Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Great Teacher

This is an account of my efforts to put into action what I learn while reading the Bible, an account of my journey to become closer to God.

I started writing this blog four years ago, and it has undergone a few changes in direction since that time, but I’m happiest with it now. Dang, I only had to post nearly 600 articles before I got it right!

Last night was my last class in preparation to become a Stephen Minister! I made a number of friends along the way, especially my prayer partner Carla, and accomplished some great Biblical reading on the subject of caring for others. I’m eager to get started in this great ministry.

Today’s post is one that I wrote for Touched By Service:

The Stephen Ministry, a one-to-one lay ministry offered by Perimeter Church, utilizes well-trained men and women to provide individuals in our congregation and community with confidential, distinctively Christian care and support to help them deal with any number of life's difficult circumstances.

In order for anyone to become well trained, that person must first be a student of a well qualified trainer. David “Dave” Routly, Licensed Professional Counselor and a member of Perimeter Church, volunteers as a trainer for the Stephen Ministry.

I had lunch with Dave recently to discuss his passion for teaching, counseling, and the ministry. Here’s a recap of our conversation:

Greg: Let’s begin with an introduction. Tell me about yourself and what led you to your career.

Dave: I grew up as a pastor’s kid in the Salvation Army, a denomination that is very much concerned about serving other people. Serving has always been a major part of my family culture. When I was sixteen I began working at summer camps for inner city kids and continued to do that until I graduated from college with a psychology degree. By that time I was pretty certain I wanted to become a counselor, so I enrolled in graduate school to pursue that goal. I’ve always been interested in what makes people tick, and in the course of my life I have seen a lot of hurting people. I wanted to try to connect with them and make a difference for them.

Greg: I’ve never heard the Salvation Army be referred to as a denomination. I think of it as a Christian service and rescue organization. Please tell me about that.

Dave: If you’ve ever seen pictures of London in the 1800s you’d know it was a real mess. At that time the church was excluding the poor, the prostitutes, the alcoholics and others like them, and the Salvation Army was founded as a para-church organization to serve them since no one else would.

Greg: I’m sure that mentality was a strong influence in your life.

Dave: I grew up believing I was saved for no other purpose than to serve other people.

Greg: How did you become a teacher for the Stephen Ministry?

Dave: Hershel Hatcher lives in my neighborhood and one day he mentioned the ministry. He knew I am a counselor and asked if I would be interested in teaching classes to new Stephen Ministers. I am a teacher at heart. I love to teach and communicate to others the things I’ve learned, and I really believe in serving, so of course I said I would.

Greg: Is it difficult for you to shift from a secular counseling paradigm in the workplace to a Christian counseling paradigm as a Stephen Ministry trainer?

Dave: You have to remember that people come into counseling with many different kinds of needs, and you have to pay attention to what they are asking you for. I’ve found that many people, if given the chance, want to talk about their faith, so I have faith conversations in my role as a professional as well as with Stephen Ministry trainees. I do not work for a Christian entity, but if someone coming to me for counseling opens that door, I will walk through it with them. If you believe that the Spirit fills you, you can ask the Spirit to affect what you are doing, and He will.

Greg: Do you volunteer elsewhere?

Dave: I also volunteer as a counselor at the Good Samaritan Health Center. I’d love to do that more but I have to save time for my growing family.

Greg: That’s right, you have four boys.

Dave: And my wife and I are about to adopt two more!

Greg: Good gosh; what possessed you to want six boys?!

Dave: David McNeely reminded us during a sermon he gave back in September that we are saved to help other people. Afterward, my wife and I realized that even though we both are in service fields, she is a nurse, we were conducting our lives in a way that was more about serving our own comfort than serving other people. After much conversation and soul-searching, we decided to adopt. The whole experience has refocused my wife and me, and has helped us to focus our young sons on what life is really about, and that is to serve others.

Greg: What a great lesson to teach your children.

Dave: You know, we are selfish people. We don’t naturally incline ourselves to give ourselves away to other people. Even though I grew up in a serving culture, I still find myself interested in my own comfort more than anything else. We all need to be reminded now and then to give ourselves away.

Greg: Do you intend to continue teaching classes for the Stephen Ministry?

Dave: Absolutely. I would teach more if I could.

Greg: Any last thoughts you’d like to share?

Dave: A lot of people think of volunteering as rewarding in the sense that it makes you appreciate more what you have and it takes your mind off your own personal stuff. That’s true, but for me the reward of volunteering is the pure joy of using the gifts God has given to me. I am aware of the benefit Stephen Ministers derive from my teaching, and I really believe others down the line benefit when they work with someone I’ve trained, but it really is the joy of giving myself, of doing good deeds for God, that rewards me the most. God gives us the gifts and the opportunity to use them, and we have a responsibility to use our gifts for His purpose. When we do, we find joy.

Greg: You’ve helped me by giving me this interview. What can I do to help you?

Dave: Something can always go wrong with an international adoption. Please keep my family and the two boys we are adopting in your prayers.

I hope you can see that Dave was a great teacher and trainer!

I’m working all day at Good Samaritan tomorrow; Thursday will be a recap of that experience.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and please pray for me and my family. Now go out and hug somebody!

1 comment:

Ginny said...

"We all need to be reminded now and then to give ourselves away." What a powerful statement! What a great interview! I'm praying for you.