Ministry to the heart is the ability to discern what’s really going on in a person or audience through their unintended cues. It’s like a radar which will enable you to map the way you should travel. Some people in ministry seem to be born with this and others, like myself, develop it with experience. The bottom line is that we need it to minister to the heart. Whether you minister one-on-one, small group or speak to large audiences, nothing will impact without proper contact.
Here are some simple steps to develop your radar:
1. Arrive early and watch people choose their seats. If they sit in the back, they may be expecting a sermon or reluctant. If they sit up front, they may be expecting a show or may be excited.
2. Listen to the noise level before they sit. You can tell whether people enjoy one another by this. Do they move around talking to everyone there or do they stay in little groups? Who is standing or sitting alone? How well is the group connected?
3. How do people laugh? Is it hearty or is it hollow? Are they laughing from the heart or courteously? This may reveal stress in someones life or pain. If speaking to a large audience ask who is laughing? Is it just the older crowd? If the younger people are not laughing you may not be connecting with their heart.
4. Watch the face and especially the eyes. The old speaking advice that you should look above heads is incorrect if you want to minister to hearts. If you don’t look at the faces you can’t see where they are. The eyes really are the window to the soul. I was in the audience once and people were softly weeping. The Holy Spirit was working and the perfect time for an altar call. The speaker never gave an altar call. When I spoke to the speaker afterward he did not realize anyone was crying or that God was moving hearts.
I have never seen anyone who has a better radar than John Maxwell. There were times when he would give an altar call BEFORE the message. He is a master at connecting with individuals or groups. The point is he understands how to read people and minister to hearts.
How is it possible to use “radar” and still keep your words coming out straight? It’s like learning to drive a car. As a teen I took driver education at school. In the beginning I was overwhelmed with instructions. But before long I could drive with ease. Now it is second nature. The mind is capable of doing fantastic things once we get interested in developing it.
5. Ministry to the heart requires that your ministry is from an overflow of your walk with God. This is the most important. I know the difference well because I have done both. This is where you take a spiritual inventory. How is your own walk with the Lord? How are your devotions? How is your prayer life? How much have you prayed for the individual or group you will be meeting with? Are you listening to the Lord in regard to those you minister to? In addition to speaking I do one-on-one discipleship and life coaching. The coaching session may be just under an hour but prior to that time I need to pray for that person. It is humbling to understand that my prayer for people does so much more than I will ever be capable of.
As I continue to grow spiritually God continues to teach me that a lesson plan or a message is just a map. If I am tuned in to the ultimate radar I will often be instructed of a better route. The end result being ministry to the heart.