Wisdom lights up a person’s face, softening its harshness. ~ Ecclesiastes 8:1b
There is great possibility in face-to-face encounter.
~ Jean Fleming, Pursue the Intentional Life
Have you ever thought about how much your appearance and expressions are communicating something to those around you? What is it that you have been saying when you haven’t been speaking?
It was Jean Fleming in her transformative work, Pursue the Intentional Life, who first scattered seed for an idea that rooted quick and deep in my heart and soul: the ministry of countenance.
Jean says it this way:
Those of us who know God, who have been saved from destruction and eternal lostness, who carry around in our bodies the treasure of knowing the gospel and the Holy Spirit Himself, should radiate something of that wonder.” (p. 84, Pursue the Intentional Life)
Our countenance reveals who we are, and a radiant countenance can reveal Whose we are. The difference between forcing a smile and something birthed in our interior places (when God removes our stony, stubborn hearts and replaces them with tender, responsive hearts (Ezekiel 36:26, NLT)) is ev-er-y-thing.
Our pastor once offered this simple definition for wisdom: seeing our lives, the world and circumstance through God’s eyes. How I long to gain the kind of Ecclesiastical wisdom that “puts light in my eyes and gives gentleness to my words and manners.” (Ecclesiastes 8:1 MSG)
A ministry of countenance is less about what we say or do (though these things are important) and more about how we speak and respond–
- Active listening vs. passive or distracted listening
- Being fully present, interested and observant
- Maintaining eye contact
- Demonstrating kindness, love, encouragement, empathy, patience and concern with our words and body language
And it hit me that a ministry of countenance is true hospitality–when someone leaves my company feeling better about themselves than about me! We don’t have to be entertaining guests in our home to extend hospitality; it’s demonstrated every time we offer friendly and generous treatment to others.
A ministry of countenance goes hand in hand with a hospitable spirit. Together they have the potential and power to impact everyone they touch for the better.
The opposite is true, too. An inhospitable spirit and dour countenance can crush the heart it touches.
During the year we lived in Germany, we took advantage of our location to travel around Europe as much as we could afford. We celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in London, happening upon a Remembrance Day parade during an afternoon stroll. I’ll never forget a conversation I overheard while smushed among the throng of parade watchers–
Please click to continue reading at Grace Table; this story was one of the times it’s uncomfortable to be a fly on the wall, and a reminder of who I always hope to be.