In addition to the benefits of actually being ministered to, which are too numerous to even begin to list, the idea that someone else could minister to us at all requires humility.
It reminds us of the vulnerability of being loved.
See, love isn't real and ministry isn't meaningful unless there's something authentic about it. And in order for there to be something authentic about it, the man who stands in need of God must be real about himself. He must say what it is that's on his mind, what it is that's holding his heart back, his hopes, his fears, his dreams. He must be real about himself, who he is at the very core of his being - who God created him to be and where his fallen flesh has found him.
This is the kind of vulnerability that is being offered to us all the time as ministers, but unless we routinely put ourselves in the shoes of the ministered, it's so easy for us to forget what it feels like. It's easy for us to forget what it takes to be so raw, so real. It's so easy for us to forget to be tender and human with what is tender and human in the person across from us.
We can get so confident in grace that we forget what it's like to be in desperate need of it. That's why we have to keep putting ourselves in a position to receive it, where it's not just taken for granted but craved and necessary, where it's not just assumed, but spoken. Spoken by someone who knows our most authentic self.
We can get so comfortable with prayer that we don't even have to think about it. And often, we don't. That's why we have to keep inviting others to pray for us, so that we can hear what it sounds like for someone to be believing God for us. Believing that God is good to us. That way, we can pray anew, not just believing in God, but believing in the God that is for the person who so desperately needs Him.
I'm not very good at these things, but I'm getting better. The kind of vulnerability it takes to let others minister to me is difficult. I've often been credited with having all the answers, so it's tough to admit that I have questions. I've often been called on to stand strong, so it's hard to show moments of weakness. I don't think I'm alone in this. I think it's a problem for a lot of ministers, who are just expected to know so much and believe so wholly and to trust so fully that the world just seems to forget that even ministers need ministered to.
But at the same time, I am unspeakably thankful - and I think most of us are - for the handful of persons in my life who can look at me and know when I'm in need. They can just catch a glimpse of me and know that I still know the truth, but right now, I need to hear them speak it. They can just sense those moments when I haven't stopped praying, but I need them to start. They call me on my bluffs and see right through my need to constantly pretend that all is well. (All is well, but all doesn't always feel well.)
And every time they do, I am reminded of the sacredness of my own work. I'm reminded of the vulnerability that I'm privy to, to the real, messy, authentic places of persons' lives that they just let me in. Because they have to.
It's the vulnerability required for being loved.
May we who so often do the loving never forget that.