March 25, 2020

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Be still and know that I am God! Psalm 46:5-6

It was during a discussion at a circle meeting when I casually mentioned that I was a Stephen Minister. Questions of interest and surprise immediately arose.
“Who needs a Stephen Minister?”
“What does a Stephen Minister do?”
“Why did you become a Stephen Minister?”

This sudden barrage of questions took me by surprise, and I started to share what, to my way of thinking, has been a call by God to this ministry. It was a response to a heartfelt and enthusiastic invitation of a Stephen Minister sharing her joy in this work. She challenged all of us in the morning congregation to listen and pray about whether or not God was calling us to this ministry. Without a doubt, I knew that the Holy Spirit was at work in me.

During the 50 hours of training that soon began, our class came to realize that we, ourselves, would have loved to have had a confidant with whom to share. Someone who truly listened to us as we poured out our heart. Someone other than family or a close friend, or even a pastor. Someone who accepted us as we were, loved us as we were, and didn’t try to FIX us. Someone we could trust completely to keep a confidence.

Our care receivers are free to admit to their Stephen Minister the many times they had failed or been made to feel like a failure. They needed to talk about the anger they were holding onto and the difficulty they often had to forgive a real or imagined hurt. Sometimes they admitted how terrified they were at their diagnosis of MS or cancer or a multitude of ailments. Sometimes for some care receivers, there were financial problems or the pain of loneliness. The multitude of losses that came with getting older seemed overwhelming. Loss of friends, loving spouses, familiar neighborhoods, states or even, for some, their country.

What a joy to be called by God to be a Stephen Minister, knowing all we were asked was to “be still and listen,” to love our care receivers into new lives of freedom embraced by God’s all-encompassing, all-forgiving, all-accepting love.

Grace-filled God, I come to you with a heart full of gratitude. Thank you for the wonderful gift of ministry to which I have been called. Thank you for all those who have answered your call to the many ministries in our church. Let us be faithful. In Jesus name, Amen.

Nancy Lassiter

About the Contributor:
Nancy Lassiter and her husband Gene joined First Presbyterian Church in 2011. She is involved in the Prayer Shawl ministry, Women’s Circle 5, and has been a member of the choir. Nancy is a retired educator who enjoys spending time with her six children, seven grandchildren, and one great granddaughter.