A note from Kelly King: In today’s article, Kaye mentions some LifeWay resources that might be helpful in your journey of helping women in crisis. Women Reaching Women in Crisis is available in ebook form only, and you may also consider one of the chapters in Ministry to Women: The Essential Guide to Leading Women in the Local Church. Of course, there are many helpful resources on pastoral counseling that are available at LifeWay.com.
Years ago I wrote about helping those who are hurting in a LifeWay publication called, Women Reaching Women in Crisis. It is a multi-author resource you may find useful as you minister to hurting women. Additionally, LifeWay has published updated and current resources that will be helpful as well.
You may not be a crisis counselor, but every day you encounter people (women) in crisis. In my experience with helping those who are hurting, it has been useful to have mental hooks to help organize my thoughts. The framework I use in helping others is: personal preparation, the ministry of presence, and referrals, resources, and pastoral care.
Your own physical, emotional, and spiritual health is paramount to being an effective helper. Care for your own soul by staying connected to the Lord through His Word and through authentic, vulnerable relationships with others. Maintain a healthy, personal prayer life and serve others often. Understand your own wounding and wrestle down your own painful issues with a mentor or counselor. Never make helping others about trying to resolve your own pain; this will only hurt you both.
Ministry of Presence
I cannot say enough about the value of simply being present with someone in their pain. This was at the heart of the life and ministry of Jesus. If God gives you the opportunity to be with someone in pain, consider this sacred space. It is your invitation from the Spirit to communicate the heart of Jesus and quite often this is done without words. The ministry of presence includes active listening, showing empathy, and praying. Active listening is simply listening well to her story, looking at her, listening without judgment, and reflecting back what she is saying for clarity. It is not counseling or advice giving; it is listening. The ministry of presence also involves showing empathy. Empathy is not sympathy. Empathy enters in. Empathy makes a choice to connect and stand with, cry with, and walk with. And finally, pray. Praying for people is foundational to our faith. When you pray, pray with courage, faith, and belief. Never “counsel” as you pray.
Referrals, Resources, and Pastoral Care
Unless you are a professional counselor, you will likely make referrals to someone in the professional community. Create a network of resources and referrals for women in crises of all kinds. No one person can carry the weight of a crisis alone, so having a network of support at many levels is vitally important. Pastoral care from your church or hers is another way to offer support. This can be in the form of counsel, meals, visits, calls, prayer, and care group or small group support.
This is the framework I use as I minister to hurting women. I pray this has been helpful for you in your ministry. Please check out LifeWay’s resources; they are a gold mine of caring, helpful, and relevant information!
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. 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. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.