The Power of Presence — Incarnational Ministry

Pastor, one of the two biggest moments in the history of the cosmos centers upon the ministry of presence. What is the incarnation if it is not the ministry of presence? Think about the promises given to us in scripture promising that “God is with us.”  Remember Psalms 23: 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”  Think of Jesus’ words to his disciples.  Accompanying the commandment to go to the ends of the earth is his promise “And I am with you….”  And dare we forget the promise of the coming encourager–even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (Joh 14:17)  Immanuel. God with us. The Word became flesh. That is a rock to which our souls anchor themselves. A promise that inspires risk-taking Gospel advance. And a sound principle for gospel ministry. 

 

Probably nothing has the power to communicate and share love like presence.  This investment of time, energy, and caring reveals to another how important they are to you.  Being present with people demonstrates the love of God that we have experienced. It is loving as we have been loved.  The ministry of being there brings the power of love and comfort to bear on the hurt or difficulty, but also in joy and hope. When we stand with people in love we are simply doing our best to echo in a frail human way, Paul’s emphatic statement about God in Romans 8:35—who can separate us from the love of Christ?  The answer comes loud and clear “nothing” can separate us from this great love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  With the ministry of presence, we affirm this with one another.

 

Presence is also powerful because it enables us to lend strength to another.  I like it that the Holy Spirit is called the paraclete, the one called alongside.  That is what we do for each other.  We walk with another to lend them our strength and support for their hour of need.  We have all applauded those moments in the sports world when athletes gather to offer their support to another.  Many of us witnessed the ministry of presence of so many fellow players with the recent injury of Demar Hamlin of the Buffalo Bills.  Many gathered on the field to be present with him.  We are fellow encouragers and supporters.  We can lend our power and strength to another to help them get through the difficult hour. But we can do the same thing in moments of joy. Every time you attend a wedding you are affirming them with your presence! You may say or do nothing on the day, but you are there!

 

Being there allows us to minister and share the suffering, the hurt and the joy.  This is being compassionate—feeling what they feel with them.  Over the years I have had many people say to me, “Well I would go, but I don’t know what to say.”  You don’t have to say anything, just go be with them.  Presence is a powerful way to say, “I care about you.” Presence is a gift of time, energy and investment to the hurting and to those in joy.  Many times, if not all the time, being there makes a bigger difference than any words we might say. 

 

The power of presence enables the power of touch—a held hand, a hand on or around the shoulders, a hug.  These are powerful gifts to the hurting.  Sometimes read through the life of Jesus and look for those the master touched, and you will see this power of his presence connected to the power of his touch.

 

Understanding and sharing presence is hard because most of us are used to doing.  It shows in our conversation—how can I help?  What can I do?  So often, if there is not something to do or help with, we stay away.  But when we stay away, we may miss the greater opportunity to share and help.  Presence is sharing yourself with someone, not your money, not your food, not your skill, but you, sharing yourself with them.  Eventually, the memories of food and deeds will fade, but the gift of presence is remembered forever.

 

Dennis Taylor is a long-time Oklahoma Baptist pastor and retired from First Baptist Church Okmulgee. He can be reached at dennisjtaylor52@outlook.com.

Similar Posts

Three Gospel Relationships

When I was in elementary school, our classrooms were heated by a boiler. It would heat water to the point of steam which would then travel through pipes to a radiator and heat the room. This is literally an “old school” method of heating.              One day our...

Ministry is About Relationships

John Maxwell popularized the leadership quip “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” True enough. Hang around in ministry for a hot minute and you recognize that even leadership depends upon relationships. Oklahoma Baptists recently welcomed Ken Sande to our...

What Pastors Need to Know About Grief

What Pastors Need to Know About Grief In March of 2004 my wife of 27 years and 18-year-old daughter were killed in a car wreck on the Indian Nations Turnpike in Oklahoma.  By that time in my ministry as a pastor I had done dozens of funerals.  But I had no idea about...

How to successfully follow a long-term/beloved pastor

Oh, “you have big shoes to fill” has been uttered through the vocal chords of church members for decades without a scriptural filter to stop it. Both seasoned and unseasoned pastors have been on the receiving end of the “sharp” message meant to acknowledge what was and forewarn what is.

Preaching the Gospel through all elements of the Worship Service

Seeking to ensure our worship services bring glory to the Lord and impact those gathered can feel daunting.  Though not exhaustive, here are six ways to transform our public worship experience by seizing every element for the glory of Christ: Revelation &...

Working with the Minister of Music to Create Powerful Worship

Worship is a vital part of any effective ministry. The relationship between pastor and minister of music is key to consistently presenting powerful sermons with music and praise that compliments and supports the pastor’s message. The pastor and minister of music need...

7 A’s of Confession

Living at peace with God, ourselves, and others is essential for our witness for Christ.  Everything God does He does in love. He is always working things out for the good.  Even in the midst of conflict, if we allow Him to, He will work things out for our good.  Acts...

How a Pastor CAN and CANNOT Lead the Church through the Pulpit

Through the pulpit, a pastor can lead the church by how he preaches. People will remember how we preach long after they forget what we preach.

Incorporating Apologetics Into Your Ministry

A few years ago I talked with a college student who had been a part of our ministry at Olivet.  As we talked I mentioned some of the other students in our community that he had graduated with who were known as followers of Jesus during their high school years.  In the...

10 Things I didn’t know that I didn’t know about moving from Student Ministry to being a Pastor

I’m sure my context is different than others after serving in student Ministry for just shy of 25 years. I felt God’s call to be a pastor and have served in that role for more than a year.