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Caring Spiritually for Male Volunteers

January 2005
By: Jim Pye
"Sam" appeared at the center wanting to talk. His wife had divorced him and taken the house. He had lost his job and endured three surgeries. Sam was living in a motel. He was almost broke, severely depressed, and suicidal.

"Joe" suffers from a debilitating arthritic condition at the age of twenty-four. He has struggled financially to stay in school, pay his medical bills, and avoid addictive behaviors for dealing with pain.

"Ralph" has struggled with homosexual attractions throughout his teen years and young adulthood. From Scripture he knows that the same-sex attractions that beset him do not inhere to his true nature. He is committed to abstinence and complete emotional, psychological, and spiritual healing, but the fight is extremely difficult.

These men have all attended our volunteer training over the years and expressed a real desire to minister to other men. Each of their real-life battles underscores the importance of providing spiritual care for male volunteers. Not only does the men's ministry leader or male executive director have the opportunity to provide spiritual care for clients, he must also be a pastor to the male volunteers as well. There are three primary ways the male leadership in your centers can serve their men pastorally.

First, as a men's ministry leader, you should build relationships with the male volunteers. This is vital to the success of your men's ministry. Some may be uncomfortable entering an environment dominated by the presence of women. If they are the primary providers for their families, it may be more difficult to carve out time from their work schedules to volunteer. They need to know that you understand their initial unease and that you value their commitment. You can best convey that to them by investing in their lives and establishing a friendship with each of them.

As the executive director or men's ministry leader, show your male volunteers hospitality by inviting them to your home for dinner. Also, occasionally you might have lunch with them individually. Jesus built relationships with His disciples by sharing meals with them, many times in the context of ministry (Matthew 9:10). Demonstrate a sincere interest in their clients as well. Ask how their counseling sessions are going and encourage them in their relationships with their clients. Simply listening to their concerns and joys shows your interest in their ministry. Jesus also shared in the disciples' joy as they discovered the Holy Spirit at work through them.

A second way in which we can serve our male volunteers and staff is to support them when life is less than propitious. There may be times when one of your men faces a personal crisis, as was the case with Sam. It is incumbent upon us as men's ministry leaders to comfort our male volunteers, as we have been comforted. Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit has comforted us (literally "put courage into") so we can do the same for others (II Corinthians 1:3, 4).

Challenge
your men
to be
students
of the
Scriptures.

Your men will be encouraged when you support them and pray for them regularly. Paul expressed his care for Timothy in the second epistle to the young pastor: "Without ceasing I have remembrance of thee night and day; Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears" (II Timothy 1:3, 4). It is clear from this passage that Paul was committed to prayer and care for Timothy. Jesus was also diligent to cover His disciples with prayer, especially in times of personal crisis (John 17:9, 15; Luke 22:31, 32). He understood His intercession provided a supernatural protective covering for His apostles. Few experiences in a man's life are more powerful than his finding the courage to face down his trials with gritty faith. Allow God to use you to instill in your volunteers that inner strength.

Finally, the men's ministry leader has the opportunity to help male volunteers walk more closely with Christ and mature in their faith. The epistle to the Hebrews gives a call to Christian maturity and reminds us of the importance of sound doctrine (Hebrews 5:12-6:3). Knowing the Bible and understanding its teachings are foundational to sanctification. Challenge your men to be students of the Scriptures. If time and schedules permit, start a weekly Bible study with your volunteers. Each week a different man could teach something he has learned from his study of the Word. This routine gets them studying the Bible for themselves and builds their confidence to teach others. If they are not already taking part in a Bible study in their church, encourage them to do so.

Another method you might employ is to give them "thoughts of the week." These brief insights might include a challenging passage of Scripture or your own observation from society and culture. This fosters thinking from a biblical worldview about what's happening in the culture and in the world. As your male volunteers experience the spiritual blessing of the Lord's using them, they will be motivated to pursue Christ more fervently.

Your center can be a place where male volunteers enjoy significant growth as Christian men. They should see their ministry at the center as a personal spiritual benefit as well as an opportunity to serve. For men who have been wounded by sin, serving as a volunteer can bring restoration and healing

Jim Pye is Director of Men's Ministry at the Hope Pregnancy Centers of the Brazos Valley in Texas. He can be reached at jim@hopepregnancy.org.

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