of compassion for those in your ministry who are hurting.
The first funeral I ever attended was for my grandpa. It was in a small town in Michigan. I was six. For nearly 50 years now I have attended or participated in countless others—aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, my mom, my dad.
Perhaps you have attended a few. If so, you may have noticed the six people, usually dear friends, assigned as pallbearers. Their role is to carry the casket from the service to the hearse and again to the graveside. In doing so, they are symbolically carrying the weight of the pain of the loss for the family.
The term pallbearer has an interesting origin. A “pall” is a heavy cloth draped over a coffin; a pallbearer is someone who bears the coffin, which the pall covers.
Scripture invites us all to be pallbearers, and I would go so far as to say, the health of your (women’s) ministry depends on your ability to carry the casket well. Galatians 6:2 says this, “Carry one another’s burdens; in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” The context of this verse is set against the backdrop of those trapped by the pain of sin. However, Romans 15:1 extends that obligation, “Now we who are strong have an obligation to bear the weaknesses of those without strength, and not to please ourselves.”
One thing I have learned in my ministry years is this: women (all people, really) are carrying enormous amounts of pain. Pain from sin committed by them and sin committed against them. Pain from addictions, broken relationships, rejection, betrayal, abuse, and the list goes on. Pain causes the soil of our souls to be wounded, and the enemy (counterfeiter that he is) loves to plant seeds in our wounded soil. We are seeing the fruit grown from these plantings—unforgiveness, bitterness, unbelief, doubt, despair, depression, apathy, shame, suicidal thoughts, and more. A heavy weight is draped over what seems dead in their lives; this weight is usually named shame and self-contempt. They need pall bearers.
Let’s decide today to take back what the enemy has stolen. Let’s choose to fight for one another and to carry one another’s burdens.
Here are five simple ways you can help someone in pain:
1. Show up. When someone you know is in pain or in a crisis, show up. Show up not for the purpose of sharing or teaching, but just to be present with them in their pain.
2. Ask questions. When they are ready, invite them to go deeper into their story; ask clarifying questions. And when they begin to share…
3. Listen. Really, listen. Don’t solve or fix. Listen to what they are saying and let that be enough. If your follow up response is, “You need to…,” stop yourself. Instead, respond to what you are hearing and the emotion behind it. Sometimes only two words are needed as a follow-up: “I’m sorry.”
4. Suspend Judgment. Regardless of what you hear, suspend judgment and refrain from making critical opinion statements. Resist the urge to turn the conversation to yourself—even if you have a relatable anecdote. Be generous of spirit in the way you listen. Be vulnerable and willing to understand the story behind the words of the other. Suspending judgment does not mean you have to be in agreement with their statements—it simply means you are willing to let them be heard and respect their humanity.
5. Maintain eye contact. It sounds simple and obvious, but really, how many times has someone asked you a question and just as you were answering, they looked away at something or someone else? Listening involves looking. Listen not only to their words but their body language as well. Are they tense, relaxed, exhausted, fearful, anxious? These are all clues and cues to help you with number two: asking questions.
If we get this right—if we listen well and carry the pain of others—we become part of their healing instead of their wounding. When we do this well we extend the heart of Christ in the ministry of binding up the brokenhearted. When we do this well we create a unique and long-lasting connection in the community we’re striving to create.
Maybe, just maybe by carrying someone’s pain we give their souls space to breathe and believe again in Jesus who came to rescue, redeem, and restore—one story at a time.
Will you carry her casket?
Kaye has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University. She is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources and leads worship for YOU Lead events. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. “I was a wounded, lonely Midwest farm girl until the Divine Romancer swept me off my feet. I want to steward my story well so that others can find Him in their stories and be fully satisfied.” Kaye met and married her husband, Chris, in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. They live in the Chicago burbs where they are both on staff at Willow Creek Community Church. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.