The Ministry of Silence By Tracie Fritcher Johnson
Women in leadership wear many hats. We organize work committees, orchestrate fun socials, and head up outreach endeavors. We pour into women and mentor others in their faith journey. We lend a helping hand and an attentive ear. As leaders, people look to us for guidance and help in navigating life’s problems. Because of our position, we often feel the need to respond with words of wisdom and give godly counsel. However, there are numerous situations when the ministry of silence is sometimes the best response.
Proverbs 17:27-28 reads “He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit. Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” Sometimes, even when our knowledge and experience provide wisdom we could share, a few words and silence is the best response. Here are a few scenarios in which holding the tongue provides a better outcome.
1.) Comforting someone who has experienced great loss.
When words cannot adequately convey your sympathy or compassion for a person and what they are going through, your presence goes further in showing your concern than words ever could. Simply sitting with someone in the pains of grief and loss demonstrate the ministry of silence. While the Bible has ample verses you could share about God healing the broken hearted, time is necessary before a person can think about moving forward and allowing God to heal their heart. Grieving must come first. The ministry of silence and presence allows a person to grieve fully, knowing they are loved and supported.
2.) When someone needs to talk it through.
Often people search you out and want to talk, but they do not necessarily want you to tell them how to fix the problem. Many times they have not processed through their problem far enough to tackle the solution head on. They are still wrestling with all the variables and just need someone to listen. During these times, when we know what needs to be done, it is hard to hold our tongue. However, saying “I’ll be praying with you.” is all that is needed. Checking back in with the person a few days later, after giving them time to wrestle through their own fears, emotions, and expectations, can provide a more productive time to share advice and biblical principles.
3.) When you don’t have the answer.
Whether it is a question on doctrine or a request for wise counsel, if you do not have ample knowledge or information to answer do not pretend you do. Leading well means being honest about your need to pray and seek God for direction before you share advice. The people we lead do not expect us to have all the answers at our fingertips. Knowing you are willing to spend time praying over their situation before you guide them will touch their heart and increase their respect and trust in you. In addition, sparing your words can keep you from sharing hasty advice that might be the wrong advice.
4.) When searching for the answer can facilitate spiritual growth.
In our instantaneous world, people are in the habit of getting what they want rather quickly. Many times, when those in our care have a question they immediately come to us for answers. Sure, they are capable of hitting their knees in prayer or digging in the Scriptures for themselves, but they believe coming to us is the quicker, thus better, option. In these cases, immediate answers from us minimize growth which occurs when one wrestles with God and searches for answers on their own. Yes, give them guidance, but rather than giving them answers, limit your words, walk alongside them, and guide them in finding the answers on their own. Keeping silent will ultimately teach them needed skills and strengthen their relationship with God.
The ministry of silence is a powerful tool that is often overlooked in haste. Serving people well does not equate to supplying answers or words of wisdom each and every time. As women in ministry, we need to listen to the Spirit and allow God to prompt us when to speak and when to remain silent.
Tracie Fritcher Johnson juggles numerous responsibilities. At home, she is a wife, mother of three, and finder of all things missing. At her secular job, Tracie counsels children and assists as Vice Principal at a local Christian school. Tracie is also active in ministry, serving as Leadership Pastor for Crossroads Apostolic Ministries in Taylorville, IL under the leadership of Pastors Jason and Kristin Hoffmann. Tracie has written numerous in-depth bible studies and devotionals which are available through The Pentecostal Publishing House. Tracie loves to come alongside others through discipleship and established Response to Grace (RTG) Ministries as an online platform for engaging people in apostolic bible study. She invites you to join her at www.responsetogracestudy.org or connect with her on the ministry Facebook page.
Copyright 2015 Tracie Frichner Johnson and Crystal Schmalz Ministries