By Barbara Carruth
I can’t begin to tell you all I have learned since I became a Stephen Minister. The learning didn't stop when the training sessions ended…it only began. Although participation in this ministry comes from a desire to serve and care for others, I encountered tremendous growth myself.
Because of confidentiality I cannot tell you who our care receivers were or what happened, but any one of us Stephen Ministers can tell you how much we have grown, personally and spiritually, by seeing Jesus work through us to change the life of another person. I find myself using my caring ministry skills on everyone with whom I interact. I've learned to listen, listen, listen. I've learned that when you become quiet is when you truly hear.
I can't say enough about the importance of attending the Stephen Ministry meetings. As much as I am not a "meeting" person, these meetings are priceless. Sometimes the reality of life is hard to handle, but we, as Stephen Ministers, try to understand it from many different angles. We laugh, we cry, we pray, we share in each other's joys and sorrows. We see the power of prayer in our caregiver’s lives as we trust in the Lord to be the cure-giver. Each time I leave a meeting I feel so alive and rejuvenated. Stephen Leaders continue to teach us, nurture us, and care about us.
I've come to know many people I'd never have met had it not been for the Stephen Ministry program. Care receivers have visually taken me many places and into many situations. They have shared their innermost thoughts, their tears--whether of sadness or joy--their fears and their stories that they had stashed away in their souls because there was no one to tell them to.
Each care receiver has touched my heart in her own special way. Some I can no longer visit because they have moved away or are now watching from above, but I think of them often. Some no longer need someone to listen or spend time with them, but they are in my thoughts. I enjoy the time spent with each one of them. They've become dear friends to cherish.
I also had a time in my life when I needed a Stephen Minister myself. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help when you encounter a difficult time. God created us not only to give help to others but to receive help when we need it. My Stephen Minister came week after week and she prayed for me, just for me, and that’s really powerful.
Being a caregiver has taught me things about life I couldn't have learned anywhere else. I am so glad I became a Stephen Minister; and three years later, a Stephen Leader. You are asked to serve for at least 2 years, but I can't see myself pulling away. My experiences as a Stephen Minister will always be with me. Hopefully what I give is even half of what I receive.
The very best compliment I received as a Stephen Minister was one day when my care receiver was introducing me to her family. She said, “This is my really, really, really good friend Barbara.”
- Barbara Carruth
If you are interested in becoming a Stephen Minister or you need the support of a Stephen Minister, please contact Rev. Doug Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 972-539-8547 ext. 242. Learn more about Stephen Ministry at stephenministries.org.