Often in the ministry, one of the biggest shortcomings that plagues all ministers is that we are not able to be in every place, at every time, for every reason, to help in every situation. It goes without saying that if a minister could duplicate themselves about five times, we would be very happy with that.
Since that is not physically possible, and because we have to live with the limitation of being in one place at one time to help in one circumstance at the moment, as a pastor, I am always looking for ways to help expand and minister, even when I am not there.
One of the biggest places that is needed is in the passing of a loved one. This requires a lot of time, conversations, prayers, listening, and just being there for those who need it. However, there are going to be times when we, as pastors, are not going to be available. How do we continue ministering and serving in those moments?
This is where a good book is a game changer. It does not completely negate the need for physical and personable communication, but in the moments when the pastor is not available or in the moments when the feelings are raw and unknown, a book that is right in the shelf or coffee table becomes a very powerful tool. This tool works for the pastor as it can minister when he can not, and it works for the berevied because it can also help them through their loss.
In my eleven years of ministry, especially dealing with the loss and pain of loved ones, no book (outside the Bible of course) have I turned to more than Good Grief. This book is powerful for it delves into the ten stages of grief and helps, from a strong Biblical perspective, to navigate these stages.
This is the updated version of the classic, and while it covers more than just the loss and grief of death, the help it provides is no less amazing. It is not a hard to read book, a merely eighty-eight pages, if we do not count the afterward at the end. The thing about this book I love is found in its simplicity. It is as though there is a pastor sitting in the room. It is as though there is someone who is there to listen.
One of the biggest lessons I learned from my own mentor, Pastor Chuck Davis, is that sometimes the best ministry is not said or done with words. It is simply having the ministry of presence.
Our presence, can often times be more powerful than any word we may speak.
I have never forgotten that and there are times where all I can do is pray with the individual, and then just sit and listen and answer questions if they ask, or simply just sit and be a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to listen to them. In short, sometimes, merely being present is better than having a well thought out sentance.
Therefore, while this book may not be one that is rushed out to grab to read, I would encourage having a couple on hand to give to those who are suffering from loss. It can and will minister to them, even when a pastor, or friend, are not able to be there with them.