When your job involves people's lives, it's inevitable that you're going to deal with junk. I would say there are two different kinds of junk. There is the bad junk where people's personal sin keeps them from following God. Bad junk lashes out at others - like sitting in a discipleship appointment where the "disciplee" is defensive and blames you/ministry/the church etc. for the issues they haves. Not. Fun. At. All.
Then there is the good junk. It's those times of confession of sin. It's sharing your past full of sin done against you. It's sharing hurt so they can move forward in forgiveness. It's junk that is hard to hear, but you rejoice that it's in the light so healing can happen.
From my experience, I've seen LOTS of bad junk. Bad junk tends to come out easily because that's where trust is built or destroyed between "discipler" and "disciplee". So, in a way, bad junk can be good junk if dealt with correctly. All junk can be dealt with well if you make yourself a safe place.
What does it mean to be a safe place? Being a safe place means that you are an approachable, uplifting person to share real life with. There are lots of friends and family members that people share normal life with - the part of our lives we're fine with sharing with everyone. Normal life would be school challenges, activities with friends, things taught at church - the stuff you post to Facebook or that you share with Uncle Bob at Christmas dinner. But REAL life stuff is usually not the stuff that people easily share.
Sharing real life with others takes time, patience, endurance, and LOTS of good questions. Being a safe place is an investment of life, and not meant for the flakey or unavailable.
What kind of space do you create around you? Do you allow people into your life to ask you good, real, penetrating questions? Do you ask others good, real penetrating questions? When people share real life with you do treasure it and prayer for them through it, or do a little of the above and whole lot of talking to other people about their junk? Are you a safe place for friends, disciples, etc. to come to and be themselves?
Leah works with Master Plan Ministries at Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO. Other than watching college students' lives change, she enjoys getting her mind blown by God and His Word, watching sci fi, baking cupcakes, and spending time with her hunky husband.
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