“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers, against the powers,
against the world forces of this darkness,
against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Therefore, put on the full armor of God . . . .”
Ephesians 6:12, 13a
The truth is, I didn’t see it coming, When I agreed to attend a Counseling Conference with my niece-in-law, I was mainly excited about getting to spend four days with her. To be sure, there were several notable speakers slated and an interesting array of workshop topics offered that I trusted would be beneficial, but what I looked forward to most was spending quality time with Joyce..
Then about a week before the Conference was to begin, I received an email saying that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was going to be a guest speaker. My initial response was puzzlement: Why would a man so busy traveling around the globe putting out political fires, make time to speak to a gathering of Christian counselors? Along with that thought, I also wondered if there would be any sort of political agenda pressed that could be divisive in a setting of several thousand attendees–IF he came at all? Not once did I anticipate how what he said would actually impact me . . . .
Finally the Conference date came. It was great to spend time connecting with Joyce and have an opportunity to hear notable people in the Christian counseling realm speak. For me, the best part was chatting with Joyce about what we had seen and heard at the end of each day.
On the morning Mr. Pompeo was scheduled to speak, the Conference atmosphere was charged with electricity. After being cleared by a group of security people, only those with Conference badges were allowed to enter the auditorium. As Mr. Pompeo was introduced I was impressed by his background–especially that he graduated first in his class from West Point! When he finally stepped up to speak, he put everyone at ease as he shared his testimony about becoming a follower of Christ as a cadet at West Point–thanks to two fellow cadets who faithfully ministered to him. As to why he agreed to speak to a an auditorium full of counselors, he likened his role at the State Department to that of a counselor:
“Helping people in crisis as a force for good.”
Of all the speakers I was privileged to hear at the Conference, it was that simple statement that most succinctly expressed, not only what should be at the root of meaningful counseling, but also how Christians in every walk of life can best minister to a hurting world. It is a reminder that ultimately, we are in a spiritual battle that cannot be won apart from loving our neighbor in Christ.
In his talk Mr. Pompeo focused on responsible Christian leadership, breaking it down into three areas: Disposition, Dialogue and Decision. The following is my take from what he said about helping people in crisis as a force for good:
- A Humble Disposition: Relies on God to help us as we are transformed each day. The Apostle Paul wrote:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–
His good, pleasing and perfect will.”
When we humbly rely on God rather than allowing the influences of the world determine our steps, we are transformed, reflecting the light and hope of Jesus to those He puts on our path. I find this picture the Apostle Paul projects of the spiritual battle being waged around us helpful:
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives
in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us
to spread the aroma of the knowledge of Him everywhere.
For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ
among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.
To the one we are an aroma that brings death;
to the other, an aroma that brings life.
And who is equal to such a task?
Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit.
On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity,
as those sent from God.”
II Corinthians 2:14-17
2. Truthful Dialogue that reflects Christ:
Listening well and asking questions that underscore a desire to fully understand, opens the door to meaningful dialogue. When our interactions with those in crisis are couched in such humility, the light of truth can penetrate darkness in unimaginable ways.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak
and slow to become angry . . . .”
The added benefit of such humility is that as we are less likely to speak with a haughty attitude that tend to build walls rather than break through them.
3. Prayerful Decision:
Our actions and attitudes should reflect our commitment to prayer as we are faithful in stewardship and intentional in defending human dignity.
“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
Mr. Pompeo concluded his talk by saying that helping others get into God’s Word personally is key to being a force for good.
The truth of Mr. Pompeo’s concluding remark, that the key to helping hurting people as a force for good is in exposing them to the wisdom of Scripture, cannot be overstated. In what is believed to be the last letter written by Paul before he was killed, he made this declaration:
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful
for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped
for every good work.”
II Timothy 3:16-17
It is the Scriptures, combined with the life-giving breath of the Holy Spirit, that bring about meaningful change in people. To be a force for good in a hurting world requires that Christians humbly reflect the undeserved love and mercy we have received. I didn’t expect to be touched so deeply by the simple message of a fellow servant of Christ . . . but I was. I share this with you, in the hope that you will also be encouraged and strengthened–to move forward in the love and mercy of Jesus in whatever battle you face.
All to His Glory!