A Sympathetic Ministry Needed

EDITORIAL KEYNOTES: A Sympathetic Ministry Needed

"Do your people know you love them? How do you express it?"

Two short sentences in the Spirit of prophecy set the soul of the minister to dreaming; They do more than that. Not only do they set before him a lofty ideal, but they also cause him to examine his own heart and measure the supply of tenderness stored there for generous use in these intense times. The sentences are these: "His tender compassion fell with a touch of healing upon weary and troubled hearts. Even amid the turbulence of angry enemies He was surrounded with an atmosphere of peace." The Desire of Ages, P. 254.

In days such as these when the deep lines of apprehension are grooved upon the brow of the masses; when fear, brooding, and haunting seem to be -relentlessly pursuing humanity, surely struggling humanity should be able to find in the Adventist ministry men of -faith, courage, and understanding sympathy. These are not times when the unsympathetic can long endure or flourish. Especially is this true in the gospel ministry.

The world does not expect anything of its spiritual leadership except spiritual strength. To its economists it entrusts economic guidance; to its political leaders it entrusts political leadership; to military officers it be stows its confidence for defense; to the courts it looks for honest adjudication of disputes; but for its heartaches, sorrows, and disappointments and for a bright promise for tomorrow it instinctively turns to the minister.

The present popularity of the psychoanalyst, mental hygienist, and psychiatrist is abundant evidence of the disturbed and troubled sea through which the multitudes pass. The astonishing rise of divorce and the alarming col lapse of society's basic structure, the home, indicate the strain of normal, everyday living.

Why should the minister be by-passed by the people? How is it that the professional counselor is so frequently sought out for guidance and direction? Should the minister not be known for his integrity and sacred guardian ship of professional confidences? Should he not be sought after for spiritual prescriptions capable of relieving the tensions, fears, and frustrations of our intense day? Should not the minister, of all men on earth, be sympathetic to every need and be easily approachable and accessible?

When a minister is constantly conveying the impression that he is too busy to be bothered by the "trivial" problems so common among the people, when on a visiting mission he is too rushed to be seated and listen sympathetically to the heart cry of a disillusioned soul he is indeed too busy with that which is secondary, and his primary ministry is relegated to a subordinate place. When he hears the anxious call of a mother in behalf of her sick baby, when a wayward child is the object of a parent's plea, when an unbelieving husband needs sympathetic love and attention, when these and multiplied other pleas are rolled upon the minister's heart without a sympathetic response on his part, he has immeasurably lost his influence and actually in a sense disqualified himself for the work of a saving ministry.

What a privilege it is to extend on every side a. touch of healing! Compassion cannot be purchased. It is not obtained in a theological course or .secured in a university. Love, generosity, sympathy, tact, and a great heart come only by personal communion with Christ Himself, the source of all these qualities. Of course, the gospel ministry costs something. It costs a man all selfish ambition. It demands undivided lives. It requires long night vigils and days of intense ministry with the people. It exacts hours of study and concentration on the theme of his life the ministry of salvation. It allows of no time or energy to be given to the world! Fellow evangelist and pastor, honestly now, how do you measure up to the demands made upon you? How great is your stock pile of sympathy, love, and compassion? Do your people know you love them? How do you express it?

 

 

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May 1950

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